A folksinger, musician, writer, storyteller, and performing artist, Dan Layman-Kennedy is capable of many methods of expression. His performance style is self assured, with his low, calm voice lifting effortlessly out to his audience. One cannot help but listen to the beauty and intricacy of his words.
A scholar and professor, greatly loved,
A foreign man, gray-bearded, in who's eyes
Shone intellect and joy and love of life.
I met him only briefly, spoke few words;
I smiled and was warm, but soon moved on.
My mind had plans and business elsewhere then.
Not one bare year from then, nor far from there,
And underneath a still library's roof
A student, young, but no less mad for that,
Walked in and, giving license to his rage,
Fired a gun into that sanctuary's calm.
This man, this teacher, kind and gentle soul,
Was there, and caught a bullet, and went down.
I knew him briefly, hardly any time,
A few spare moments and a gentle smile,
A word or two in his uncertain lilt,
A handshake's time to savor, know his warmth.
When introduced to him I did not know
He was almost a specter even then.
I never knew him well enough to grieve
Or do him any justice if I tried
To grace him with the briefest epithaph;
My friend who shed brave tears could tell you more.
But I can only shake my head and frown
And offer what condolences I can.
The truth that I must grapple with is this:
However long or brief my book of years,
A man I met once can never be
More than a footnote in that chronicle;
Had I but known, I might have turned around
And looked at him a moment or two more,
If but to see the shadow that at length
Crept up to him and opened up its wings,
So that I might know better when they come
Those soft foot-falls that still are strange to me.
Wasps, Which Do Not Love Their Dead
Come round; and heedless of the corpses of their kind
Which I have left on windowsills, as warnings
Make so bold as to share my space. What use they have
For the places that I make my home I cannot tell;
These airborne alien things, lean and vicious,
Somehow find some comfort in like things as me,
In common corners, common spaces, common light,
In the sudden heat of spring.
But the world's big, and the woods are wide,
And their interest in my quarters baffles me.
We do not get along, my rommates and I;
They startle me with lurking in doorways,
Their aimless busyness intrudes, and their relentless wheeling.
And they make me cower like a child.
Their ways are not my ways;
They and I are at odds in philosophy,
And I confess I kill them when I can.
It's all one to them, it seems,
And still they come round, not in vengance or remorse,
Just mindlessly at work.
Wasps are heedless of their dead.
Their interest in my spaces baffles me.
The End of Days
We stand here at the end of days
We stand here, our little company
In the purple twilight
In the mist
We stand here, tired and teary-eyed
To sing our parting songs
We have come to this shore
Across strange lands
Through long and sometimes dark or merry nights
Taking the moonlit roads
And the strange and secret paths
And we are weary, who have come this way
To only start our journey on this night
This chilly night
This sad and quiet night at the end of days
We heard long since the call,the call to go
To all who knew to hear
The call to shut the doors and lock the rooms
And weep if we could, embrace and say farewell
And set off in the morning, through the mist
Down the long road to melancholy
We knew well enough
To settle the affairs and part
To lay down arms and make our peace
With the turmoil and the ravagers
The brutal and the doomed
The ones who dream in chrimson and in black
We knew to turn away from them and go
And leave behind the trappings
The promise of a red and naked reckoning
The gruesom and the uncouth instruments
There would be no more use for them at all
We have come to this shore, we who have come
And shivered in the forest
Wept through our laughter
We have come because we knew
We who have learned to think in mirrors
We knew the meaning of the pipes and bells
the mad and frantic laughter
that howled into the yawning night
We have been acquainted with grotesqueries
And walked with them in starlight, in the mist
We knew we need not be afraid
We had visited the tombs and labyrinths
The places where the doomed and useless go
We knew the shadows
And the formless things
Had breakfasted among the monoliths
We knew the language of the nebulous and damned
We had already known the roads to take
The twilight ways
The unknown and untraveled secret paths
Across the wastes
Across the wilderness
Although we had not followed them before
IV. We have fit a ship to sail
From this, the end of days
Across the mist
Through a shroud of tears
And we will sail
From the melancholy evening
As the last of all things
Stand to speak the epilogue
We will not hear the apology
We will not wave good-bye
As we set out
We will not turn our heads
To watch it fall
This collection was posted here in April 2000.
"Acquaintance", "Wasps, Which Do Not Love Their Dead", and "The End of Days" are taken from The End of Days and Others, by Dan O'Kennedy (Dan Layman-Kennedy).
To see poetry, lyrics, fiction & more by Dan Layman-Kennedy, go tohttp://users.starpower.net/otterinmotley.
All poetry and other artistic writings are © their authors and reproduced here with their permission.
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