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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”
Ulysses
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
Headphones
In the private booths
 
I step amidst the tall shelves, eyes trace
Authors, titles, searching
Alphabetically
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
 
..
 
1992
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,
Monumental,
Letters inserted like bookmarks,
Become lifelong treasures,
He calls me Rache, I call him
Colbey

..
 
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
Electronically
 
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
Below
Bemused, I pay the nominal
Fee and enter the Celtic
Festivities
 
Purchase a pint of Guinness
Stand about with a group of men
Singing along
To a cover band
I join in
 
..
 
2002
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
Camaraderie
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
Strings
 
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
Peeks
Over the horizon, signaling an end
To our reverie
One by one, our dissonant
Voices raise, join
Become
A harmony

..
 
Leave the festival,
Walk down the avenue, the noise behind
Dims to a murmur, then is
Lost
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
Identifiable
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
 
..
 
1984
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
Miles
 
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
Tongue

 
..
 
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
Spire
 
I was her, and I remember
 
..
 
1985
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
Collapsed
Upon itself, looking drunken
And defeated, a sight all too
Familiar
In other context
 
The hobie cats are dragged
Impossibly
Far inland, perversely askew upon
Their sides or
Flipped over, sails
Rent or missing
Altogether
 
Dad rants and raves as his gnarly
Little dog, happily
Chases him
About, sharp retorts from its noisome
Yap
 
With unbelievable dignity
And strength, mom rallies my brother
Alfred and the hired hand to help her
Right the crafts and
Drag them
Back
To the waterline
 
Alfred leaves Florida behind
Later that same
Day, his eyes
Forlorn and saying
Goodbye
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
Fall
Apart
Even as I erect a second
Line
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
Laughter
 
I was them, and I remember
 
..
 
1994
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
Midnight
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
Three
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
Blows
 
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
Back
And sides
 
Dominic fights from his back and
Somehow
Fends off all
Comers
 
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
Fast
Motes
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
Retorts

 
..
 
A couple hold
Hands as they enter the
Sea, alternately floating and
Swimming
Deeper, bobbing with head
And shoulders above
Water, they hold each
Other
 
I was them, and I remember
 
..
 
2004
The heat of her presence begins to
Dwarf
The bonfire, which holds the
Darkness
At bay, it’s flickering
Tongues raise their lithe
Arms into the sky in a primal
Dance
 
Burton keeps a cold beer atop his
Amplifier as his fingers strangle
Raucous chords from the belly of his
Guitar
 
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
Singles
Or pairs
 
I take her hand and we
Walk into the
Sea
 
We push out, past the violent
Breaks to the deep and
Undulating
Umbra
 
Her arms across my
Shoulders, lips tasting and sucking my
Own, I caress her
Beneath the warm
Waters, pull aside her swim suit and
Lower
Mine
 
Her legs come
Around me
Powerfully as she lowers her hot
Crown
 
Our kisses are
Breathy, torsos grind and
Writhe
Below the dark
Waves

 
..
 
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
Down
To rest
 
I rise and brush the windblown
Silt from my black
Dress pants, turn and
Return
The way I came
 
And I remember
 
A solitary purslane bobs in the
Breeze
Unburdened by
Memories
 
..
 
Memento (mori)
By
Daniel Christensen
DanielChristensen
Written by DanielChristensen (The Fire Elemental)
Published
Author's Note
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...
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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