Category Archives: Poetry

Kain: Upon His Return to Baron Castle

Note:  I based this on the events from Final Fantasy IV, which for years intrigued me by by its plots and characters.  However, many years after I wrote this, a sequel to this game was released.  While I haven’t played it yet, I do understand that the events that I depict in this poem contradict the ones in the game.

The dawn, in sudden burst of red, as though
The thin layer of clouds, now bleeding o’er
The morning, swallows up the single moon.
The sun, in his great brightness does expel
The Queen of Night, and she, without dispute,
Is gone.  The morning dance is at its end;
The lonely moon makes way for day.
’Twas once a time, a time that I recall,
When Queen did have a King to stand
Beside her in the night.  They watched, a pair
Of eyes, but one has now been pluckèd out.

’Twas thirty years now passed, yet every night
I look upon our single moon, remember
Better that, those days long passed, than what
Occurred just yesterday.  Oh, will I not
Now shake this ghost and shed it off my skin?
But no, I’ll not forget the saddened eyes
Of Cecil when I turned my spear at him,
My greatest friend.  And better still the look
He gave while setting my rebellion down.

The cold remaining moon does watch me as
A cursèd eye to e’er remind me, night
To night, of all I did so long ago –
A summer month a score and half again
In years now passed.  But though the moon won’t
Forgive, perhaps, in Baron, Cecil will.

The cloud upon the cave of mist remains,
And yet the beasts within have long been slain.
’Tis now an active road from Baron, north,
And many men in every hour will come
And travel to or from the town of Mist,
Just past the other mouth.  But none will think
Of what had once resided ’tween these walls,
And none can know, while passing through this mist,
About the man who lives upon their path.
I sometimes watch them, ever out of sight,
And wonder if they’ve heard the tales before,
Of how that path did two men walk, that path
That changed the world in time, and for the good.
And if they have, I wonder still of what
They say of he, the second of the pair,
The hero unheroic, uncontrolled.
But yes, the days have trapped me in the mist,
The cloud has hidden me within its wall
Of white – a cloak that rides upon my skin.
And in that cloak I cower, hiding from
The men who travel through this soggy cave.
The days I sleep within this house and in
The evenings climb atop the mountains, look
Across the open plains to Baron.  Her lights
do shine to even here.  And at that spot
I’ll stand ’til dawn, and then retreat again.
When I was thirty years more young, I thought
That such a life would help me gain control.

No, let me lie no longer to myself:
Not even then did I believe that I
Am here to learn control myself again,
For what had once controlled me now is gone.

I live within this cave to flee from him:
It’s Cecil’s gaze I feat to bear again.
’Twas in this mist my mind was last my own,
And here my soul was last untouched by soot
Of sin against the innocent and good.
For after this was I the vessel in which
Was sent destruction.  With that message brought,
My will was battered, pained by screams of scores
Of people, burnèd by the bomb which I
Had so unknowingly brought.  That one remained –
The green-haired girl with power thrice her size –
The ghost of Justice sent upon its foes.
She called upon her beasts, all magically brought,
To slay the cold assassins.  To have died
At that, for I had so much farther to fall.

The battle ended sooner than begun,
And I was thrown against the rocks and left,
Assumed for dead, perhaps not unwisely.
My body broken, shattered, my armor bent,
My mind was weakened, my spirit low.

So weak – so easily was I controlled.
So easily, in shame do I admit it.
But beaten once in body, I was then
Too quickly overcome in mind as well.
There once again did magic pummel me.
There once again was I proven weak.

My years of training had been long and hard,
And I excelled myself above my peers,
The shining example of what Dragoons should be.
I thought, by skill and strength unmatched, that I
Could not be bested in the field of battle.
How foolish was I proved, for just a word
Of magic turned my thoughts against my friends.
How weak had all my training made me then.
The power of Golbez curdled my spirit sour,
And in so doing tacked these puppet strings
Upon my limbs and made me dance, dance.
When first I fought ’gainst Cecil, there I thought,
It is not I who strives against him now,
But Golbez through me speaks.  But no.  It was
His hand upon my head, but still ’twas I
Who did the evil deed.  I twice betrayed.

’Fore long I shook the spell, and Golbez too
(For in it all, he also had been overcome).
At last I joined with the line, my friends,
To stand beside them, not betray them ’gain.
Yes, I was there, an ally of the light,
Upon the second moon in battle ’gainst
The evil that did dwell beneath the ground.
Good Cecil once forgave me there, but I
Would not accept, and once returned I fled.
I pray his love for me does linger still.

I wandered long, through fields and over seas,
And came upon the place where Cecil shed
His dark shadow and put upon himself
The cloak of Holy Knight, and so the same
I sought unto myself on Mount Ordeals.
Alas! I never even saw the shrine
That stands atop the peak.  Those forces there
Who stand undead, o’erwhelmed me, sent me running.
They rose from out the dirt, the acrid stench
Burning in my nose, the rhythmic clanks
Of rattling bones so fell upon my ears,
And so I quaked.  I fought the creatures off,
But not for long.  They formed in lines, the ghouls
Stood there and zombies there, then all the men
Of bones in front, and all advanced with groans
And screeches torn upon my ears from death.
I wept in fear and pressed no more.  I fled.

I fled, and came again into the mist.
’Twas in this cave I last was proved of worth.
The last of all my life that vict’ry found.
I have become a soldier ’out a land,
And it was here that all my world did fall.

Can I this day reclaim what here was lost?
Perhaps these thirty years be far too long
A time to turn at last upon my path
And know I went too far.  I long returned
To here, the place that last I lived, but here
Is not enough!  And even though I step
Upon the very dirt I carelessly crossed
Three decades back, I do not feel the same.
So thus I walk now back, and thus emerge
In morning from my home, as a ghost appear
From out the mist, but is not crumbled by
The light of sudden dawn, but is welcomed by it.
The sun does fuel my steps, and as I go
I look and almost see my footprints in
The dirt, now agèd counted moons and turned
The other way.  I step against those prints
And onto Baron, rising ’fore the dawn.

Strawberries

I never miss her when I hear her name,
or when I see her walking ’round our work,
or when I hear her laugh — ’tis all the same,

I hardly even notice anymore —
I only feel it slightly when she smiles.
The dreams have even stopped, they’ve grown so bored

of her — it really only took a while.
So now have I discovered I am free.
Yes, seeing her no longer is a trial.

But then the scent of strawberries touches me,
as though it rose from off her hair to sip
the air around, and brings the memories

all back. So all security then slips.
It tastes like powdered sugar on my lips.

 

© Copyright 2002 by Paul Lytle. All rights reserved.

From Perfect Worlds

Generally, my poems seem to fit into two categories — long poems, usually dramatic monologues, and sonnets. I usually have a lot to say, and I love the challenge of saying everything in fourteen lines.

Sonnets are best as love poems, and mine are no exception. This particular sonnet style is a newer form that is a combination of terza rima (which Dante used) and the traditional sonnet. It creates a wonderful sound that swirls around itself. This particular one has a sadder ending than most of my sonnets, but it is no less a love sonnet, even if love is unrequited.


 

I waited days to see you sitting there —
The strands of black as fallen lightly o’er
Your cheek, inviting neck (but blocked by hair).

It’s just like dreams I’ve dreamèd just before
The morning light does drag me then away
From perfect worlds I never wish be torn.

Impression seen and play’d in those long days
I spend without a sight of you in view,
And all my thoughts and then my heart betray.

But what to do but sit and stare at you?
For I cannot my hopes and dreams now heed,
But though my heart will push my mind says no —

For as I watch a perfect world repeat,
You watch another man instead of me.

© Copyright 2002 by Paul Lytle. All rights reserved.

Streetlight

One of my favorite poems, inspired by the strange but luring style of T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”

At the corner under the warm streetlight,
Under the dark sky made so bright
By the lamp on that corner,
Between the streets that border that scene —
Trapping me inside
With the sidewalk and yard’s grass —
I wait:
Wait until the last
For you to come and meet me
By that lamp on that street.

The expected time arrives, now gone.
All that time expecting you’d come.

Why was it such a surprise
After all the lies transpired between,
After all the days we’ve seen?
Those days repeat and reappear —
They drone on into weeks and years,
And days bring shades of black and white,
And right and wrong.
(Was I the wrong one all along?)

All the regrets I now feel
For a perfect Love you choose repeal.
We’ll wait a wait for a better day —
A way to finally escape from us,
A way to finally flee from Love.

The street lamp burns and steals the night
By lighting the dark and drowning the stars,
With great might pushing them away
To create an eternal day on that street corner,
Even through days and weeks and nights between.

I see I’ve waited far too long now,
On this night you won’t arrive
To join me under this streetlight.
(I never really thought you would.)
But still I wait and do not stray
From my place by the bright street lamp,
O’er hours and hours and passing days.

© Copyright 2002 by Paul Lytle. All rights reserved.

At Roxana’s Wedding

Cyrano de Bergerac made a very big impression on me, and has been an influence ever since I first read it.  This poem shows that influence most directly.

I

I seek a sound that’s fragrance lanced,
And word not one is out of place.
But they are said by else’s face —
That part of me has been replaced,
And I may just compose.
Instead the voice is deep and strong —
A worthy one to sing the song.
His shoulders wide and features long,
Except his normal nose.

She seeks a man of poet’s mind,
But also strength she wishes find,
To hear her beauty said in line,
And handsome man to write the rhyme.
Yet I can but compose.
And so I sat in sad remorse
With words to say but lacking force,
For line is wasted when its source
Is ’neath a giant nose.

And so my wit is lent away
To he who all the sports can play,
Whose mind has not a thought to say.
Without a single kiss repay,
There I will but compose.
Yes, he is handsome, fit and trim,
And women will again, again,
They one by one will go to him,
And from this horrid nose.

Perhaps we two together might,
With words to make her heart delight
And body of unquestioned might,
Perhaps we’d be the man she’d like.
And so I did compose.
But one, not two, may there succeed —
The one Roxana looks and sees,
The mouth that speaks the lines she needs,
And not the hidden nose.

II

The two form one is two once more,
The man created now is torn,
But in his death a husband born —
The voice not needed as before.
And I need not compose.
So there they stand before the Priest,
The focus of a wedding feast.
And I in back — the ugly beast
With far too large a nose.

They say the vows, repeating fast
How there forever love will last.
Oh, how I pray this feeling pass
From me then to my voice and mask
For whom this love composed.
Perhaps, in future I will find
That marriage may not always bind.
But what could happen in this time?
For only God this knows.

’Tis foolish, yes, those hopeful thoughts,
As though I even really fought.
He’s not the man Roxana sought.
Those words he said were those I taught
In all that I composed.
Those lines she read and then did hear
Were from my mouth and to his ear,
And then I seemed to disappear,
And with me left this nose.

In hidden shadows, with my tongue,
With words as true as church bells rung,
’Twas there and then romance begun.
And ne’er before had he so sung
As with my lines composed.
Before my eyes they met and kissed,
And in that touch were both in bliss.
But not a word of mine was missed,
And nor my cursèd nose.

III

So I am left with only words,
But never more will they be heard.
This man ’out I seems so absurd,
But where I stopped is growing blurred.
I can no more compose.
The half of man that I once made
Is left there speaking in the shade.
Oh, but the words, they slowly fade,
Left hidden by a nose.