It begins with a  QUOTE...

Jane Kenyon's poem, "Pharaoh." which serves as our inspiration for this prompt-  begins with a quote.
This one from the unpoetic but very quotable Yogi Berra. An unlikely source of inspiration for a meditation on mortality and pharoah-like attempts at immortality.
Select a quote as the opening line of your poem. Need some help with quotes - try Bartlett's Quotations Online or this quotes by categories site.

After the Age of Madness

"None of them knew the color of the sky,"
I whispered, remembering the anxiety
of being a kid, confused, lost,
sitting in English classes--and waiting
for the bells to ring; signaling the end
of a long day, the beginning of another

He would not remember the tears, the screams,
the man who stood above him, high amongst
a sky, shoveling eternity in a rainy day.

In the alleys of the city, years drip away
and fall into puddles reflecting neon, shadows,
women running behind men running...

I shoveled slabs of mud into the grave.
A tiny casket--lucrative business, I'd told
my wife the night before; while she took her pills
and starred at her depleted beauty in the mirror.
He shoveled with me now, the sun was settling
the need to fill this empty misconception.
It didn't take much to cover up the boy;
It didn't take much...

A drizzle fell on our faces--the sky was black.
I heard my wife sigh to a pleasant dream
and I climbed into bed, aching, keeping quiet,
lest I should wake her to a dark sky outside.
I saw my mother pointing, with an elongated finger,
towards the west, and the sky glowed orange,
she said, "that way."
I shoveled slabs of mud into an empty grave.


Typical Teenage Kids

"It is tragic and disgusting when the lives of children are taken"
Brian Warner

Put out the light and then put out the light
over and again
till finally done, fifteen times...
so you were outcast in life,
aren't we all?
You weren't satisfied with ordinary
so you were outcast in life, aren't we all
so now you are cursed to be outcast
forever in death
and the innocents,
innocents lost
to them i say
may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest


    Old Friends

"Why,"   he looks at me, his
voice stopping.
We have both rehearsed the
next line.   "do I always pick
these kinds of lovers?" We
pause, after all friends consider
before they speak. "You know
why," I say. "No" he says. This
conversation will trail off  and
end precisely where the road
forks and the choice will be
mine or his, depending on
which of us speaks last. Old
friends, shoulders supporting
the stories between us. Standing
face to face, each year finds us
bent a little more toward
each other. I reach for his
hand, a small move to counter
gravity. "Find yourself first,
then the right lover will find
you." I am echoing words
he has spoken to me. Our
friendship has become a circle
whose boundary we keep
tightly between us. We pace
around its rim time and time
again until his footsteps are
indistinguishable from my own.



"Never mistake motion for action." Ernest Hemingway

I set aside the third Wednesday of July
this year, marked it on the calendar.
I'm not sure how to celebrate,
if celebrate is even the right word.
And the right word is important.

I hope the day is bright and clear,
a breeze coming from the trees
into our faces, the sun low enough
to give relief to the landscape,
not high enough to block our vision.

I shall read a story that morning
with my coffee at the table outside.
One story in one sitting and then
carry the cup and book inside
and set them in their places.

I will cut an apple with my pocketknife
for lunch and have a cold glass of wine.
The newspaper will suffice for reading
though the news will not hold me
long enough to brown even one slice.

A long walk in the afternoon along
the stream observing the hatch
at the edge and watching carefully
for anything in the deep pool
to rise up into my recognition.

Dinner alone at a place I never go to
anymore. The help has changed and no one
knows me now, so I can sit over coffee and write
what I have to say and not say a word to anyone.
I can stay until closing and then I can walk home
the long way that takes me into morning.



Change of Heart

I was afraid of dying”
of being no more
a part of family and friends
who wrote laughter
and tears
on my page,
but friends leave,
and I’ve seen old’s
empty eyes,
a freedom
without value.
I am afraid of living
too long.


The first two lines are taken from James Wright’s “I Was Afraid of Dying.”




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