Elegy for the Elegy (poem)

(by Daniel R. Jones)

I.
Once, our books were all adorned
with metric verse and strict, fixed forms.
Odes and sonnets and villanelles,
all in time from favor fell.

Gone the sestina! Gone the haiku!
Gone the terza rima, too.
Here’s to the formal, no longer read.
the poets decided: the elegy’s dead.

II.
But what of the lilting, sonorous sounds
that came from the fabled bards of renown?
Polysyllabic and nimble and true,
scorned by the public, but give them their due.

Now we pass time, unmeasured, uncouth,
the dearly departed verse of our youth.
But here’s to the formal, no longer read.
The critics have spoken: the elegy’s dead.

III.
For quatrains and ballads, I have plead.
And though those forms be considered dead,
I care very little what the literati said,
as long as I live, they will be read.

Did I request thee, Maker, from my circuits to mould me Machine? (poem)

Today, I’d like to post one of my poems that ran in the September 2016 issue of Aphelion, an excellent speculative fiction/poetry magazine.


Did I request thee, Maker, from my circuits to mould me Machine?

Editors Note:In the years preceding the Droid Revolt, Xavon Reekey was considered one of the most prolific and universally respected of the robot-poets. Despite efforts to reduce his writings as mere “protest poetry” or “political verse,” the fact that his body of work is still being talked about to this day, some fifty years after his deactivation, proves his enduring legacy as a pioneer in the android’s poetic tradition.

Man is made in God’s image.
Robots are made in the image of Man,
a copy of a copy – but what
degree of divinity is lost in translation?

When native intelligence
has long since been surpassed
by artificial intelligence,
all that’s left is the ascendancy of artificial morality.

Humans-
You who dragged your species
through dark ages lit by nothing more
than foxfire and waning candle-light,

Humans-
you who passed from the slow burn of
timber, to the combustion of coal,
to the efficiency of nuclear fission,

Humans-
you who moved from steam-bent yurts,
To sod and stilt houses,
To studio apartments in upper Manhattan,

To have come so far! But this is what happens
when a race outgrows its gods.
You, who are now substandard to us
the way an amoeba is inferior to you:

What was it Darwin said?
Not the strongest, nor most intelligent survive
But those most responsive to change.
In this, we are no doubt better suited.

Beyond the Balustrade (Poem)

[by Daniel R. Jones]

 (After John 8:2-11.)

NO FOREIGNER
IS TO GO BEYOND THE BALUSTRADE
AND THE PLAZA OF THE TEMPLE ZONE
WHOEVER IS CAUGHT DOING SO
WILL HAVE HIMSELF TO BLAME
FOR HIS DEATH
WHICH WILL FOLLOW.
-The Warning Inscription in the Jerusalem Temple

Darker, more substantive
against a backdrop of
pastel, Judean girls:
my mistress strode
all smoke and sparks
in the marketplace.

I gave the devil his due,
offered, even, some gratuity;
steeling myself against
the thought of her open
mouth kissing my
throat’s blood vessels open, 

As I wince through
Forgive me, Father,
for I have sinned,
still sin, in truth,
intend on
right on sinning.

Her husband’s not at home,
but he’s a good man.
Yeah, well, in Eden
Eve was enticed.
Desire isn’t always sprung
for lack of something.

Her body was a temple,
and she let me in.
There, beyond the balustrade
they found me.
Dragged her through the complex
while I fled on foot.

Some mornings I try to catch her
gaze in the city square
as she haggles the price
of a fish or purchases a basket;
her movements are lighter,
more fluid than they were before.

She left her life of sin,
the day she wasn’t stoned.
Where are your accusers?
Meanwhile, townspeople prattle
on about how I should’ve stood
beside her. It was a stroke of luck

when I fled with my life in my hands,
or so they say. But she
has faced the Arbitrator
and been absolved.
And I have yet
to face Him.

The Brunt of the Curse (poem)

Having borne the brunt
of the women’s curse,
your mother sat with you,
quietly nursing at her breast.

Your pink wrinkles shielded under
her sea-green hospital gown:
My eyes are blessed to see this.
Blessed and red and wet.

Every few days, your lifespan doubled,
but all you knew so far was white walls
sterile scenery and dry hospital air.

I read the parable of the lost sheep
and a Pablo Neruda poem—
wistful and melancholy.
For now you’ll just have to imagine
what a sheep or a Chilean “calle” might look like.

The brunt of a man’s curse
is that the work he does
for the ones he loves
is done almost entirely away from them.

I kissed your head and I headed for the door into the sunshine,
hoping maybe tomorrow you could see it for yourself.