Alternate Paradises


all poems are of death and though some seem
not to mention it (dressed as they are
in bright intentions to make it moot) they do
they can’t help themselves since it looms
over every word no matter how light
and above that truth they fly

no matter how vital they are they can’t resist its ballast
or throw it effectively off to watch
it drop into mud as their brilliant silk balloon,
suddenly free, vanishes in cloud
for a moment floating 
above rain forests
sweet rivers wine dark seas
and the snows of Kilimanjaro,
above sunstroked streams
and lovers walking in bliss,
above day lilies, lupine,
and coffee with you at six

as the still earth sloughs its gloom
and blue heaven comes with sun
yo make a more pallid moon

because all poems are of that shadow
(which seems more absolute
than its contradiction)
we imagine an alternate paradise beyond
somewhere beyond a breach
and tell tales of it to the young
to give them mythic respite
disregarding a simpler truth:
in this world is a paradise
lovers may reach

Jim Culleny