Our own mistreadings teach us to forget
Malicious injuries by enemies
Blinded by fury or furiously beset
By false need or envious disease,
But does experience thus disqualify
All perception of external wrongs
As failure of the spirit to clarify
Its purpose and seat itself where it belongs?
It might be so, but if philosophy
Allows some modest, unobtrusive play
Of brief, deserved superiority,
Might not an angel smile and look away?
Angels may smile, whatever you think of me,
If one does somehow stumble forgivably.
This flock of parrots rises raucously.
Disintegrating, one feels–a heartbeat–
That integrity itself is a vanity
Bird-brains wisely flee to cheat,
While scornful apes gently sigh and swing
Bitterly, on twisted vines, invisibly
Moaning starving codes of everything:
Thou shalt not hit thy brother with a coconut,
Or doubt bananas ripen full and sweet,
Or yield thy heart to evil; keep it shut
To vicious feasts that smiling devils eat.
The waking spirit, though the parrots tweet,
Looks toward that massive pyramid
Whose solid purpose the living jungle hid.
Dark Devotion for Night
Crows on the horns of the moon, rapid swerves
Aside by flailing bats who hear each hum,
The old pit bull, whose tragic howl still serves
To prophesy sirens before they come,
Dark motions in darkness escort the night
In dangerous dignity westward; no glowing sun
Will find her, and Asia will hide her from the light
As shadows first hide and then begin to run
Toward the East, where Night will soon arrive,
Cooling down the energies burning away,
Assuring the world the sun will not survive
Her long, slow dance with the furious day.
Her starlit orchestra will play as it played
Before Apollo’s bright chariot was made.
Lesson for the Laughing Academy
Prudence requires motives. In the confusion
Of what makes us fox-trot through this wood
Of wary weariness, unending profusion
Of beckoning options, none of them any good,
We look for the heavens to illuminate the way,
And there between the dark, concealing leaves
May lie a shining fragment of Lyra to obey,
But, otherwise, conjecture persuades and deceives.
So prudence requires prudence, it cannot begin
In imprudence. Insanity may justly smirk
At sanity, but it won’t let it in,
Nor will caution let incaution do its work.
This howling darkness of occluded skies
Requires sanity to philosophize.
Hearing the Key in the Door
The backwash of ambivalence supplies
A kind of baffled chorus to recognition,
Rushing to distract with a flood of lies,
Babbling in a shallow inanition.
Yet what has most marked the moments before,
Ceteris paribus, flashes in the night,
The long-awaited turning of the key in the door,
The furiously oxidizing meteorite,
The consummation of a kindly glance,
Defies the foolish chorus’s afterthought,
Separating essence and circumstance
And grasping the value the recognition brought.
Thus abstractly, in darkness I review
Evaporating shapes that once I knew.
R. W. Haynes writes and teaches in Laredo, Texas, where he is a professor of English at Texas A&M International University.
His work has been published in 300 Days of Sun, 66: The Journal of Sonnet Studies, Ampersand Poetry Journal, Anastomoo, Blast Furnace, Boston Poetry Magazine, Cardinal Sins, Cause & Effect Magazine, Farrago, Indian Review, Kritya, Kudzu Review, Lucayos, Lucid Rhythms, Off the Coast, Pocket Change, Poetry Life & Times, Queen City Review, Sage Trail Poetry Magazine, Sonnetto Poesia, Synesthesia Literary Journal, Taj Mahal Review, Tertulia Magazine, The American Aesthetic, The Bicycle Review, The Brasilia Review, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, The Faircloth Review, The Horton Foote Review, The Lake, The Muse, The Rusty Nail, The Sixers Review, The Virtuous Mimicry , Third Wednesday, Thresholds Literary Journal, Willows Wept Review, Windhover, Yes, and Poetry.