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"For love is but a skein unwound Between the dark and dawn." -- W.B.Yeats
One of the Thoughtful ChildrenHe made his choice and then induced with passive voice and limbs unloosed his prey to try his innocence and was seduced. He could not stay, soon after this, a single day without his kiss. He even said, "It's you I love" -- for emphasis. His fresh techniques, good looks, and youth in some few weeks led his uncouth but practical intelligence to this plain truth: The man whose sex is ruled by sense -- and thus erects his heart's defense -- lives safe within impregnable indifference.© Carl Selph, 1991 First published in the San Miguel Writer
Clair de LuneThe little room The narrow bed My loving arm Your dreaming head The words of love And our first kiss The whole wide world Compressed to this But innocence Can work like sin The window let The moonshine in© Carl Selph, 1999
Notes on a Dead LoveAll things being equal since that day Our time together seems remote as Ilium And quaint as angels in a long-dead disputation. We breakfasted upon the praise of friends And gently drank their envy up. With subtle doubts we posed for photgraphs To monumentalize our joy. I suppose now I know -- Though knowledge does not determine action -- That fires are not set by wishing Nor man sustained by appearances before friends; Nor does love necessarily rise, imperious and stern, From the ice-cave anguish of the heart's desire.© Carl Selph, 1959 First published in Descant
RemembranceYe have lefte me sweche a remembraunce that makyth me to thynke uppe on yow bothe day and nyth wanne I wold sclepe. -- Margaret Paston, l4 December 1441She sleeps now, calm as a starveling lamb, all green remembrances brown-edged from the long freeze. Both day and night she prayed he'd been left obsessed, besieged by thought when he would lief have slept. But how he slept! -- unharassed by thought. Long before he left He had thralled day and night. Feeling no freeze, his remembrances -- a fat, cud-chewing lamb -- through her dark-age grazed calm.© Carl Selph, 1999
The Old PirateThe rigging creaks. She rides becalmed. At night a memory like St. Elmo's fire inspects those perilous troughs and crests, your dark, unfathomable hair; regards that fearsome, wing-like lip, its tenuous touch and temperature; illuminates but throws me down the abyss of your addictive flesh. I seized and ravished what I found-- the sapphires, rubies, emeralds-- but never spied nor sought nor dreamed the shrouded, gaudy jewel you kept. Setting no watch, secure, I thought you lacked the will to slip my knot. Hi-ho.... My brigantine, slack-sailed, unmanned, the guns all spiked, rocks mirrored in a glassy sea.© Carl Selph, 1992 First published in the San Miguel WriterNo Peace but Rage
Age brings no peace but rage against loss, a clenched fist in the hollowed chest. Who could have known such available pain, anger, grief, this young, this old. The waiting, the waiting, those grinding years, then the amazing blindingly offered. I have committed an unforgiveable sin, watching, credent, while callow you with confused intent, remarking your tears, mutilate and maim, blundering.© Carl Selph, 1999
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