Once when the world was wizened
And I was an upstart slave, shackled to my imagined savvy
I fancied myself a meteor
A fireball in free-fall, burning
Tumbling to an earth not ready for my splendor
Stumbling amid the rubble of prior sages
Learning of the higher ages of reason and rhyme
But rejecting them as relics of time and space long expired
I questioned and queried in a quest for quintessence
But discovered little more than trails of stardust
On the littered, splintered ground beneath my feet
Following them, I found to my dismay
They were but the residue of my arrogance

Now that the world is whipped and worn
And I am regarded as a magus, weary of feigned wisdom
I style myself a wayward don
Clad in the threadbare regalia of intellect
Mad from the potency of introspection
Wandering through a fatuous wasteland
Outwardly absorbed in speculation
Spewing sophistry and selling it as science
Swindling the simpletons and taking little solace
In the counterfeit accolades of my learnèd opinions
I orate and declaim, postulate and preach
Keeping up the storied pretense
But gain little more than fool’s gold
Pyrite pebbles to reward my grand diatribes
Tossed on the mossy marbled steps of academe
Gathering them, I find to my surprise
They are but fair exchanges on my worth

Tomorrow when the world is ripe and green
I will behold with scorn the umber of my approaching end
I expect I’ll drive a carnival rig
A tired train of careworn calliopes and animal cages
Rusted out from years of rolling across a withered landscape
Encrusted with the dust of decades of neglect
Painted in the dim hues of yesteryear’s spectacle
Trying still to entertain and thrill my public
Smelling stale of old popcorn and pink cotton candy
I will set up my midway and hawk my handbills
To the tired throngs of sardonic passersby,
Now jaded to juggling and silly circus stunts
But they will see little more than stubs of torn tickets
Bits of worthless paper destined to ride an indifferent wind
Littering an abandoned lot of brown grass and promises
Only to find me, standing center ring with an elder’s vainglorious vigor
In a tattered top hat, jodhpurs and tails, refusing to relent
Booming my piteous message of nonsense through a megaphone
To a sea of unsold seats

© Thomas Horton, 2013



I love the streaks of alliteration in this piece, especially, “I questioned and queried in a quest for quintessence”–that one line sets the tone for the entire labyrinth of thought. It is almost like you are deeming yourself a charlatan sage, spitting out whatever innocuous words the masses want to hear without offering them any real nuggets of wisdom, and getting pyrite coins in exchange–possibly because they know you really know nothing except the stardust trails you traveled upon.

I can see you now, a fake psychic staring into a crystal ball.

Well enjoyed piece–love the free verse. I like rhyming too, but everything need not rhyme or be constricted in “brevity” (ugh). Me, I much prefer longer verses!

Many blessings,

Raven Aurora