Sad Palmyra, Ruined Again

Such wanton madness such
Bat-blind destruction and
Death of beautiful things. I think of

Rampages at night. Cries
From the ruined walls of
Ancient sites: heads lopped
Off, temples toppled, shot
At and blown
Away. Then,

Quiet men
Taken to broken amphitheaters…
An old-time
Entertainment, renewed. Such

Madness such death
In ancient sands. As
Men grin at tattered
Statues that once held up
Grand archways over grand,
Roman parades. Of cheers

To conquering men. Of
Wine spilled of madness
On burning hill-
Sides where we see tanks
Bursting forth and still…

That silence of centuries of
Men and of women who lived
Here once but blew away like
Sandstorms on dark nights that
Blot out those distant stars we
Just can’t quite see. Lovely,

Palmyra…

Dry Thoughts, Spoken Aloud

“I can think back on that time as a stay
As a pale thing that tightens and sits
In dark corners, but that comes to play
With us, us who complicate matters with wits
That cramp styles, that lurch in fits
To dances, to songs of long forgotten comedy:
Of ballets, of dancers, of she who flits
Across broken screens that showed us tragedy:
Of people and laughs and… an eye
A yellow eye that gazed out at smart
Scenes of ancient lawns that would cry
Like broken dreams and like the dark hearts
Of things that sit and moan –
That sit like a smooth, soft stone.”

Souvenirs

They say it is an
Impulse – a mad, wild,
Raving impulse – the
Places we have been.

The trails we took,
Never looking back to…

The lone people we met on
Waysides, all drenched
From un-
Expected rains. The
Sad stories told
In quaint hotel rooms in
The jagged jungles of
North Cambodia. When

We walked through ruins
Older than time… before touch,
Before pens, before
The scissors we hold to cut
Images from gray,
Pop-up books. Yes,

Sitting with coffee.
Rowing down rivers with
The huff huff of
Rugged women that man
Chipped, hollow oars.

***

Never coming back… gone
In moments when you
Take a bend by broken
Columns and want to weep
By the piled up skulls of
Long forgotten people.

Wasted,
Worn, out.

Riddle’s Hand Poem

Editor’s Note:
I do not know for certain if
This is an actual Riddle piece. The
Subject doesn’t fit. Why hands? But,
I did find this among his papers
After he died. By the markings on it,
I think he wasn’t quite
Finished with it.

III.

An extreme beauty.
I,
Would say?
Is found,
In the fingers,
Of age.

Withered –
Wasted by wear –
Arriving,
To the meaning
Of the matter.

IX.

Yes, details,
Dead, excesses,
Excised… and
What is left,
Is pure,
Is painful,
Is true –

A pair of hands,
Reflected,
A bar of chocolate,
Seen.

A Poem by J. Humbert Riddle, Lately Deceased

Editor’s Note:
This poem was mailed to me by an
Unknown sender one day last
July. Whether coincidence or not,
This was the very month of Riddle’s
Mental spiral that ended in
His hospitalization and untimely death.
This is, unfortunately, not a
Complete Riddle poem, as one sheet
Was misplaced… and never found again.

I.

Words I could not say
In tongues I
Never learned to speak.

Passing and never passing
Days by paths gone done
Though gone done –
I never did.

Us and streams and knowing
I on visits to our wood
House, trees cutting and
Cutting, nearby I in woods
Cut and cutting.

II.

Whispers silent too much to
Whisper. Loud voices too
Loud for speech. Words

That cannot mean.

III.

Never sat in desks. People
Never known though
Brushed past on crowded
Streets that heave beneath
A splintered sun.

To towns I meant to drive
To in cars I abandoned along
The way.

Breakfasts taken alone
By silent church walls. Words that

Mean?

IV.

Promises never kept.
Apples picked from trees
That never grew.

V.

All I never said, and more –
Unable to say, speak of

Oceans I swam away from
On planes I did not board in
Airports I got lost to
On streets forgotten in mid-morning mists
I glanced at from corners
In cities I
Let slip from maps that
Flew out my open door…

[The rest has been lost]

Posted as a part of Poets United Sunday Poetry Pantry

Fragments from the Desk of an Esteemed Poet

Fragments from the Desk of the Esteemed Poet,
J. Humbert Riddle, Lately Deceased…
By Causes Unknown

Editor’s Preface:
The reader might be confused by this Riddle poem. So, a few notes.
I found these “Fragments” intact in one of the dark recesses of Riddle’s desk,
And, though I dug, was unable to find the other “Fragments,” assuming of course
That more to this strange piece exist. Riddle, apparently, had arranged these “Fragments”
Himself, and odder still, scratched in the title you just read. How he knew he was about
To die, and “By Causes Unknown,” might just be the central mystery
Of this poem.

Fragment 12

I am a sick man.
I am a poet whose poem
You’re reading right now you
Are and I am a sick man,
A sick poet-man I am…

Mumbling at a bolted down
Desk while bars bar the way
To sunshine and I tremor to
Tremor to hear lunatic wails
Weeping through the walls
That bar me and that bind
Me to cells bored deep
Underground?

Fragment 32

I am a sick man.
I am a sick
Man I am a
Sick poet-man I
Am.

Fragment 2

Dressed to the nines in
White washed rooms that reek
Of madness and measles
That dot the walls and
Whisper that whisper to
Me I on dry nights with
Thunder calling my name out
Loud:

I am an I am
A sick man am
I am? A
Poet-man I am.