Ulysses of Astoria
It profits little that I leave my shovel
in the shed to rust unburnished
like a sword no longer swung
in drunk delight of battle.
Nor will my own gray mettle
rest content in idleness—these aged arms
deserve some work of noble consequence.
With all the sinewed strength
of former days, I yearn to follow
snowflakes sinking from the storied dome
across the margin of our tidy lawn
to drift upon the sidewalk. Though,
in winters past, much has been cleared,
much accumulates this stormy morn.
Dear Queen, if I, made rude by time and fate,
do not return with all my savage strength
in time for lunch, send out my valiant son
to search for me within the prudent bounds
of curb and fence, or somewhere in the driveway.
And if I stretch, inert and prone in ancient fashion
of a felled commander on the plains of Troy,
my face inclined toward Pluto
and the chthonic depths, you shall know
I am not merely dormant like the sturdy oak,
to bud again in spring or thrust my limbs
with fearless reach into the great periphery
of open, unexamined sky.
Know, then, this stented heart,
which fought with Agamemnon
Papandreou and the great Achilles
Lymberopoulos upon the windy fields
of William Cullen Bryant High, alas,
has fallen victim to these snowy regiments.
No searing heart of human labor, then,
shall melt the icy blanket forming on my back.
Call Charon, dour undertaker from the Styx,
and bid him bring me to the Happy Isles,
to join the heroes of great ages past.
When I am gone, remember this—
the combination to our safe deposit box
is written on a yellow Post-it
stuck to fortune's lofty wings
beyond the golden sunset
that ignites the broad, dark seas.