Quo Fata Ferunt

Kill tragedy,
the significance of events
in scenic magnificence
leads to nothing.

The world of mythology,
of human history,
blows up our scant landscape
to a transient iridescent bubble;
stories and fables,
famous and fabulous
as all get-out
shifting and disconcerting,
forever haunt our minds.

Samson bulges straining,
short-haired in Gaza;
Theseus escapes the labyrinth,
guided by a skein gifted
by the love of a girl;
the glass shoe fits Cinderella.

The orchestra sounds
a final note, signaling
a change of scene and
Venus, Bacchus and
their followers troop in
in scanty costume,
casting doubt on the wisdom
of the golden mean;
on the purpose of modesty.

Waiting in the wings,
Cassandra and her crew
crow out the dictates of fate;
from the gods they know them all,
so they say.

Lively, extraordinary,
with remarkable gestures,
under the cracking pillars
Samson, unfazed, keeps at it.

In another clime,
a heroic battle;
Beowulf kills a mother
of a monster.

Continuous counterparts,
the bunch of them and
others like them,
meet their doom or
find some salvation,
some way out,
in the last loud accident,
the last catastrophe avoided
or met head-on.

The lesson is clear;
at the end of our passage here,
triumphant in the palace
or among the ruins
failing and falling,
all will be well,
as Oedipus said,
or better yet,
all will come to
the same blessed close,
the same unfettered outcome
to be told and retold
until we know that fate
has no hand, no say
in the claptrap way
we save ourselves
from the trouble
of uncertainty,
from knowing that
in the end
in this land of dreams
our tragedies, our triumphs
lead to nothing.


About the Author

Jack D. Harvey’s poetry has appeared in Scrivener, Mind In Motion, The Comstock Review, The Antioch Review, 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. He has been writing poetry since he was sixteen and lives in a small town near Albany, N.Y. He was born and worked in upstate New York. He is retired from doing whatever he was doing before he retired. He once owned a cat that could whistle “Sweet Adeline,” use a knife and fork and killed a postman.