"The Vikings"

Under a gold and crimson sky
The winter laughs her icy chill at us.
   But we (testimonial silhouettes) are undaunted.
We cannot be intimidated.
   We are the men.
     We are the surviving warriors.

The graveyard ritual is uninterrupted
   As winter escalates the ridiculing assault.
Let the cold November wind chill our bones.
   Our hearts have already been iced and
Each of imagines we have the last laugh.

My father buries his father's bones today.
My father lays to rest his father's resentments -
   But not his own.
Grandfather is buried today -
   Another good man returned to dust.
One final charade: Loosen the mask of reverence
                           Allow a few tears to fall.

Tears of grief?
  Or is that relief?
    (It is likely nothing at all).

Standing at the edge of the grave,
We are at the edge of eternity.
There is no end to a father's love.
And what we inherit from our fathers,
   We bequeath to our sons.
And what a father cannot carry to his grave,
  Is a burden he passes on.
Grandfather is buried today.
And we all move up in rank.

No grave is deep enough for a father.
   No amount of dirt can cover the sins of the father.
All the tears of the world cannot quench the thirst
And devouring the hearts of all the daughters of Eve cannot satisfy the hunger.

All the eyes in all the world could never be enough attention.
And the sons attempt in vain to fill the void.
While the father goes joyfully to his grave.
   We can engrave our father's headstone,
     But we have never engraved the granite heart of the father.
And the father goes joyfully to the grave.
Free at last!
He leaves his son to bury his own son
Beneath those perpetual patrilineal inheritances.

Under a gold and crimson sky
Winter laughs all around us in a true last laugh.
Grandfather is buried.
   He does not feel the cold.
     He is dead!
We are the ones who are left cold.
  We all feel we have the last laugh.
But we are the ones buried alive.
Interred beneath those circles we keep intact -
             For posterity's sake.
Our patrilineal inheritances.

The surrealistic dream of life continues
As we die in rhythm with each tick of the clock.
Grandfather is buried today but
   It is our own burial we live for.
And every night we go to bed and close our eyelids
Like coffin lids over eyes which do not really see
Yet which have seen so much.

I pray that I should have the strength
To disinherit my own son.
And that he should know God's face,
Instead of the back of His head like I did.

written in 1974 in New York City
1999 poetheart

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