Alternate Paradises


All poems are of death and though some may seem
not to mention it (dressed as they are
in gilded intentions to make it moot) they do

They can’t help themselves since it looms
behind every word no matter how light
and above the thought they fly

No matter how life-filled they are they can’t escape its ballast
or throw it effectively off to watch
it fall into a ditch as their colorful silk balloon,
suddenly free, sinks into clouds, momentarily levitating
above rain forests, sweet rivers, wine dark seas
and the snows of Kilimanjaro;
above glittering sunstroked streams
and lovers walking their banks in bliss,
above day lilies, lupine, and coffee at six
with you as 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 appears more absolute
than its contradiction)
we imagine an alternate paradise beyond—
somewhere beyond the breach

We tell tales of it to the young
to give them respite in mythic worlds, 
disregarding a simpler truth

In this world is a paradise
lovers may reach

Jim Culleny