OWLS AT NOON

Remember “The Hollow Men” ?

T.S Eliot wrote it in 1925

The ashes of world war I were barely cold

And we 4-years old toddlers barely made out

A world of strange forms

Shaped by that war the war

To end all wars they said

Which we could discover quite untrue

Less than 80 seasons later


“Headpieces filled with straw”

or “dried voices” or “quiet and meaningless”

How often would these words apply

To my fellow passengers

Aboard the erratic liner

Of century XXth?


“The Hollow men”

“The Stuffed men”


2

How often did we meet in dreams

Those eyes Eliot didn’t dare to meet?


Swinging trees and fading stars

Were our usual visions

The wind sang for us

As it did for him


Just as distant just as solemn

And we too tried to be no nearer

in “death’s dream kingdom”

Under our disguises

Cat’s coat, owlskin, and the rest

Behaving as cats behave

No nearer


But we would never meet again

In the dawn kingdom


3

“This is the death land” he wrote, and

Images of trenches oozed from our childhood

For there our fathers had met for the first time

The unbearable task of being men


What is “cactus land” if not barbed wire?

And what would those fading stars be

If not the blazing trails

Of battlestruck airplanes?


How often would we wake alone

“Trembling with tenderness”

And pray to broken stone?


4

The eyes we would never

Truly recognize them

“What is it

That a blind man may choose?”


Said Siegfried

“Sightless” is a better word


Sightless unless new eyes open

And leave us with that cryptic epithet

“Multifoliate rose”


5

“I’ll be seeing you”

Was our song

Less than 80 seasons later

For every war has a song


Between every song

And every silence

Between every word

And every promise of a word

Falls a shadow


For thine is the kingdom


Life is very long


Between the bare plains of the Somme

And the sands of Iwo Jima

Between the dogfights over dunkirk

And the finger that triggered the bomb

Falls a shadow

For thine is the kingdom


For thine is

Life is


For thine is the

 

“This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but a whimper”


2004

 

(CM)