Melancholic Magician (prose poem)

There once was a man with melancholy. A magician, in fact. A failed magician, in many respects, but a magician, nonetheless.

This sad magician sat, every day, with quill in hand at a writing desk, every day convinced that if he were to write down the perfect words, set in the exact order, it’d create a sort of magic rune which could cure him of the chronic anhedonia which plagued him.

At times, he got close. The incantation he set to paper was maybe a word off, when he read it aloud. So he’d tinker with the syntax and diction for a couple weeks, swapping the order of a couple words here; substituting a synonym there.

And those near misses sustained him, staving away his melancholy for a little while.

But because the respite was short-lived, he threw out the would-be healing spells and started fresh, hoping to one day cure his ailment.

On certain days, he’d leave his writing desk, exploring the world outside the four-walls of his study. 

For what if the incantation involved words I haven’t yet learned? he wondered. Signifiers for objects I may not yet know exist?

And the magician aged and his hidebound journals piled up, in the pursuit of the perfect words, set in perfect order.

And you’ve probably guessed, Dear Reader, that this magician is most every poet; that the magician is the writer scrawling on the other end of the page you’re now reading.

This poem, or whatever you call it, is, itself, an attempt at that magic rune.

View from the Window (poem)

(by Daniel R. Jones)

Just out the door is a stream that spills downward
into a brass bowl of a pond.
It serves as home to scores of bluegills,
fit for frying, if you can catch and clean as many.

And if you were to head due west 
two and three-quarter miles,
you’d find a farmer leaning against his split rail fence,
looking over some fifty head of cattle.

Nearby, his son is turning in from mucking the stalls.
He stands barefoot on the grass, 
clapping the heels of his work boots together,
deriving strange satisfaction with each dirt clod he loosens.

If you could climb in the cockpit of a crop duster,
southern Indiana would spread out beneath you like a quilt,
with patchwork fields every shade 
of gold and green and brown.

But if any of this is true, I am oblivious to it.
My day was made of spent toner cartridges,
the taste of no. 9 commercial envelopes,
and flickering, fluorescent light.

Paranalysis (poem)

(by Daniel R. Jones)

You couldn’t write, although you tried.
So you arranged your suicide.

You sat there jotting down your note.

You didn’t like the words you wrote.

You knew it somewhere ’round draft four:
Living beats revising more.

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.