Jack D. Harvey

Riddle Me A Riddle

 Who is Athena's owl to
 solve the unsolvable problem?
 To crack the
 unspeakable code
 with his beak?
 Who is the intelligent?
 Who is the secular ivy
 climbing the walls of monasteries,
 creeping green up the columns
 of pagan temples?
 Where the spirit of
 Phidias, of Augustine ends,
 there the permanence, the
 seemly beauty, immovable,
 of stone.

 In the great American west,
 inside the bunkhouse
 the dancing fiddler plays
 Mozart's music backwards
 to its original
 pure and simple shell;
 easy as pie for his
 expert supple hands
 and fingers.
 His audience loves the mystery
 of his skill
 more than the music;

 that is all right.

 John the Baptist,
 pure and simple,
 lost his head;
 mother and daughter wanted it
 sitting on a plate
 and they got it
 and while it sat,
 we saw,
 as in a dream,
 the walls, the bulwarks
 of his magnitude fall away,
 saw his power evade us and
 surround us, like the air.

 John, waiting on the one to come,
 the Savior, the solver
 of the only certain problem,
 Himself a solution seeming
 clear as the stars above
 and as remote, though
 He walked among us.

 Did He save and solve
 or only create faraway
 white escarpments, holy
 places of refuge
 we can never reach?
 We see
 His violet brow
 coming across the water
 of the Sea of Galilee,
 we see His agony
 on the cross,
 we know from the bible
 some few details
 of His life;
 in the simple and elegant
 flow of parables and miracles
 we discern His truth, but
 do we know from Him
 any more than we know
 from the dancing fiddler?

 Our ardently desired solution
 to the mystery,
 our trials, our travails,
 no more, no less than
 too much time on our hands,
 too much useless rind
 in our heads, so
 we can't find our way
 to the simple world
 where there is no owl
 and no problem.

 Only the sweet music
 of the fiddler filling
 our brief days until
 he, too, plunges
 in the shadowy ocean

 and that is enough.

Jack D. Harvey’s poetry has appeared in Scrivener,  Mind In Motion, The Comstock Review, The Antioch Review, Bay Area Poets’ Coalition, The University of Texas Review, The Beloit Poetry Journal and a number of other on-line and in print poetry magazines over the years, many of which are probably kaput by now, given the high mortality rate of poetry magazines.  

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