The Fool

All he owns tied in that cloth
sticked and bundled over his shoulder, blind–
he refuses to see his path ending
because dreamers only look up, chasing
cloud forms and ignore gravity; the earth
pulling them close as they savor the sun.

If angels fear that molten sun
he will lift its spots, folded in his cloth
like souvenir stones, picked far from earth
in his dance with stars; a bright that leaves blind
anyone who dares look too close, chasing
that embered, smoking trail, deeply ending.

Not all drop-offs are endings,
if air allows his tread, as did the sun;
because all opens to a fool, chasing
what flies from his grasp, that motley flag cloth;
patterns floated on wind, dizzied and blind,
spun and blown until they rest on the earth.

I have walked the greening earth
with him, foreseen those trials that are ending,
told in finely-inked cards thrown for the blind.
He has shuffled and cut for the spread. Sun
covers him in the center of the cloth,
which means he can catch what he is chasing.

But what is he after, chasing
secrets until they stumble, sink to earth
exhausted, wrapped in watercolor cloth;
faint, transitory camouflage ending
and burned off by one who danced on the sun.
He carries light. It cannot leave him blind.

Truth this hard should leave us blind.
Only fools seek what is hidden, chasing
dark out of shadows and into the sun.
These are secret things, on heaven and earth.
To tell them all would be a poor ending;
a covenant broken with a torn cloth.

Blind by choosing, he skips above this earth,
chasing a rainbow that has no ending.
Sun can be shaded, but never covered by cloth.

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About Susan L Daniels

I am a firm believer that politics are personal, that faith is expressed through action, and that life is something that must be loved and lived authentically--or why bother with any of it?
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73 Responses to The Fool

  1. cfbrown (ΰ€•ΰ€΅ΰ€Ώ) says:

    this, I lost myself in the imagery and the unfolding story. Reading it was progressive poetry revealing it’s self. I liked this alot

    • Chris, thank you. It is a sestina, and I don’t know if I will ever attempt one of these again. I did have fun with the form. I got all dizzy and turned around writing it πŸ˜‰

  2. Trent Lewin says:

    All right. I don’t know if I agree with what happens to this character, but I do love him. This is sublime – and I dearly hate that word (by the way, I’m organizing a campaign to destroy the word “ephemeral” in addition to “melancholy”, but that’s beside the point). Although the poem is ephemeral isn’t it, so why would the word appear? I like the covenant line. I don’t know Susan, but I think you have something epic here, and I think you should polish it up and send it somewhere where it would get wider play. Epic.

    • Trent–thank you! If you can find me another four-syllable word that implies easily brushed off or blown away, I will be glad to ditch ephemeral. Not one of my fav words either. That aside, thank you. Difficult to make much happen in a form with rigid end lines like this sestina–but you have given me another direction to take. He should go somewhere other than where he ends up–still chasing. I will pretty this up and send to you after–to see if you like where he ends up.

      • Trent Lewin says:

        Would love to see it.

      • Trent Lewin says:

        Meaning to ask, and I know I am lazy for asking rather than looking it up, but what is a sestina? Often I get a little concerned that there are conventions and styles of writing that I should know about but don’t. It’s like music. I can’t play anything, but boy do I love music.

        Maybe your fellow here is the composer.

        • πŸ™‚ He should be…He came out of a poem I read by KB–based on a character in tarot (now, don’t run away screaming, I said based πŸ˜‰ ).

          A sestina is a self-torture designed by a poet, where you use the same six end words, arranged in 36 different lines, and wrap it all together with an envoi or tercet at the end using the same six words all over again. The Panda at RoS and Johnny Crabcakes started me in this direction, with their decision to abuse themselves by attempting to write these.

          • Trent Lewin says:

            Running away screaming is my specialty, lady.

            Okay, I have learned something. That people would do such things to themselves… Ashamed to say that I did not notice the words recurring in that manner, but possibly felt their arrangement. Something caught me on this one, perhaps that’s it… but I more think it was the character.

            Now Susan, it’s highly rude to throw out words like “envoi” or “tercet” at this time of night. What am I, a dictionary? And on that note, what is a Johnny Crabcake? It sounds like a maritime porta-potty. And who in their right mind would call themselves The Panda? They’re endangered!

            • LOL, that would be Mike at “Rule of Stupid” on here, and JCC is John over at Johnnycrabcakes (which to me sounds yummy in a dark, cannibalistic way). A tercet is a 3-line stanza, and an envoi is just a fancy way of saying “the close of the poem.” Sorry, Trent. I have been buried in sestina-land so long, the terminology has burned into my frontal cortex.

              • Trent Lewin says:

                Burning brain is irrelevant. Give the Fool his due.

                I never pegged you for a cannibal, but I’m cool with that. If you ever come over for dinner, I make the menu.

                Good night, strange lady.

  3. unfetteredbs says:

    I love that you challenge yourself and that you do it so well Susan. my favorite line :that embered, smoking trail, deeply ending

  4. Sun can be shaded, but never hidden by cloth. Great line, Susan. A very beautiful story

  5. nelle says:

    Such an epic work and an interesting journey in words.

    We have this gene what makes us yearn after secrets. No one ever laid down the rules of curiosity, although legends claim such, with harsh smackdowns for the peek.

    Boundaries are of our imaginations. In my world, a seagull can fly to its perceived boundary and push on through. And I think… so can I.

  6. Bruce Ruston says:

    really great imagery Susan enjoyed it

  7. I don’t know Susan, I rather like this fellow–grown rather fond of him. See a lot of him in myself. His journey, his travels, how he travels (on the Sun!), what he sees with his blind eyes full of wonder mean far more than where he ends up. But how does he end up? Purpose? Who says the universe or any thing is supposed to have a “purpose”?
    Q. What’s the point?
    A. Finding the point.
    He is a character of wonder and power for me. I see a strong metaphor for the journey of poetry here.
    Maybe it’s just that one word, “muddled”. As I see it, he may be blind, but more clear-eyed than most.
    This came out beautifully.

    • Jeremy got me thinking of Cohen, and I’ve been thinking a lot about this line, so here:

      β€œPoetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.” ~ Leonard Cohen

    • Johnny–thank you! I do like this guy. He is based on The Fool of the tarot deck:

      Here’s his story:

      Basic Tarot Story

      With all his worldly possessions in one small pack, the Fool travels he knows not where. So filled with visions, questions, wonder and excitement is he, that he doesn’t see the cliff he is likely to fall over. At his heel a small dog harries him (or tries to warn him of a possible mis-step). Will the Fool learn to pay attention to where he’s going before it’s too late?

      Basic Tarot Meaning

      At #0 (or, in some decks, #22, the last card as much as the first of the Majors) the Fool is the card of infinite possibilities. The bag on the staff indicates that he has all he needs to do or be anything he wants, he has only to stop and unpack. He is on his way to a brand new beginning.

      But the card carries a little bark of warning as well. While it’s wonderful to be enthralled with all around you, excited by all life has to offer, you still need to watch your step, lest you fall and end up looking the fool. Quoted directly from: http://www.aeclectic.net/tarot/learn/meanings/fool.shtml

      He definitely sounds like a poet to me.

  8. Pingback: Quote — Watts and Oliver | A Prayer Like Gravity

  9. claudia says:

    i think there are some things we can learn from people like him.. of course always shadow and light as well..but still…smiles

  10. Susan, You have met the challenge of the sestina wonderfully! I was not even consciously aware of the repetition of the ending words, which I believe ought to be the hope of every sestina. But subconsciously the poem flowed in such a wonderful way because of the repetition. Peace, Linda

  11. brian miller says:

    truth is hard should leave us blind…that line jumped out at me…there is a slim difference between a dreamer and a fool….one we often dance that reach for the clouds…and those that chase it til it lies exhausted on the ground…well i think i might be able to learn from them…smiles.

  12. tashtoo says:

    One of my favorite card of the tarot…as he is also one of my scariest! Think you’ve portrayed him wonderfully with your words…the possibilities, the hazards, the hindrances…fantastic and much enjoyed.

  13. Mary says:

    I love that dreamers always look up, as they don’t see their path ending. So true, I think, but I don’t mind this about dreamers…..not a bad thing to savor the sun! Smiles!

  14. janehewey says:

    The Fool. “not all drop-offs are endings” I think you do the essence of the card’s message complete justice. I know the feeling of wanting to look into the sun until I can no longer see.

  15. Miriam E. says:

    YES! i so hoped you would post this for OLN and you did… πŸ˜€ awesome, i love it. we’re the ‘sestina-sisters’! *secret handshake followed by a strong drink to calm stressed-out nerves* πŸ˜‰

  16. ayala says:

    Great imagery, great write.

  17. Such strong imagery for me here. Very well done. “Not all drop offs are endings” <- great line.

  18. shanyns says:

    So much here to like, over all a 100% pleasure to read!

  19. Kelvin S.M. says:

    …like Miriam, you too have offered a great envoy… but i find yours a bit tighter than her which she did in light, singing tone…. yours was quite free in emotion and form… not binding to the strict metre…. very well penned Sestina… smiles…

  20. wonderful poem. Get and grips ypour attention till you come to the end.
    some lines are unforgetable

    blind–he refuses to see his path’s ending
    because dreamers only look up,

    in his dance with stars;

    Not all drop-offs are endings,

    I have walked the greening earth with him,

    But what is he after, chasing secrets until they stumble,

    Truth this hard should leave us blind.
    Only fools seek what is hidden,

    chasing a dream that is never-ending.
    Sun can be shaded, but never hidden by cloth.

    Susan weaves words and her poetry traps and holds lovingly in then even after we have stopped reading!

    • Noel, thank you so much! I enjoyed the subject, but I am fairly certain I will not attempt another sestina in a long, long time. It is quite the poetic self-torture to write, but when done, there is definitely a sense of pride in completion–not necessarily in the work itself, but surviving it πŸ˜‰

  21. Lindy Lee says:

    If you think a sestina gives you miseries, try a villanelle. That one will really drive you to distraction. For a perfect example see Dylan Thomas’ “Do not go gentle…”

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