Alternate Paradises


All poems are of death and though some may seem
not to mention it (dressed as they are
in gilded intentions not to mention it) they do.
They can’t help themselves since it looms
behind every word no matter how light
and above that thought they fly. 
No matter how full of life they are they can’t escape its ballast
or throw it effectively off to watch
as it falls into an abyss as their colorful silk balloon,
suddenly free, sinks into clouds, momentarily levitating
above rain forests and sweet rivers,
above wine dark seas and the snows of Kilimanjaro,
above glittering sunstroked streams
and lovers walking beside them in bliss,
above day lilies and lupine, above coffee at six
with you when the still earth loses its gloom
and blue heaven comes with sun
and makes a more pallid moon.

So, because all poems are of that dark thought
which seems more absolute
than its contradiction
we imagine alternate paradises beyond—
somewhere we hope is out of its reach
and tell tales of them to the young
to give them respite in worlds 
that lovers now reach

Jim Culleny