.

Sleep

Now the hour has come to lay me down
Upon the waters of the river Lethe,
To float into the maelstrom and to drown
In swirling waves above me and beneath me.

Who can recount those dark, forgotten hours
When, having drunk the cup of Morpheus dry,
We pass from daylight’s realm, through gloomy bowers,
To secret worlds hid from the wakeful eye?

Who can recall that wild, nocturnal ride
In sleep’s swift chariot, charging out of sight
Through deep oblivion’s blackest countryside,
Lit up by sudden flashes in the night?

Or who can call to mind that stormy sea
Of dreams, that through the long night hours we sail?
What ghostly hand is at the helm, as we
Like drunken sailors, slumber through the gale?

How strange to come up from that netherworld,
Arising, like the dawn, all fresh and new,
But with a curtain in our minds, unfurled
To hide the scenes of night from memory’s view.

Yet stranger still will be that final day
When, waking from the deeper sleep of death,
The curtain will be lifted to display
The scenes we played before our final breath.

Upon that day, our life on earth will seem
More fleeting than the hours of night seem now,
When, having wakened from a passing dream,
We wonder that it seemed so long, somehow.

Then shall each one receive according to
The deeds done in the body while on earth;
And some shall wake with joy, and some shall rue
Eternally the day that gave them birth.

And those who fall asleep in Him who spent
Three days, ere waking, sealed in death’s repose,
Shall likewise rest till night’s dark veil is rent,
Then blossom in the morning like the rose!

.

.

Where Do All the Moments Go?

“Where do all the moments go, when once they leave our grasp?
They seemed so real just yesterday! They surely must be near,
Beyond the door, around the bend, not very far from here.
I feel like I could touch them still; I sense them standing by;
I see them shining out of reach, like rainbows in the sky.
Oh, how I would their fleeting beauties to my bosom clasp!

Where do the aromas roam when once they waft away?
The scent of cooling cornbread from the oven, freshly baked,
Of sweet vanilla icing on a homemade birthday cake,
The summer scent of fresh mown grass strewn limply on the lawn,
Or pancakes sizzling on the griddle when I’d wake at dawn?
Oh, where do odors go when time’s wind blows at end of day?

Where do sounds resound that rang out once in former times?
The shouts, the raucous laughter, youthful gasps and groans and cheers,
The whispered prayers from crushing cares that bore cathartic tears.
The noble and heroic chants, the hours of joyful song,
The endless flowing dialogues that lasted all night long,
Oh, where do all the brave words go when lifetime’s midnight chimes?

Where do all the bright scenes flee, when once they fade from view?
Fun meals, fat tips on family trips in diners by the road,
Romantic walks and fireside talks that lighten life’s hard load,
Times spent with those we love from early childhood to the tomb—
Where go the precious scenes we’ve seen since first we left the womb
At which we dimly gaze through evening haze as days accrue?

They linger in our memory, though taken from our eyes,
And shine within our dreams, like a perpetual sunrise.
They stay with us from hour to hour, each evening and each day;
We carry them from place to place along our pilgrim’s way.
Somehow, we never lose them, for we journey by their light;
And when, like them, we’ve fled, we will remain in God’s own sight.

.

.

Martin Rizley grew up in Oklahoma and in Texas, and has served in pastoral ministry both in the United States and in Europe. He is currently serving as the pastor of a small evangelical church in the city of Málaga on the southern coast of Spain, where he lives with his wife and daughter. Martin has enjoyed writing and reading poetry as a hobby since his early youth.


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12 Responses

  1. Paul Freeman

    I am particularly enamoured with ‘Where Do All the Moments Go?’, partly, I admit, because two of my kids flew the coop last year. You’ve captured the moment, and the times afterwards when you feel them close, exquisitely.

    And that stanza on smells! I feel like I can literally smell the various aromas.

    Thanks for the reads, Martin.

    Reply
    • Martin Rizley

      Thank you, Paul, for your feedback! I think that for most people, the sense of smell is one of the most powerful senses in terms of its ability to bring to our minds memories of the past. I am glad that you liked the poems– particularly the second, which I really enjoyed writing.

      Reply
      • C.B Anderson

        Every now and then, Martin, I catch a whiff of something I recognize in my mind’s nostrils, and I am drawn to it, but often cannot place it in any context accessible to recollection. The sense of smell is probably the most primitive of all the senses, and even the English philosopher David Hume places it apart from other types of sensation. Very peculiar.

  2. Cynthia Erlandson

    I love the imagery you’ve used to describe sleep — as if we’re riding on a chariot or sailing through a stormy sea — and also the comparison of waking from one night’s sleep on earth, to the final waking after an entire life.
    In the second poem, your use of three of our senses — smell, hearing, and vision — is a very clever way to structure meditations on the phenomenon of memories. “Where do the aromas roam… ” is a good use of alliteration, and it’s used to ask a good question.
    I like both poems. There is one line, though, in “Where Do All the Moments Go?”, which, if I were an editor, may have stopped me from reading farther: the last line of its first verse, because of its grammatical inversion, and also the use of the word “bosom”. Maybe this is just my personal bee-in-my-bonnet, but I have a mental list of words I’ll never use in a poem, because they strike me as being maudlin; “bosom” is one (“precious” and “special” are others). But I always do like your poems!

    Reply
    • Martin Rizley

      Thank you for your thoughtful critique, Cynthia. Your comments about the last line of the first stanza are perceptive, because this is in fact one line of the poem that had me stymied. I wanted to use the closing verb “clasp” because of the way it rhymes with grasp, but I could not figure out a way to express the thought of the line and have it rhyme without using an inversion. In the end, I left it as is, because I thought that although the use of inversions is never preferable, perhaps a single use of an inversion in the poem might be acceptable.

      Reply
      • C.B. Anderson

        I found your inversion here delightful, Martin, neither jarring in itself nor incompatible with the diction you employ in the rest of the poem. A well-tuned inversion, in my opinion, is much preferable to the strained usage of the pro-verb “to do” in contexts such as: “To London he did go.” Or worse: “He did go to London.”

    • C.B. Anderson

      Within the bosom lies the heart, Cynthia, but “heart” would not have met the metrical demands here. I used the word in a poem once, but only in the title, namely “Bosom Buddies”. “Breast” doesn’t work either. Can you think of another synonym that, standing alone, is a trochee?

      Reply
  3. Cheryl Corey

    Both are lovely. I especially liked “Sleep” about the mysterious world of dreams.

    Reply
  4. David Watt

    Your two reflective poems do a great job of describing the mysteries of sleep and moments passed. I particularly enjoyed “Where Do All the Moments Go?” as it includes so many vividly described images we can all relate to.

    Reply
  5. Gary

    Thank you Martin. Like Cheryl, I particularly enjoyed “Sleep”. A very well crafted poem!

    Reply

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