The Sword That Cuts Down Scepter and State

When among men will come the cost of deeds?
what mad pursuit of silk and gold is this
that we, we happy breed of men have let
a scepter and the state dictate the way
in which we continue forward as men,
and what is it in the goldsmith’s practice
that has led us to let the loaning keep
that better part of us as Grecian Urns
and manor like mansions of little worth
to the suffering depth of ages thence
and surely ages since, if we don’t change.

So, Columbus is face down with the tea,
the youth is once again out in the streets
singing their goals in melodies we’ve heard
before the creditors loaned out our dreams,
but what matters if we fail to see past
the deep injustice weeping in the past.

© J.P.V.

The Compass

My conscience is a needle’s point
that is thread through the days behind;
a compass am I to life’s magnet,
and I will be alright if lost
as long as I don’t go too far
up north and find myself frostbit
by the fury of winter snow.
The poles are no place for morals
or scruples when needing mere warmth.

© J.P.V.

The Crib

I must have toddled as well as the best,
but being uneasy by my crib
my little pumpkin head took to the wall
and thumped its first Orwellian plea.

Thirty four and I can still hear it,
Pops muttering under his breath, as Ma
‘Honey, its best to just ignore—
We do and its easier than conflict.

I know the path of least resistance leads
to toppled Rome—to people in furnaces,
and I must’ve toddled as well as the best
because I’ve done nothing fix the crib.

© J.P.V

Visions of Dust and Dirt

It’s things grown old that hurt my bones,
a spread of green can easily fold
to visions of dust and dirt, and worse.

Unwelcome drought of starving verse
is not as spoiled as half the mold.
it’s things grown old that hurt my bones,

But scarcely cause for me to disown
the meat of country, my home, resold
to visions of dust and dirt, and worse

Where bells can toll and then coerce
the starving youth with taunts of plastic gold:
it’s things grown old that hurt my bones.

None, or few, are so truly accursed—
it’s my own demons hot threshold
a vision of dust and dirt, and worse

This image, a curse in my control,
a thing grown old that hurts my bones
with visions of dust, and dirt, and worse.

© J.P.V.

Chicago Poet

Among the smoke and fog of a coal fire,
the steel and the city
sticks to my lungs,
clings to my walk,
while the smokestack’s
and the brick’s dust that floats aloft
with the steel mill and rail car sounds,
soot into Woo, dust into Aah,
and haunts my every thought
with a Chicago Poet’s lines
who’s a mountain to American gods.

© J.P.V.


Some say the times are changing fast,
Some say they always have.
From what I’ve seen of revolution
I’d not bet on the favor of man,
But if I had to pick up sword and slash
Down enemies of all that’s human
I’d cut down first the apple tree
And in my ignorance, I’d burn the wood
To keep me warm and eat the fruit
So diligently procured
And placed into a pyramid of glee
Glowing red between my boots.


The Gallows

Let elite’s country clubs become grave yards.
Come and erect the boards,
let down the noose, let known the deeds,
what wicked men have done in secret keeps
dark towers, smuggled underground,
hid from lit up day and the reeling crowd.

Come and erect the floors,
let fall the doors, let shown the feats
a kindred folks have done in public streets
and lit up parks we’ve gone into in need,
pitted against a common force in vows—

Down. Down. So cheers the crowd,
come and elect your wards;
let future know, let go the pull of strings
monstrous men have worked covertly to keep
under the earth, they sought to burn and reep
to keep the crowd from streets and indeed the clouds.

© J.P.V.

Should I Compare You To a Winters Morn – Sonnet 18 Shakespeare Mirror

Should I compare you to a winters morn?
You are more bitter and more discontent
Than winds that shake even the devils horns.
At least winter is cold but for a minute.
Sometimes the fingers of winter are warm,
And oft is the complexion painted ruse
By brush or surgeon changing the cold storm
Of crows feet that pass like the pain and bruise
Left yellowing by time and the pursuit
Eternal,the search for gold and jewels of youth,
But your lust shall not pass as falling fruit
Or summer days spent plyed in sweet vermouth
–So long as you can breath, or hand can spend,
–So long lives him, and you will bring an end.

© J.P.V.

A Pharaohs Rise

Among the worlds most pressing ruins I have seen
artifacts come rising as phoenixes
to part their form from the fierce driven wind
and sand that whirls around in its dying
hour of enjambment with earth and sky.

Here, now, I glimpse the masterwork divine,
the immense weight bearing architecture.
The lintel at the Treasury Of Atreus,
that both amazes and makes us a fool,
is suspended, accepted and controversial–
but any’ with their beating heart can see
the contradictory enigmas hidden jewel,
the canary in depths of the past’s stony keep.

You’ve asked me, what the sphinx is waiting for
in its ancient riddle of limestone repose,
about the alignments in the Giza Plateau
seen backwards, drifting towards Orion’s belt;
the once polished pyramids surface know this.
Time and its carcass has eroded the life we had built:
the same sands that bore the Seven Wonders
now actively cover up over our ancestral homes.

At Delphi’s famous dramatic amphitheater,
the Roman dogs and accidental thieves
of our earthen heritage quarried up their prayers
to ancient and sometimes all too human like gods,
with aspects as mysterious as hexagonal floors,
as Segesta and the possibility of what came before.

I’m no Princeton expert, was never meant to scrape
the sands away from academia’s financial sleep
or slow the politicians budgetary benchmark’s
ceaseless creep into the studies of antiquity.

I have only my words and my art to tell you
about human genomes and the stretching of time,
about the science behind the Homo Sapien,
Neanderthal, and Donisovan peoples kind.

In the annals of the peoples of the world,
and in the memories and the hearts of those
who lived much closer, the riddle was answered–
but Oedipus’s answer does not suffice
the missing lines, swallowed by ravenous sand.

I have only to tell you about a massive avenue
that goes in curves and snakes through Chile and Peru,
longer than China’s Wall, and drawn out over the land
to connect all Incan temples and polygonal sprawl.

Like Machu Peachu and Cuzco, the bedrock joins,
as mason, the Human and Donisonvan kind
to a record of ingenuity seen through
the kaleidoscope of time and the impact of asteroids.

The Channeled Scablands in Eastern Washington State
form forks and branches of a world remade in fire
and floods that scraped and scabbed the land ‘till oceans rose
four hundred feet, and we’ve only the stones to see
and the mythologies the peoples kept on tongue.
The archaeology might as well be thousands of leagues
submerged beneath the sea, from off Cuba to Yanagoni.

The Carolina Bays point to cataclysm,
as do the Nebraskan Rainwater Basins tips;
The dappled and dimpled surface ablaze with ice
and fire from an asteroid that nearly killed us.

We’ve now the tools precise enough to seed
minds with such accuracy as to remake the world,
If only we’d be open enough to drink
from mythology, stone, and the briny sea.

There are ruins built upon the backs of megalithic stones,
and I tell you that the weathered paws of the Sphinx know this;
that Baalbek and the Temple of Bacchus groan out their age
and denounce the modern scholars Roman naming and rape.

Under the columns and setting sun, the once great city,
Heliopolis comes crumbling out. Elemental chaos,
Atum, and Ra giving fully over to thousands of tons:
the expectant blocks of an unknown and talented race lacking
The Stone Of The Pregnant Woman, that bears the babe
in its monumental architecture that predates the first plow.

One only needs to go to Gobekli Tepe to see
the origins of mans megalithic past bursting forth
from rounded belly with heavy stone heaved up the stone
courses and circles of mans ancient grasp, purposely hid
and buried in land—known forever as Potbelly Hill.
One only needs to hide something they’re wanting to save.

The helical drill marks found in the granite holes
amid Egyptian tools and relics of the day
speak volumes to those who’d seek their course
around in spirals about the core with string.

The bronze age chiseled stone, chipped and fitted over
the hardest black boxes—quarried in granite and quartz.
Forty thousand enduring diorite vessels
found safe under the step pyramids put-ons
of less skilled craftsman stacked up on more.
The names of pharaohs hastily scraped
into the bowls, vases and boxes from before.

You’ve asked about the mysterious triangular shapes
found stacked in stone around the world’s different coasts,
and I tell you that the age old mythologies speak loads
and heaves stone up on stone upon the oral histories
and time worn hieroglyphic writings of antiquity.

From Noah to every corner of the globe
we’re told of floods and a world remade by the gods,
and as today Hiawatha Crater stands as evidence
to a time when asteroids pocked the land and lit
the forests ablaze, sending small animals, mammoths
and megafauna to their watery ash covered graves.

Human kind must have faced near extinction that day,
and like the tower of babel and the confusion of language
must have sent us into a serious dark age;
not like the one to come with fall of Rome, oh no
more like 3000 years spent hunched over an empty fire,
only to wander the sands of Egypt and find ,
on the luscious banks of the Nile, black granite boxes
and many a helpful stone jar to fill with drink
and pass the time while awaiting a pharaoh’s rise.

© J.P.V.

The Stillest Things

The summer crests and meets
fleeting flecks of dyeing dog days,
an era vanishes into the past—

Wind compels chameleon leaves,
the changelings of the spring—
falling fertilizer of the fall.

The scarecrow skeletons of trees
bend as if bowing to the snow—
branches cackle an ominous fate.

Terra-firma turns to velvet cream—
winter blue crystals stray to aqua
clear vista’s of vernal flowering.

A true myriad of blossom buds
erupting and breaking their bonds
for the flight of precious pollen—

Each evolution of petals richer,
providing that its canvas is fed
waters the color of summer skies.

The luscious earth is parched to dirt,
tumble weeds scrape at the land—
signaling the weathers storms at last.

Floods come and smooth the scabs—
the birds fly south; they always have,
and an era vanishes into the past.

© J.P.V.

Tracing that Long Path

Our lives pass like cherry blossoms,
snapped from hurried branch to ripened fruit.
We flit from first to fledged to finished,
put out to ash one hundred years an instant.
A truth we scarcely want to envision,
yet death and quantum mechanics will have it.

In human want and vanity we make
the cosmos roll into a ball and laugh,
as if our hundred was even a flash
to its endless procession of cold stars.
It’s like to ants a rose would bloom eternal.

Do not ask the cosmos or pyramids
of the atoms that went into their form,
or the rose of the ants that flit across its back:
for the pyramids would not even know
of sciences written in scales of man.

The seasons changing keys set fruit to fall
from mindful sagging branch to brutal dust
below. The ants divert their sacred path
to sweets divinely delivered on high,
like man attributing meaning to change.

Is it just we who contemplate the ants,
the Sagan starstuff, the music vast?


Beeping Machines

My flesh stripped from the bones,
the body miraculous
stands but as a series of groans
and gears in breach of trust;

MRIs & Cat Scans only tell so much.
Silence from loved ones, the sentence
unjustly delivered by mere instrument.
The Doc’s not much better with bed manner;

O, I suppose that once he was,
before giving the news became
the norm, like blood to be withdrawn:
before the babes’ weeping had claimed
that last corner of what it meant to be
a doctor, and save the births and the children
he’d rather be fishin’, or so said the pin
suspended from his lab coat’s vest pocket.

Drooping and thinking of the rafter beams,
the dangling rope, the suspension of self
aloft, I took note of a glimmering hope,
perhaps I’d beat the odds and those damn beep,
beep, beep, beeping machines.

© J.P.V.

We Wish to be Kings not Free

We wish to be a king not free
of the autocrat or tyrant’s
immortal knee on our airway—
easier to be chained than change.

From the varmint to the largest
mammalian brute to walk on fours
the wants the same, to be apex
and not the helpless lowly prey.

The rabbit dreams of being man
with .410 shotgun in his hand,
to sneak and stalk its lucky prey
and feast like king for all its days.

No matter if it eats on lucky
rabbit feet to fill it stomachs dreams.

The bison imagine a time
when they are king among the beasts
and wield a mind like Oppenheimer
to make tremble the wolf in fleece.

The wolf in its woolly clothing
fears no bison or weapons reach.

We never dream to be set free
of jowls upon our throats, but each
is happy and content to plea
and wish of finer cloth and feasts.


To be

This rusted throne of kings, this gilded smile,
This divine right of blood, this gift of sight,
This better race of man, madness defiles
This luscious home of dreams, this earthly plight,
This inherited form, this gift of life,
This other choice of men, madness defines.

© J.P.V.

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