from the archives – some Prince memorial poems from NaPoWriMo16

April 23, 2016

When I heard the learn’d oceanographer
(it was Earth Day, and our shining Prince had fallen),
When the volume, velocity and variability
of data-rich information overwhelmed the deep,
When I examined the core skills of data management
(data is just an artifact, a document, an antelope),
When I listened to it, the oceanographer’s lecture
excited our minds, with much applause from the librarians;

After the talk we walked to Brookland, the full moon
overhead brightly illuminating a city in mourning, darkened
by uncertainty (our Prince had fallen like the rain),
And approaching Foggy Bottom, I caught a faint whiff
of the swamp beneath us, the sound of the river beyond
slowly turning, emptying into the sea.


April 24, 2016

Let’s be clear.
The winners want this world
to be the only one.
They don’t need a heaven,
a nirvana, a promised land,
a garden with black-eyed virgins
after martyrdom. 

The winners want this world
to last forever and a day,
no disruption, no inherent degradation
in the plan/to the plan that keeps them
in charge, the religion that justifies,
the philosophy that rationalizes,
the mathematics that computes
their equations. 

Let’s be clear, again.
At length, soon or late,
things unravel. Entropy rules,
permanence becomes impermanent,
time folds back on itself,
like Prince says, his music
for the future written in the past
and stored in a vault – a chess game
that anybody can learn to play and win.


April 27, 2016

They say Prince enjoyed a good fado
and even traveled to Lisbon,
now and then, to bathe
in its mysterious, noble sound: 

a music of sailors on long voyages
to unknown, distant places
far from their home country –
of women selling fish
down the winding streets
of Mouraria and Alfama,
singing prayer songs
for their lovers’ safe returns,
wailing blues songs
for a love forever lost.

Fado’s essence is its poetry –
the music follows, sets the stage,
and Prince was ok with that,
at least he played his guitar like he was.

From the words, the sounds emit,
and from the sounds, the music soon escapes –
a fleeting moment, pure, distilled.
And Prince soon slipped Earth’s surly bonds
and just as quickly scaled eternity.


Author: Raymond Maxwell Librarian, archivist, retired foreign service officer and Navy veteran.

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