Thursday, March 8, 2018

Poems By Jack D. Harvey

Jack D. Harvey's poetry has appeared in Scrivener, The Comstock Review, The Antioch Review, Bay Area Poet's Coalition, The University of Texas Review, Zombie Logic Review, and a number of other on-line and in print poetry magazines over the years.

The author has been writing poetry since he was sixteen and lives in a small town near Albany, N.Y. He was born and worked in upstate New York. He is retired from whatever he was doing before he was retired. 

Don Juan
       (after Tirso de Molina’s
El burlador de Sevilla y convidado de piedra)

His memoirs falsely construed,
a contrived Casanova
is left playing in the dirt.
Leave him and
his fornications.
Turn your heads instead
towards a real legend,
a damned titan of despite
strutting across the boards,
butting heads with his rivals,
giving not an inch of himself
to the house assembled.

Let’s hear it, all of you;
let’s hear ten thousand cheers
for Don Juan Tenorio,
nickname, byname, byword,
egged on by beauties
felled and foiled
in the blink of his
roving indifferent eye.
He’s better than the bible,
than the Divine Comedy,
larger and clearer than life,
coo the fallen madonnas,
dripping fluid and passion and
who should know better than they
his insouciance, his insolence,
I defy you!
Not to be found elsewhere
or anywhere,
by God’s grace.

And after he’s finished with you,
ladies, try to remain composed,
I beg you;
open the blinds and watch him go
while the tears drain away and
you bleed and weep at the usual ports
for the loss, the shame, the invasion.
You opened your wards,
beautiful moppets and
paid the price,
let a passport to lust
and indolence become
yours by a chance flutter of eyelids,
an unfortunate ogle;
your own fault, little ladies,
by your lack of
innocence betrayed.
His eyes took note,
he took his pleasure
and off he went
to new ports,
blissfully sailing away
across his sea of immorality.

Be quick says the laird’s wife,
getting poked hard in the pantry,
but Don Juan pays no heed
and with aplomb
practices no economy of time;
in his hot eyes streaking
dissipation and no hoarding;
spending it all,
he gives all and his inspiration
flows like rain from heaven.
With a sigh and a gasp,
they open their fortifications,
the heyday of surrender,
the radiance of munificence
shine in their eyes.
He smiles in satisfaction and
what teeth in his smile,
what teeth, I say!
Don Juan moves on
and on and the sun
shines its magnificent espionage.
A glorious day, surely,
perfect and uncertain,
a daydream of a day
makes the birds
seem to sing
little operas in the park,
sweet and melodious.
The sun so warm,
such a sweetie-pie in the sky,
blinding us with its brightness;
boys and girls skip
hand in hand
across the green meadows,
shy and sweet,
and under the green grass
the septic tank
keeps its peace,
holds its foul burden.

Fuego! Fuego!
Shout your guts out,
dishonored Tisbea,
one in a row of many,
shout for revenge,
go in the sea if you must,
but don’t bother drowning just yet;
time will tell all and
time will ensure payment
of every debt.
Stick around.

Time now for a little killing,
a little swordplay;
a spilling of blood
the old-fashioned way.
Farther down the line, Doña Ana
does some shouting
of her own;  
Don Gonzalo,
father of the deflowered
daughter lies
dead as a stone.

He’s not the only one
nor is she, outraged
by Don Juan’s careless taking;
day and night
Don Juan does his best
to shame the snaky principalities,
the powers of Satan,
with his spiritual wickedness,
his slapdash knavery.

So Don Gonzalo  
lies dead as a stone.
Undiscovered witness,
the green glass cat
traps no mice on the lawn;
the sun on her green head
falls neat;
like a green marble
the sun makes
with heated rhetoric
her feline stillness complete.
Death just dealt,
with sun delicate,
sparkling and deepening
the scene is watered.

Such a day
butchered Pentheus.

Don Juan turns away
and saunters and
saunters with a more
rapid pace
than his wont is.

A time for introspection?
Not for him;
too many open windows
in his corrupt soul,
too many opportunities
for lust and mayhem,
too many allegiances
to the depths of evil.
He eats his vittles and
uproariously waving
knife and fork,
condescends to cut up  
with his butler.

A last supper beckons,
a joking invitation
to a guest of stone.
This is the narrow gate and
beyond the fable
the stone apparition asks
a favor not for himself or God.

Don Juan doesn’t care
one way or the other;
his humor, his sarcasm
hold to the end.
In fits and starts
even God has his limits
and wise-cracking cruelty and lust
will crack open the earth
to receive the perfect sinner.

Eaten by the earth,
walking into hell,
Don Juan winks back
at paradise lost,
smiles his arrogant smile,
and continues on his way.


     Time Flies

My youth flits by
like a subway,
like a swallow in spring,
like a vaulting buck in fall,
like a boy on a merry-go-round.

Wintry eld comes on me,
blowing me down the street
like a piece of waste paper,
comes rustling, taking me
to God knows where.

My youth in a flash
turned to ash,
gone by
as fast as light; the light
step dies, the flush dies away
from cheek and strength departs
from brawny shoulder.
The stars not so clear at night
and my veins stand out
like the canals on Mars
seen distant through
a telescope.

Where does it all go,
where do the dreams,
the doing, the conquering?
Like clouds over an island
blown on and on,
deep in the sky
they fade away.

Placid old man,
waiting and wondering,
I go along, sitting out
the day, the night,
lonely outposts
marking my time.        



Stop clapping in
the children's gallery;
no one feel sorry for me;
I'm just an actor,
a figure in a tragedy,
a player in a comedy,
a hero like Hamlet or
a rogue like Pathelin,
miles gloriosus to furious Ajax,
an invention, an involution
chewed on for too long
by the author and spit out
at the audience;
a hugger-mugger muddle
of a play,
patterned accidentally
on some long-ago opus,
lost in the lost
archives of Alexandria.
Oh, don't brood, Guy Guckersneff,
you big fat dope in the balcony,
your bald red hippo-dome will
remember this day, this play,
become famous as Don Juan in Hell,
King Lear or Colonian Oedipus;
all of them
paid the price of greatness,
snapping and crackling
with energy and glowing
with life and you can aspire
same as them
to the same fateful magnificent end
but it will never come;
Roland will never blow
his horn for you,
the messengers
of fame and fortune
will never come;
you will go ungrieved to Orcus.

Go home now with sugar-baby,
go to your little house
and live your life
as best you can;
for you, there are no
great moments,
no divine opportunities,
no monuments
to your enterprise;
an occasional playgoer
home late and
waking up again
and again going off
to the endless wheeling day
and like a weary buzzing bee,
loaded with labor,
going home again to sleep.


The Future of An Illusion

Deviations between docility
and firmness of mind.

Do we know what's out there?

The red insides of natural religion
pluck away the scabbard in the clouds,
showing the lightning,
but what's the good of that?

Seeing is not believing.

Zeus' ungodly lust for seduction
becomes a reminder of
inflexibility among hermits and seers,
lost in the confines of a
bygone mythology.

Outside in the roving infinities
of ancient long-ago seas,
for the doubtful
the greyness of half-hearted redemption.
The believer, lost in the sunny valleys
of wild waves,
foaming with rebellion and ire,
keeps his hope.

What is under and foregone
makes your respect for the past,
the chronology of Kronos,
the love of Jesus,
the vengeance of Yahweh,
bend your castles in the air
to illogical nonsense,
fanciful bushwa.

Upheld by the noble brigand
Chimerical, the illusory foil
of religion becomes
limp as a noodle.
Many-formed, many-headed,
showing up
in every time and clime
and here we go again,
bent double under the burden,
adorning the fable
and pointing a finger
for no good reason.

Maiden of Artemis,
some hell of a sweet and
useful priestess sister
helps her brother out,
no voice of vanity
for her goddess' sake,
swamps the shameful pride
of fatal and sober Orestes,
saves his life  
and home he goes again
to the house of his dead father and
imprudent and immodest mother,
just as dead.
His note is small now and
his horns devoutly pulled in.

In the immensity of Orpheus' singing shell
a religion in itself,
the black corridors of
Saint Francis' self-glorious
erroneous labyrinth open up
not on the world
of saints or conspicuous sufferers
rubbing up acquaintance with virtue,
boiled, burned, roasted or worse,
but deep in the metaphysical puppet's
fearful head and he's there,
believe it or not,
the influence of divine madness
agitates his wooden head
to vital flesh and in time, by Christ,
by Jehovah, by the rest of them,
his wooden soul becomes
an accomplice to the divine act
and he lives.

And goes on living,
whether you like it or not.


In one vigorous talented
burst of rage and desire,
I besought her, bestrode her,
rode her, loved her,
ever cherishing her,
she was never out of my mind;

she touched me.

Time passed
and in its passing,
I fell away from her,
lost her, lost my caring,
lost my way to her,
learned to be numb,
as we all must.

Later, in the lonely
shadowy years to come,
I performed my everyday duties,
as water in a bowl.