He came to me in mourning.
Some thing, that he tried to describe
As he lay next to me.
A ray of the early sun lit embers of hope
In the depths of his horse brown eyes
And I knew madness had begun.
What hope was there for me?
He disgusts me with his ways of science
He knows nothing about.
I shook his hand from my shoulder
And rolled over to face the emerald sky of this;
He rants with false logic sublime
And one cannot help but wonder at his words.
So again, I was hearing him out,
My face turned away,
For I could not bear to be with him.
Do not say, that my father loves me.
I know that he does.
In the way that a worm loves the earth;
He cannot help it.
It began as a nesting pair of Starlings wandered
Through the marble frame of the window and into the room.
There, above my bed they became lost,
And in their confused hesitation they fluttered,
In space for a time,
Before fleeing back the way they had come;
A simple twist of light.
I felt him tracing the lines of invention
Upon my back with his cold finger-tips.
Mumbling some nonsense again,
He grasped my shoulders in his workman’s hands
And shook me in the bed, pushing away
To spring up and run limping from the room
As if the kitchen was alight.
A dark feather was spiraling down through
Sparkles of sunlit dust,
All a swirl to the floor.
He returned some time later and woke me again,
Whisking the sheets from my naked body
And pushing me over so that my back was his.
In a fleeting moment I thought he would try and lay with me
And I was deciding what to think about this strange fantasy
When the first pour of hot wax found my flesh.
Recoiling with a shout,
I discovered him with a pile of his stuff
Sitting crossed-legged beside me with a fire in his hands.
“What is this? You’ve come to burn your son?”
“No, not that.
But to give you wings with which to fly from this prison ground.”
This new madness had taken him recently
And though he had not spoken of it for days,
He was now with his tools
Already looping wet leather around my chest
And wrapping tight into my arms some new knot
Of his recent invention.
He would tire of it soon enough I thought,
And I would soon be to market with my friends
Drinking wine and feeling Athena in my hands.
I thought of her hair falling into my face
As he twisted a stick into the loops of leather.
All the while I lay still,
Enduring these further little pains of my father;
Thinking them as stories to mystify my friends.
They would buy me wine for this.
I was parting her flesh in my mind when he cut me
And with swiftness ran two eagle bones through the wounds.
This time I did not cry out,
Only breathed a little deeper
As he wound the chords around the protruding bones he so admired,
All the while voicing some language unknown,
As was his way in such times.
Following the unseen trail of blood with my mind;
It started almost hot,
Then flowed into a cold stream over my ribs,
Staining like rust on my fair skin,
Now well scarred with such marks of desperate inspirations
As this life has brought me.
Upon beddings of Egyptian Cottons
I was thus crucified in form
As he built yet again something from nothing;
The first time with a thrust of his thighs,
And now this,
With the leavings of an Eagles’ life.
It was the same thing, he said.
The blood let was fastening now,
In a hot mix of beeswax and tallow from spent candles.
I would be late to table,
And thought to send a servant ahead to my friends.
“Now stand.” He commanded, with that final way of his that bore no discussion.
The trial was mostly over though, I thought,
And there would be some gold in it
When he realized the damages of his experiment,
So I perched on my toes to keep the tips of my wings from the marble.
I flexed the burn of my back and tried my arms.
Such an odd sensation it was as my feathers filled
With sacred breath and held against invisible forces
Falling me to the floor.
But I was up in a flash of rainbow iridescence
And I held my arms strong
And felt a lightness of being
As my wings filled again with some Gods air
Leaning me this way and that
As I skip-hopped across the room and into tapestry.
As I fell back I twisted my torso,
And gave a mighty push with my winged arms,
And found a birth flight that landed me onto my soft bed
Tangled in amazement.
“I see the fault!” He cried, rushing in again with his blade.
He pinned me with his knee and again he cut slits for new bones
Which he threaded and lashed with leather,
Thus strengthening the whole so that the apparatus was now rooted
And strong against sky.
A hum arose from the depravities of my soul;
The song of Gods who know flight,
And though I had not,
I knew that I could,
And sometimes the thought of a thing
Is better than the thing itself.
And so it was as I stood
Being with wings.
And he, that crazed man,
Dropped the knife from his hand,
And it bit at his toe
Before clattering across the floor.
The sound of it echoed into a resolute silence between us
That has yet to be broken.
Simply; there are no words
In that wasteland between us;
Only some nameless river
On which we pass the other
Day by day
That a man knows he can do a thing
Does not suffice that he should do it.
Yet no thought of failure came to me
As I hurried the cobblestones to table with my friends.
Only that this day was my last as a man imprisoned
To the ground he walks on.
One look at my face and Peter ordered a full bottle.
He stood grandly and pulled out a chair for me.
Athena gazed upon me with that half-smile that will make her my wife.
Her knowing hands came away bloody and she wrung them together so that they were gloved in my iron.
She tested the glue of it between her thumb and finger. “What is this?”
“Again, he has taken some trial from his father.” Said Peter.
“Madness.” Athena tisked.
“Oh, but this time,” I started,
“He has driven it home! Drink! All of us at once!” Shouted Peter.
And the heat that bloomed in my throat
Brought forth such words
That even these veterans sat amazed.
“Show us your back.” Said Peter, lifting the hem of my shirt.
I must have spoken loudly in my haste,
The tables akin to us were quiet and attentive
In the way of polite strangers intrigued,
And I was afraid to implicate my father to these wounds
That could only bear unreasonable explanation.
“Come, you have bled through your robe.” Athena said, rising from her seat.
We said our good-byes to Peter,
Who graciously nodded and called for another vessel of wine,
And made our way through the market maze,
Avoiding the chides of merchants with the clasp of desire in our hands.
To her dismissive parents we presented the awkward grace of all young lovers;
A quick catch up of nothing new,
And then we drifted slowly through the house
Until at last we were alone in her rooms.
She called for ointments and oil
And locked the door.
We sat on a soft carpeted pallet,
In a pool of sunlight,
Listening for a while to the slowing hour
When the city rests for a time in preparation
For the great exhalation of night.
Her soft touch to my cheek closed my eyes
And I kissed her fingers
And tasted my blood.
“Come, let’s see his work.” She said.
Lifting my shirt to where it held fast to skin.
She sucked at my ear and blew her soft voice warm,
All the while pulling the fabric away from the wounds.
Then she lay me down and sang her song quietly,
Soothing me of hurt.
In that light she stripped herself bare to the waist
And laid the salves onto her giving flesh,
Pinching at her nipples to make them stand,
And then she covered me with that healing skin
And we lay for an hour in sheltered sleep.
I awoke with the tenth hour pain of the sword.
When wounds are still soft and dangerous.
Athena was off to the side of me a bit,
I care nothing for angels when Athena is beside me.
Her Grecian skin tanged with something from Apollo, says her mother.
Her hair, a honey-red Medusa never tamed,
Falling to frame the only eyes into my soul,
Fearless lips to my heart;
Now enslaved by the scent of promise.
There is a dagger in her belt the size of my own,
And she says she will kill me with it, and then herself
Before giving up,
And I believe her.
This hour, when those who must,
Walk softly in the street,
And lovers steal moments of time from the Gods
In the cage of a kiss,
This moment of purity
When intent is quiet and desire aslumber,
This instant is the precious gift we live and die for,
Yet so seldom attain.
We are young they say.
And they are unsure of our love,
But we know.
A fresh shipment of candles have arrived from the mainland.
The wax is blond and heavy.
He says it is just the thing.
With drawings in his scratchy hand,
He explains particulars of design,
Erasing his truth to make it simpler for me.
I have no idea what he’s talking about,
He is totally alone with himself in the world
And I wish him another Athena
Though I fear it’s too late.
It is the picture he paints that I see.
And already having embraced the willing arms of air,
I need no convincing.
The only alteration I demand is that we cut his wings tomorrow.
Recently, he has begun to grow old,
And I promised my brothers
To keep him from sorrow if I can.
Before retiring, he draws pensive
And asks if he has hurt me badly.
He is speaking about the wounds of the day,
But I know what he means.
I look away and he bites his thumb.
How can I be so complete with Athena
And yet so completely estranged from my father?
It is he that is the prisoner.
I am only the prisoners’ son.
His heart is bad with this
And he does not live with it well.
I can no longer give him the simple embrace of my youth,
For I too have grown older
And that unconditional love is no longer for me to give,
Only his to want.
I do not know where it has gone
And I don’t know why it has left.
Peter says it is the natural detachment
Of a strong child from a strong father
And that it happens even in the wild.
I say then it is a wilderness like no other,
And Athena kisses me deeper for it.
The Confession of Daedalus
The time behind twilight
Sings a silence second
Only to dawn.
In those moments
Self is transient,
Waking, preparing to dream.
I lost track of him there.
Athena had caught up the scent of a rose
And splashed delicate drops of it from a bottle at will.
Her skirts carried like a garden
The spirits of her flower,
And sweet was still upon my thin beard
For I refuse to wash my face of her.
I seemed to miss the initiation
Of his speech,
It was the echo of the words he first spoke
That turned my thoughts back to this world.
“I know that I have recently not been a proper father to you Icarus.” He said.
His voice was disembodied by darkness fallen.
There were no candles to spare from the work,
So we sat as if dead, only hearing.
The season was fine.
Neither cold nor hotness called me from comfort,
So wanting nothing,
I simply lay where night had discovered us
And said nothing.
“My mind is not at peace, as you know.
Icarus, our dungeon is well appointed,
And we want for nothing.
Only that we might freely leave it
And recover the exercise of our will.”
The night swallowed this
And lit the moon
From beyond the sea.
He went mesmerized from it’s rising light,
Only the glints of his eyes showed him still there
In the charcoal shadows.
There was a moment at the gates of forgiveness,
But I was not the man yet to walk through it.
“Father, you assume more than you know.”
I spoke to his shadow passing.
I have discovered myself grown up.
It is nothing more than becoming aware;
Indeed, a forced awareness that you have become
Just another moon,
And no longer a source of light.
The troubled time of youth
When we awkwardly acknowledge truth
Too absurd to be believed.
Rebellion is the only answer
Until we choose to unbelieve
That which lies plainly before us
And somehow engender getting on
With the business of living life.
No one expression of facade
Is more valid than another,
Yet we click into groups,
Ever dissolving into the cold
Cold sea that evermore surrounds us,
Until we become the blackness
That holds together clear waters.
The only gift there is to us
In this horror of daily awakening
Is that true love may abide.
And so I left my chambers,
Walking right out of the front door,
He no longer cares,
And into the quiet damp streets of midnight,
My feet sure of her call
And waiting embrace.
The air, wet and cool
My boot-heels announcing my past
And the exhalation of my steamy breath
Lighting the way of my future.
O, life illuminates death,
And death illuminates life.
I am hungry for the work of her flesh again.
At the stand beneath her windows
My heart calls her,
And in not five minutes she is there
In the frame,
Running a silver backed comb
To a sure tangle in her golden frey.
Her breasts are shadows to me.
Dark with the mystery of her pledge
To love me even as I am.
I climb the linen ropes she throws
Ignoring the false fiber that holds my weight
As she teases the tension with her knife-like smile,
Letting me in when I reach her in a sweat.
Whatever gold fills my veins now
Is all that is mine to give.
She drinks away my reason,
Only thin, slippery fire separates our naked skins
And with a certain angle and twist of her hips
She takes my quicksilver
And makes a child.
We see the jolt of conception
In each others eyes;
Now a little flame
“Marry me.” I suffer to breathe.
“Marry me.” She answers, then deeper still.
But, there is this thing with flight,
On the wings my father has given me.
Why is it that whenever there is finally
Something simple and whole surrendered before us
There is also something calling us away
From the attainment of certain comfort?
Into a frigid north extreme
Where we again own nothing,
And belong to no one.
With the passing of desire,
All daemons return.
It would be better to die now in her arms,
My bios complete.
And leave her to find one more deserving than I,
Yet there is no man within me
Who has the courage to let that blood,
So I am stuck,
And she, bound to my cowardice.
We sin by growing older,
The sentence of Sisyphus upon us.
Only there is now a child
Who knows nothing of it
Awaiting to be born.
I go the way I came,
Leaving her entranced in miracle,
Dreaming on rich Persian carpets,
Now with a think of bronze
I hammered for her hand
As I walk the way home
Faeries rise in my blood,
Singing in circular harmonies
Of such dissonant reality,
That tears stain the pendulous advance
Of my blood and leather bound feet.
I must wake him.
I must speak with my father.
The Morning of The Second Day
Sunlight means nothing to him.
His noble face at peace
In the mask of sleep.
I rehearse my heart
In a rising of whispers
Until, finally, he hears,
And stirs in his blankets.
His eyes dart beneath closed lids.
He bolts upright, sucking in breath.
“What! Is this death?”, he cries.
“No, father. Wake up!”
“What then? Icarus!”
“All is well, father. I cannot wear your wings.”
He is still for a moment,
Regaining his reality.
“What is the matter, then?”
“I won’t leave her, father.”
“Oh, Icarus, don’t say. You are young, and Athena is but a child.”
I laugh out loud. “Yet, I am old enough it would seem. Athena is bearing.”
“Oh, you cat! How can this be? I’ve seen her recently, she does not show.”
“Father, I am sure of it.”
He twists his head back and forth with his hand.
“But son, you are wanted in the cities,
And on the ships of commerce, of the world,
You, in the ways of success.”
“No. You will never make a fisherman. And my hands were not gifted to you. Whatever would you do on this so small island?”
“Father, we will petition for my freedom. You are the prisoner! I was not even born.”
“But he will never let you go while I am alive. Icarus! Do not do this thing!”
“The thing is done, father. Athena is with child.”
The arrow I took then
Sped through my heart,
For his face fell unguarded
Into a set of such anguish
That he moaned aloud.
“I have failed you then.” he sobbed.
Those tears that come so rare
Diluted some dream fueling him,
And I felt the abyss between us open further
Even as we collided with the funeral grief
That now filled the room.
His contrition cut the air
And I tried to speak while breathing it in,
And so my voice was strange
Like a raven in snow,
“Father, I will not bear to be your failure.
Because I cannot.
I, I cannot do it.
You see this place as a prison because it is, to you.
To me, I no longer think of place or time.
I am a vessel for love,
And I carry it willingly,
Fearing only that love will someday
Leave me alone like you.”
O, if I could take back the breath
That drove those words misspoken
Like a spear into his soul.
But I could not.
Suddenly I was so weak
That I could not speak.
Certainly he was done,
For he fell back into his bed
And died yet another little death
In golden ray.
We may so fear action of any sort
Because any change of balance
In status-quo cannot be projected
So we stay unchanged for a while longer,
Yet again, enduring hell to avoid healings beyond
Until our spirit will bear no more,
And change falls upon us in highway banditry.
The tragic trajectory of truth
Is sometimes not so pretty.
Tales of the battle-field carry no scent,
Or else they would never be told.
When we choose daily to live,
Instead of just die,
For what reason do we go on
But to be simply noticed and acknowledged
By souls around us?
There is nothing else to reward our struggles
In this world.
Our fearful exchanges in social intercourse
Are tolerated because they are the birthplace of rarer love,
The same for all.
So we must pursue the consistent repetition of failure.
We must endure
To find loves’ fame.
Show the count of truth upon you now.
To yourself; show the multitudinous scars
You carry in evidence of the waste you must carry
Hidden within you
So that you may love
And be loved by others.
This is the price you pay for living true.
Now you know the face
Of that fakir which will finally kill you
Into simple forgotten dust.
Banal fear separates us
One from the other,
Yet this self-loathing,
So seemingly singular to ourselves
Is the very thing we all have in common.
It is the basis of any intimate communion,
And both the birth and the death
Of every true love we shall ever know.
The best we can do
Is to choose our time
And not have our time choose us.
There is smoke in my world this hour.
Though I cannot perceive a flicker,
I have peeked into my every room
To answer the hint
That my world is aflame.
I feel I have lost use of my self
From the heart down,
I do not care much at the moment,
Perhaps I care
To not smell the very smoke
Of my consumption.
I don’t even want to speak
Or think of it.
So forgive me all
I have become.
This then, is the way of my world.
What comes next will be discovered
As soon as this patchwork earth meets my flight.
I remember nothing from before myself
So why would there be something after?
We are not Gods.
As to the flight itself, there’s nothing to it.
My father stitched false wings into me
Then fairly pushed me out the window!
The ocean breeze filled the feathers
And I seemed to know what to do.
It is mostly swimming I think.
But arms are made for lifting wine and guiding the hip,
I was tired and considering the trial of landing
When I came to Saturn’s Drop,
That sheer faced wall rising from the sea.
The updraft climbing the wall lifted me even as I thought to alight,
And I soared far higher than I ever dreamed with little effort.
With wings, the sky is just another river,
Much the same as any, with eddies and falls, and steady current
Breaking into wild confusion and war.
Clouds below me and the cool air,
Belying the suns mighty work upon the wax.
I was just at home with it when the left wingtip detached
And spiraled away below me into white.
I corrected then, but thinnest air is no place for repair.
The feathers of that wing bejangled
At angles that followed no truth.
I know it was not the man that betrayed me,
But his insistent dreams, persecuted with the strange madness,
To accomplish things that may be best left in the realm of sleep.
I think now I see a white spot upon the ground,
His figure running to meet me,
Even now designing my rescue
Though time is but a breath away from thought.
I feel the ghost of my mother,
Crying for the lost child.
She is tugging at my heart with all her way,
But her ghost fingers carry no weight here
And so I am
I do not fear.
The facts are too amazing.
My mind is tricked in the tops of the clouds,
And if there is something to fill what death deserts
Then let it come now into the empty space.
Athena will bear my child, ever fresh her tears,
My struck dream in her untested womb,
He will grow and show
And she will be unmarried and turned out
As something less than herself in the eyes of the world.
My father, the prisoner, will take her in
If he can find her in the mean streets,
And they may name the child Icarus
And raise him like a dog
To sooth their loss.
Or Peter may yet be a man
And put down his wine
To serve Athena as my friend
Growing to love
And raise the child as his own.
I could cry for this but I won’t.
I does not matter,
There is no time.
The clouds above me again
I wonder should I entreat the Gods
Or compose my death song
From the shouts I discover riding my panicked breath.
My body is twisting of itself
Demanding to somehow outlive the inevitable insult
While my mind is as clear as music.
It looks as though I shall be falling into water.
The sea is calm and the green waters of the late spring
Will be warm and take me ensheathed like a lover
I will go into her willingly
And expire my last seed into her belly.
She may bear yet,
For now I am falling in this dreamworld
Not to flee, he said,
But to see.
Now I have seen.
And all will think of me
As a lesser god punished
For the simple desire
The up-rush of my world,
So cold and distant makes me laugh.
Am I to thread her eye with this?
To what end?
All the wings of man shall ever be false.
The game pursued to any end will not satisfy.
Only the hunt will ever suffice.
The hunter or the hunted,
It is the same.
J H S