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To Be Like Eliot

My faithful quill recumbent
Motionless
Stark against the virgin parchment posed upon my desk
The peeping moon breaks through grimy windows
Mocking me as the mantel clock chimes the cheerless Midnight
Another day laid to waste
The poet’s canvas unblemished
Harmonizing with his imagination

My eyes, cast red with weariness, avoid the empty scroll
Wandering, they fall upon an oak case
Lined with leather-bound treasures
Names etched in gold and burgundy
Men and women
Masters of the written word
Mistresses of inspiration

Thoreau, Frost, Dickinson
Standing shoulder to shoulder upon the dust-covered shelves
A portrait of Arthur’s Cavalry, Whitman
Angelou, Yeats, and Wordsworth
Bounded by Plath and Sir William
 
Casting down wearied eyes, I come upon a solitary knight
A true treasure embossed upon a dark russet spine
Pearls...
‘The Waste Land’
‘T.S. Eliot’

A hush swallows me as my eyes gaze upon the words
Long-ago memories caressing my heart
A silvery veil layers my mind, remembering the words
Of the one called Thomas

Hands promenade lightly across the worn leather
Trembling without mercy
Forestalling the gathering of poet and pupil
Ghostly memories of a forgotten lad
Consuming the ramblings of a mad man
Born among the locust
Cascade over the rugged pavement of my aging mind

I roam with the lyricist beneath The Shadow of This Red Rock
Inhale the fear of a handful of dust
A youthful desire to love Belladonna on a bed of rocks
Serenaded by the Nightingale, frightened by the Wind

Footprints cast by the Poet and the pupil side by side
Inscribing the wet banks of the River Thames
Tears fill my eyes, cheap chardonnay my glass
Grasping the Poet’s brilliance is borne of his madness
Inseparable and certain
Like the silk hat of a Bradford millionaire
Death by water

Torrents of words flood my mind
As whitewater’s journey to Land’s End—
Love songs of J Alfred, Lilacs of a Lady
Undeniable Insanity of Possum’s and Practical Cats

Oh, to be like Eliot
To possess clandestine insanity
To utter rambling words, senseless thoughts
Transforming reflections into masterpieces for an eternity

I draw close my treasure
Ere placing her back upon the dust-covered shelf
Setting my lips upon the wrinkled skin
Tasting

Lifting my forgotten quill, I place pen to paper
The ghostly poet called Eliot
Guiding, inspiring, coaxing the pupil

I write
Ta Ta,
Goodnight

Copyright © Jim Hirtle

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