Memento (mori)

“Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,  
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.  
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:  
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep  
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,  
'T is not too late to seek a newer world.  
Push off, and sitting well in order smite  
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds  
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths  
Of all the western stars, until I die.  
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:  
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,  
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.  
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'  
We are not now that strength which in old days  
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;  
One equal temper of heroic hearts,  
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will  
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield”  
Alfred Lord Tennyson  
I’m at work  
Walking the library aisles  
In its subdued silence, which  
Are permeated by a faint  
Musk of wood pulp, returning books  
To their places in handfuls  
From the work cart  
Patrons circle the DVDs in groups, far  
Fewer in the stacks  
Huddled over laptops wearing  
In the private booths  
I step amidst the tall shelves, eyes trace  
Authors, titles, searching  
Verner Z. Reed, Tales of the Sun-Land  
Mark Reefe, The Road to Jericho, The Valley of Hinnom  
Mickey Zucker Reichert  
My eyes fall across The Last of the Renshai  
We read, chapter by chapter,  
Mailing a single copy back and forth,  
Underlining passages, notes in the margins,  
Little quips and queries,  
How now brown sow? Low brow belated prow?  
Weeks of anticipation between,  
Makes each new discovery,  
Letters inserted like bookmarks,  
Become lifelong treasures,  
He calls me Rache, I call him  
After work,  
Walk over the bridge, many pavilions  
Erected in the usually tranquil  
Park, across the Halifax  
Wind begins to carry the sounds of many  
Voices, some few augmented  
Closer still, the throngs  
Dissolve into individuals  
And groups  
Many of the men wear kilts  
Axe throwing, pint draining  
Competitions, savory smells of roast  
Meats waft from  
Bemused, I pay the nominal  
Fee and enter the Celtic  
Purchase a pint of Guinness  
Stand about with a group of men  
Singing along  
To a cover band  
I join in  
I’m back from college, he’s back  
From the Army, all our old  
Friends suddenly  
Reunited, the past decade becomes  
A half remembered dream as all our old  
Asserts itself  
Without missing a beat  
Gino and Jamie wrestle across the cement  
Denting storage unit doors  
In their struggle  
Hard cider runs out, all night  
Liquor store yields tequila, vodka  
And whiskey  
Shala pees on the grass for lack  
Of a nearby toilet  
Laughter stills as Burton fingers  
The guitar  
We stand in a semicircle, sway and bob  
On our feet, I raise my voice  
In deep  
Pure tones, which pour  
With feeling  
Unwelcome dawn  
Over the horizon, signaling an end  
To our reverie  
One by one, our dissonant  
Voices raise, join  
A harmony  
Leave the festival,  
Walk down the avenue, the noise behind  
Dims to a murmur, then is  
In the din  
Of wind  
And traffic  
Make my way  
To the beach and sit  
Down at a picnic table, overlooking  
The vista  
Folks in the water, laying back, enjoying  
The sun, washing themselves  
At the shower  
Throwing a football around  
Wind brings me smells  
Of salt  
Hot dogs  
Suntan lotion  
Cold brews  
And sweat  
Each mingled and yet  
Upon my palate  
A boy releases a cry of  
Shock as the warm  
Waters wash over his sun  
Bronzed skin  
I was him, and I remember  
I’ve never seen a beach like this  
Before, the sand in Brooklyn is  
Coarse, strewn with jagged bits of  
Shell, seaweed ropes lay moldering  
About, their carrion stink palpable  
Ugly horseshoe crabs in their unfriendly  
Armor, warding spikes dot their  
Length, here, the sand is  
Soft, pure  
And white  
It stretches for unimaginable  
I run with glee to the warm salt  
Waters, crash into the surf as it crashes  
Into me with a rough  
Embrace, droplets of salt launched  
Skyward by force of  
Collision, burn my  
Eyes, nostrils, overpower my  
A girl sits against the water line, legs out  
Flat to the sides, feet  
Touching, water  
Pouring over her slender  
Legs becomes trapped into her  
Momentary atoll  
She dumps dark, saturated  
Sand from a bucket, upside  
Down, lifting it  
Away, to reveal a slumped  
I was her, and I remember  
Our boat rental business on Lake  
Osborne has been ransacked  
By the hurricane  
The simple log cabin with its greenish  
Hues and semi scraped  
Barnacles lay  
Upon itself, looking drunken  
And defeated, a sight all too  
In other context  
The hobie cats are dragged  
Far inland, perversely askew upon  
Their sides or  
Flipped over, sails  
Rent or missing  
Dad rants and raves as his gnarly  
Little dog, happily  
Chases him  
About, sharp retorts from its noisome  
With unbelievable dignity  
And strength, mom rallies my brother  
Alfred and the hired hand to help her  
Right the crafts and  
Drag them  
To the waterline  
Alfred leaves Florida behind  
Later that same  
Day, his eyes  
Forlorn and saying  
Another familiar sight  
I fill and dump my plastic  
Pail, making a line of dark and  
Slumped watchtowers  
Across the shore  
The first begin to  
Even as I erect a second  
Of defense
A group of boys tossing the  
Pigskin back and  
Forth begin to rough  
House, blows exchange, sand kicked  
Up in each other’s  
Faces, feints, retreats, snarls of  
Insults and barks of hoarse  
I was them, and I remember  
Driving up and down the strip for  
Hours, hollering at girls, laughing  
Our asses off as Steve does his  
Jim Carrey like spastic  
Dances, on command  
We park well after  
And walk along  
The shore, shouting our  
Banter over the crush  
Of waves  
We’re approached by a gang of  
Hoods that demand money  
And attack before we’ve even  
Had a chance  
To respond  
They’ve got us at least  
To one  
Burton gets his glasses knocked  
Off and goes into  
A ball  
Frank fights back  
To back with  
David, both receiving  
And dealing tremendous  
I hold one of these nocturnal  
Pirates in a headlock, pounding his gasping  
And screaming face in while  
At least two  
More batter my head, primarily  
From the  
And sides  
Dominic fights from his back and  
Fends off all  
Blood fills my mouth and foams  
Out between my clenched  
Teeth, like wave crests pouring  
Against shoals  
I go into a void of utter  
Horror, lanced through with streaks of pain  
Lightning, an animal rage  
Rises in my belly like a dire  
Sun, even as stars begin to pour  
In slow and  
Around the edges  
Of my vision  
A fat molar lodged in my  
Knuckle like a battle  
Crown will not be discovered until  
Our attackers have fled  
And adrenaline  
Ebbs, many aches and  
Pains growing  
Bold in their internal  
A couple hold  
Hands as they enter the  
Sea, alternately floating and  
Deeper, bobbing with head  
And shoulders above  
Water, they hold each  
I was them, and I remember  
The heat of her presence begins to  
The bonfire, which holds the  
At bay, it’s flickering  
Tongues raise their lithe  
Arms into the sky in a primal  
Burton keeps a cold beer atop his  
Amplifier as his fingers strangle  
Raucous chords from the belly of his  
Her eyes are daggers of  
Desire, demanding my full  
Attention as I sing and walk around  
Those gathered  
Slapping shoulders and receiving return  
Blows of a more  
Or less  
Friendly variety  
As the small hours  
Approach, our coterie begins  
To thin, as individuals  
Make their subtle or  
Dramatic exits, in  
Or pairs  
I take her hand and we  
Walk into the  
We push out, past the violent  
Breaks to the deep and  
Her arms across my  
Shoulders, lips tasting and sucking my  
Own, I caress her  
Beneath the warm  
Waters, pull aside her swim suit and  
Her legs come  
Around me  
Powerfully as she lowers her hot  
Our kisses are  
Breathy, torsos grind and  
Below the dark  
And I remember  
The sun glows upon my  
Shoulders and back through my  
Black dress shirt with the  
Warmth and mild discomfiture of a  
Cat, kneading before settling  
To rest  
I rise and brush the windblown  
Silt from my black  
Dress pants, turn and  
The way I came  
And I remember  
A solitary purslane bobs in the  
Unburdened by  
Memento (mori)  
Daniel Christensen
Written by DanielChristensen (The Fire Elemental)
Published | Edited 13th Jun 2019
Author's Note
Copyright © 2019 by Daniel Christensen

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

A memento, as most know, is a keepsake that triggers some associated memory. Memento by itself in latin means "To remember." When you add mori, you get the popular phrase, "Remember that you must die." This poem is about how we, as creatures of awareness beyond that which is entirely necessary to survive in our various environs, are continually assailed by memories of the past. I hope you find this very intimate portrait into my life enjoyable, relatable and perhaps even endearing.
All writing remains the property of the author. Don't use it for any purpose without their permission.
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