Poetry for People, Dragons
Other Unusual Creatures

by Mel West


To Michele

I know you have your views on life and where you believe you are heading.
I know also that I am not desirable to the French.
I know that I was mistaken to suppose that the French and I have a certain identity.
I have searched the world for some answer, why I am not able to be of your world.

It is not as if your sister is not of my world;
Nor that her daughter can never see me in my world.
\But slogging through the snow of New York I discovered that
If I were to write a poem to your sister,
Or even to your niece Anais,
No words so written so fine can compel
The hopes of children born so naive as I,
To think I could travel the world and see all that is,
Where I can find what is right and what is true;

When all I have found is nothing true.
The autumn drapes
In the orangy snow
And the sun set in the Autumn glaze,
All in New York was really cold.
It was not as I recalled in the time when I painted Eve
In an Eden also snowy and gold
When thinking of mushroom hunting and the glee of a find,
Was for Toulousian children the best gourmet to find;
New York and Toulouse merged in my mind.
Except the children.

(circa. 1986) 

Not many a father
Seated as I
Must write his daughter
Just as I;

Nither Jove nor Mercury
Seated as I
Could forbear the sound
In my every sigh. 

I sigh my love
In knowing you-
Not longer than my knee;

I sigh my love
In feeling you
Across the wine red sea. 

I think of the past,
Your future now,
And wonder where I go;
I know that soon you'll see my part
As floating step stones in the snow. 

I'd rise above the hills for thee
And capture your comet's tail;
I'd ask the Pleiades for a dove
To bring a Brown-wrapped Divine Tale. 

There are few things I cannot do
Which many men would seek:
For Anaïs my dear I'd catch the Blue
And corral the stars for the meek. 

How many a father can say as I
That even on Orion I ride?
Or how many men can know as I
His belt I have untied? 

There is a love that makes anew
Broken minstrels for the soul;
There is a way for even you
To understand this lonely role.

Where on earth did I go
Where few have gone before?
That even now only I can know
My child might yet adore? 

I've hidden a treasure far away
Beyond Andora's smoky skies;
I've sent away for a chest for you
That will dazzle even Dorothy's eyes. 

Kings and Queens and courtesans none too few
I've captured in my hand;
I've given them ships to sail away,
And they sailed away across the sand. 

But of all these things I've done my dear
Of which a father could tell,
For your mother's heart I'd yet appear
So in love our family could dwell.

If my heart were where the eagles fly,
Where doves can part the wordy sea,
I'd cast off the bonds of which I sigh
To hold you firmly on my knee. 

But of all the things I cannot fare
Is soar into the air;
I cannot soar to catch a heart
I've lost for want of care.

The Mighty Oak
(circa. 1970)

Why must that haughty oak come down?
Daring to crowd the wintered waste round,
Withered arms, propping a tiring crown,
Sighing leaves tending the evening sound:
Against the time when the headsman's axe
Draws in haste to take its blood,
I'll grip this blade of the maniac's
And with the withered boughs fall I too to the mud;
And when I fall with the mangled form
To join a barren frameless moon,
What of my blood which still flows warm
Midst the aged chips the headsman's hewn?

What is it that wills the oak and me
The discarded lot of maturity?

My Bones draw cold from your Ashen Hands
(circa. 1971) 

These Ashen hands clasped to my breast
Muted embers charging winter's breaths,
I ask of you, will I be redressed
Of the carnal fingers of Man's Macbeth?
Will not the clock turn back its hands,
Replaying acts, better times and turns;
May it boil the ebbing tidal lands,
Playing pounding surfs my heart still yearns?
What of this pipe dream? Seems I will pay:
No clock will turn, the tide will ebb;
My heart will cool in these hands still gray,
Wrapped within death's gauzy web.

Why, my dear, must your hands grow cold
And leave my aching bones this to behold?

I wish upon this Wishing Well
(circa. 1971)

I wish upon this wishing well;
I cast this coin to wet my thirst,
And though cast I will and here I dwell
My wish it seems must be accursed!
I cast the bones into the wind
And pray their lot will better fall;
And though I wait in hope, my friend,
The bones take flight in a hellacious squall!
So wish I may and pray I might,
And test my fleeing fortitude,
My fried or foe, which ever's right,
Must be napping up there in desuetude.

Why, I ask, must my luck collapse
At the rattle of the table's craps?

The Meeting Place

This place, I cannot see it with my own eyes,
And thus cannot advise you, fair traveler, of the direction to take;
But come, see the road sign which here lies:
It points to the yonder wherein you'll find a lake
With undulating waves of gossamer dew,
Suspended unanimated in a timeless frieze of angel's hair,
With beaches of fine grained crystal of pebbles few;
Where the traveler may rest and view the beauty bedecked so fair,
Rising on the horizon, stirring the very heart and soul,
To a new youth with fervent laughter, then serenity,
Filling the spirit with a warmth like dying embers aglow.
It's a timeless trip...a minute, an hour...surely an eternity;
And as endless as it is timeless, for it reaches beyond infinity:

Use patience and understanding, dear friend,
It's difficult to reach affinity. 

You're to meet someone, you know not whom.
Aye, I know that theme well,
For old I may be, you still must not assume
That I have forgotten the paradise where lovers dwell.
I recall the pain and sorrow my heart must bear,
In searching for the Eden now within my eyes and now lost;
It brings droplets, memory's tears, a want to share,
To this wrinkled facade of youth once lost.
Heed, fair traveler, It's a treacherous place to reach,
For the path is cluttered with distractions–
The Sirens you must avoid–
And the heat and the cold will soften your bones and breach
From the swelling marrow filling the void
Of your inner chamber and reeking
In your tissues aches and pains unknown.
It's an hardening trip, and yours alone.
Aye..It's a well known theme of sorrows gained and beauties few,
But the beauty, nay Utopia, Fountainhead, Elysian Fields of Paradise regained;
Is the reward, young friend, of an indomitable soul.

So search for the dew.
It will require a hearty traveler of courage ingrained,
As told to me by an erudite sage.
Seek the other dimension, all corporeal things evade,
To find her amongst the flowers and libations of another age.
She is guarded by the spirits of the ancients long since laid

To rest by Meander's bows of Homer's Lore.
Aye, she'll be there awaiting, my friend,
And you'll know her well by her moods, her dreams, her inner core;
Radiating, swirling, forcing to the end,

To become a part, an element, of your reveries,
Beloved for aeons and aeons, even an eternity.

The Icy Flood


The torrent swirled, crashing near my head;
My lips grew numb from the icy flood;
My legs grew heavier, too weak to tread;
Hope is gone, I am in the pursuing mud.

I cried out with muted, plaintiff moans,
And struggled against the pounding waves;
Sour fumes swirled midst the mossy stones,
Bearing Death's call to his eternal graves.

My cheek warmed on the cold granite wall;
Foaming ripples bloomed a blood red hue;
My nails thrust out like a cobbler's awl
In a final, convulsive, adieu.

To the watchers by my lying in state,
Forget not the blood on the open floodgate.

The Poet


The routine, ticking, working of the mind of impermeable layers,
Shrugging off the words and ideas of concern, compassion, humanity;
It closes its shutters to the voice of the intellect who cares.
It's a tale so sad but true, if known be such a thing, veracity.
What chance has this wretched soul to spread
The nectar of ideas inherited from humanity's core,
Manifestations of remembrance of things past, Plato's Bread,
While competing with tradition, doctrine, Folk Lore?
What right has Falsehood's Door, the Herders Gate,
To close the mind of an infant newborn,
As it steps into the dawn of knowledge, a new fate?
Reject not this mortal's views on life forsworn,
To stimulate presence of mind, a new state,
Heretofore enveloped in a cloak of insecurity:
Of distrust, and hate.

Saying Nothing at all


Words come so easily for many,
And yet so much can be said without a sound.
A poem has so much to say;
But, as one looks through a looking glass,
Its words are only as they appear to the beholder.
A poem without rhyme or meter is not a poem,
Standards may imply,
But the structure of a phrase has nothing to do
With the thought.
So let's cast off our irons and bonds
And let our thoughts go unwrit:

Let us say what we must
By saying nothing at all.




Mud! what forbearance must one have,
To struggle through the rain and slush
Seeping through the flesh and enveloping
The bones with cold clammy digits that crush
The very matter, the marrow developing
Into the colossal stigma posterity must bear..

And how do you fare?

 I, myself, aside from my immediate problems
Of fighting the headiness and drug
Which afflicts me in my stupor whilst
Driving my carriage from house to house,
From agony to agony, and confusion of no end:
The madness of the mob, their corrupted eyes,
Prescribe patience and understanding for this frustrated


 So it is with a patient with illness,
The doctor's prescription,
So it must be to a society with malignance,
The statesman's malediction.
Seek not the malpracticing quack
As you seek the ignoble leaders.

Demand credentials and avoid remiss.


The Trees cry a Lullaby


The trees cry a lullaby,
The children sing in tune,
Over the world life doth cry
About the pending doom.

 For nowhere is reason seen
To be responsible for you and me.
Nowhere does the human being
Act lovingly and neighborly.

It seems as though this thing I fear
Is premature in time.
It seems as though only I hold dear
The Message in this rhyme.

Though too grievous one may say,
Or I fear too much;
Perhaps it will be said another day
I cared enough as such.

The Fence

 Are you sitting on a fence,
Doing nothing and watching nonsense?

Are you contented where you are:
Do you see misery from afar?

Do you think your place
Is on the fence in any case?

Are you afraid to get off your rail
To take a position or cling to even my coat tail?
Is your loyalty for sale?

Do you know that from where you're sitting
You can't see what people are getting?

That misery and exploitation are around,
Grinding lives into the ground?

Do you know that the post holding you
Will rot in time through and through,
And you will fall into the muck
Below that thing which gives you luck?
Do you think you can't move because you're stuck?

When the rail crumbles under you,
What will you do?

Will you cry for help from me,
Though you ignored me
And others in our misery?

Or will you sink without crying,
Accepting your fate, a lonely dying?

What will you do
When your time comes too?

Though you know you're secure now,
Perhaps you ought to think about how
You may fall and where you'll go,
When your rotting fence lets you fall below.

You've got the idle time you see,
Because you're not involved with our misery.
So think about this message from me.

Well, I've got to go, my troubles are gnawing,
My friends need help with your post they're sawing.

Traditions and Truth

 Beads of sweat soothing my brow,
The pressure, the torment, the pain,
The fever, the thundering again,
And my blood, boiling to the pours,
No longer can I continue along with my chores.
No longer can I see what God has beget.
It's a scourge upon earth which I regret;
No more can I bear the wrongs I hear,
Those man made truths brewed from fear:
It's a sorrowful end for the sharer of the plow.


For what bounds of endless joy,
Did so much work, and sweat, and dreams
Justify, and encourage this torment; it seems
To be an illusion of physical dimensions
Composed of a swarm of intellectual intentions,
Conceived for the stability of that swarm,
An insurance, a protector from the storm,
Effusing from heaven to curtail the scourge
From consuming itself in its search for forage:
And destroying God's great joy.


Why? Why cannot this being see?
Why must he continue along this path
To pit his power against heaven, provoking God's wrath,
To erect another tower to himself
And place it next to God's, on his shelf?
To make himself immortal is his fancy,
No longer is he content to be,
No longer are his desires, cherished or labored,
Encouraging our existence, even our destiny.
Alas, nothing is heard through these notes,
Because of him: the one with an ill-tuned cord.


The Man was Shields

Within Union Square one day
I saw a mechanical man at play.
Dressed in fine old drummer's garb,
He entertained all as a silent bard,
Jumping and twirling, somersaults galore,
Moving like a jester out of folklore.

The faces following his movements there
Sent smiles and laughter from spirits bare.
Peering faces, expressionless at sight,
Looking at this man with such delight,
Made me wonder if those movements imbue
A nameless crowd and faceless few,

Suggesting something of meaning clear,
That we were looking into a mirror.



The Landscape


The meaning is clear, you can see it there:
Look into her eyes, so much grief she bears;
She's only a painting, as you can see,
But can you see the story she relates to me?
She does not question the acts of God, you see,
For who is capable of determining whether what is to be will be?
No. She questions not his acts, his faults..They're ours.
Her temple of worship, shattered to the core – over there–
And the emptiness, the destruction, her distraught stare,
Moves me to her helplessness with all my powers.

The child, hanging onto the tails of her dress,
Stricken with confusion, agony, inexplicable distress:
What reasons can you give for all that waste,
Enveloping him, and stinging him with poisons of haste,
Brewed in a pot of vanity in little taste,
And conceived through mixed emotions;
And they call that an intellectual phase?
The epitome of intelligence, God's delight,
The supreme man, yes it's all there:
Intellectual progression devoid of care;
It's a portrait to learning, a monument of might.

 The beautiful coloring, a sky of crimson red,
A church, mother and child, all else is dead,
And far to the horizon, silhouetted against the burning sky,
Is the skeleton of a city refusing to die

 What remains from the scourge is impossible to buy,
And those who cannot obtain it will never know why.
A passport to freedom, this was the fare,
The corrector of nature's faults, as God's judge,
Has completed his masterpiece for God to judge.
Well, the mother knows the meaning here.

She was there.

(background from Cicero's villa)

Please send me over to a poem in Works and Days among the Hyperboreans called "Hyperborean Miscellany" which wraps teachings from Sophocles, Hesiod, Pindar, Hippolytus, Horace, Aristotle, Homer, and Euripedes and others within its covering.
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