The beautiful dead

11:38 p.m.
desert milk moonunnamed
streets sharpened and
peeled back in poems
sitting in my study with a
book of Jeffers next to a
play by Eliot
a drive across the oceans
of ink
of boulevards pronounced
in smoke and sweat
decades adding up and creating
a feel of Faust
of Cervantes
milk moon
and flags in blue fire
reading the heavyweights
plucked like stones
from the shelf.
Tonight’s a night for them.
A Machiavelli moon
lit high above
a Sun Tzu street
enough of our genius
without them we’d be nothing left
to have gone before us took guts
the blood on the page,
theirs,
the suns of Neruda
gripped in the fist
of moderns,
our fingers still fleshed
at midnight
beating the hours back
because of them
I sit here and think about what
they’ve left behind
rolling hills of words
for feed
the sun-torn expanse
bleeding and spilling
into ours
dropping down from
them into us
our hearts’
excuse for laughter
for understanding failure
for victory against
the bullshit
I sit here and write into
the midnight hour
high on the words
of beautiful madmen
once so brilliant of eye.
Tonight’s a night for them,
while I stroke these keys
and reach out
across their oceans of
ink
all bravado aside
all my own bullshit
dropped away
sitting here behind
the machine
reaching with everything
I have
to be a speck of
dust shining
in their
skulls.

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About Jeff Stewart

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