The Marquis of Sad
Freedom is melancholy; melancholy, freedom.
At least, that’s what the weird sisters told me.
Once spoken, every word is true, even
all the words yoked to great chains of lies.
I never go down to the river for fear
of finding myself on the opposite bank,
not knowing how I came to be there,
miles from any crossing. But I can hear it.
I can hear the rocks suffering the rapids,
the teeming foam of my mind searching for
the tarn of Auber. It’s always in the first
place you look, always in the very last line.
If I say my heart is heavy, it’s because
my heart dowses water; the hidden spring
tugs at it like an impatient child. Now?
it asks. Now? Then when? When? Are we there yet?
The Knight always stands in stark contrast
to Melencolia: his action & resolve opposed
to her pensive, passive hours, but look again
to his face beneath his helm. Look at his eyes.
He already feels the dragon’s neck beneath
his boot heel & he’s sorry to have ever heard
of damsels, princesses, sacrifices.
Look again at her face: the look of one who
goes to war knowing there is no victory,
only survival. Those who live to fight
another day know the days are endless…
days upon days, forever armed to the teeth.
I know that the person who uses the word
escapist as a pejorative is most likely
a jailer. A cow caught running in the street
ahead of its slaughter date was returned
to the butcher who declined to kill it,
turning it over to a sanctuary
where no one is eaten by anything but
time. Once in a while, the universe is so
magnanimous that it breaks your heart in two.
It comes back to you, this story, whenever
you fire up the grill to the sound of your
empty stomach, the coals aching with red.
Here in the Bastille of Monday morning,
Sunday morning comes down with a fever,
dying for lack of water, a word of kindness.
From the cell of the warden’s office, I rejoice.
When the rabble tear this week down, brick by brick,
this is what I will miss the most: the quiet
hour where I sign, with a flourish, another
letter of resignation that no one will accept.
Everybody dies alone & that is beautiful.
Of course, it sounds funny when you sing it.
There are some gestures that can only be seen,
never felt. Unless you make them yourself.
Noblesse oblige requires me to tell you this.
Now, please, let me eat my cake (here’s a slice for you).
Summer doesn’t care about elections.
The moon, she is full, with no more fucks to give.
All this death another sticky note: Live!
Every moment is a course correction;
we have overcorrected. Connections
without connecting. No time to relive
the ravenous instant, the open sieve.
The breeze, she never makes any objections.
I’m gonna take off my shoes, climb a tree,
& learn to play the flute. The grass is dying
to be crushed under you. The stars unseen
would give their last light to be in Arcadia,
too. There’s a suit of heat rising to clothe you
in sky blue, in dark clouds of thunderous now,
threatening from an unimaginable height.
Imagine it. The bee buzzing in your blood.
The longest longing day, stretching out to meet
your shadow amidst the shadows of the flood.
Gregory Crosby is the author of the chapbooks Spooky Action at a Distance (The Operating System, 2014) and The Book of Thirteen (Yes Poetry, 2016). He teaches creative writing in the College Now program at Lehman College.