The Final Part of J. Humbert Riddle’s Birthday Ode

J. Humbert Riddle’s Birthday Ode,
Delivered on Vacation
In the Isles, 2010

Editor’s Preface:
A new, extended version of
Perhaps Riddle’s most famous
Poem, written during a time
Of supposed sanity, and ease.

VI. For You

In Worcester too
On nights once in
Cell-like rooms, thinking
Of paved roads long
After rains in the mid-day
Of mountains of
Bright sun-light on
Wet leaves that glisten, glisten like

Silence. Silence.
Silence tapping a wooden
Walking stick so gently
Against tar-black pavement that is
A tap
Tap…

Of creeping boot-soles creeping
Against the firm flesh
Of hands rubbing against
Life and a
Tap tap
Of places down roads taken
Past towns I once drank in
By surging streams and hikes
I waited by tall trees with
A walking stick in hand for
You. Waiting

And watching out…
For you.

Posted as part of Poets United Sunday Poetry Pantry

J. Humbert Riddle’s Birthday Ode, Part I

J. Humbert Riddle’s Birthday Ode,
Delivered on Vacation
In the Isles, 2010

Editor’s Preface:
A new, extended version of
Perhaps Riddle’s most famous
Poem, written during a time
Of supposed sanity, and ease.

I. Claps of Thunder

I sat in a cell once, long ago,
In Athens it was, crying for that dead
Wasted body of pale Pericles… our hero.

Wine mixed
Not enough. I

Saw broken bits
Of corpses bouncing by –
Such sad women,
Such sad women – all
Pushed downstream to
The still, tepid waters of
Our port,
At Piraeus.

Wine mixed not
Enough. When

Young and bounding
Over rocks on
Star-cold sands by
The clay site at Siwa I
Stared at grimy papyrus
Scrolls, stared
At a king, a king left
Stabbed and silent by
A solemn pool,
A pool in
The dry, mythic mountains
Of perfumed Persia.

Wine mixed…

In Utica in a sparse room,
In a dead
Desert city, I
Found Cato mumbling
And mumbling about

The claps of thunder that come
Before the damp rains chill the
Silent statues the
Crowded squares of
Speckled Rome.

Wine…

Posted as Part of Poet’s United Sunday Poetry Pantry