Seems like Beelzebub’s winning all over again,
smugly cavorting and grinning all over again.

God and the weather are angry and threaten us now.
Adam and Eve must be sinning all over again.

Who will be Noah and notice a need for an Ark?
The number of righteous is thinning all over again.

Flames lick the eaves, acrid smoke rips the nose,
and Nero has come violinning all over again.

Now to earth’s wanderers who will give refuge and
make them at home with her spinning all over again?

We say that we love, we want to believe it, but
why does it feel like tailspinning all over again?

The proverbs of ancients hammer our latterday
numbskulls with dire disciplining all over again.

It was all said before but since nobody listens—
must we go back to beginning all over again?

60 responses »

  1. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

    Who will be the next Noah? In a lipogram that excludes vowels–Nh. That was easy.

    Eve is V, of course, and and so on.

    I’ll start at Gnss (Genesis) and redo it all over again…

    • Ah, lipograms, what fun.! I think, though, it may prove a bit difficult to exclude all vowels and still make the thing understandable.

      For example, Gnss might be mistaken for Gneiss, which would really rock, but not be nice.

      Maybe it would be more prudent to start with omitting x, y, and z.

      (Though I do like Nh and, especially, V…..they pretty much capture, aurally and visually, a certain connotative je ne sais quoi.)

      • Will the lipogramatic ghazal become your dominant form ? I always feel a pang of excitement when confronted with new poetic forms.

        But will the public understand? Frankly, I don’t give a damn. The gauzy-eyed public is already confused–I don’t think a few lines of tricky verse will make any appreciable difference. In fact, together with dropping vowels, I was contemplating randomizing the remaining letters. I’m calling the project The New Bible. And each copy will be different, as each will have a different algorithm for word assembly.

        V will always be V, though. I think the public will find solace in this.

        • I agree about V. But you must be careful, Prospero. While I do agree about “the public” (who is that, anyway?) there’s danger inherent in dicta that outlaw letters of the alphabet, and your lipogrammatic mania may bring on a terrible tyranny, as collateral damage. We could be forced to live incommunicado, with secret juntas of cryptic letter cognoscenti running everything. If the letter B were banned, for instance, your New Bible would become The New Ile. Oh, wait…’d probably like that! Nevermind.

          • For me, the viperish allure is to have Eve cast as V–for Vivian, of viviparous birth. This sort of framing would certainly conduce to agreeable moments with a fulsome, gilt-edged book of holy deeds and persnickety misdemeanors. But I’ll leave the lipogrammatic ghazal writing to you–I’ve planted the seed and it will, in the fullness of time, germinate and bring bountiful fruit, preceded by, naturally, a secondary fullness of time, with some harrowing moments between the high peaks and desolate valleys.

            • I got caught on viviparous and my poor mind toddled back to Sophomore Biology 101…oviparous, viviparous, ovoviviparous….Now I want to leave the letter V completely in your hands and your incomparable imagination. When it comes to that gilt and guilt-edged book, you, yourself, are just the ticket for writing those lipogrammatic, frabjous words and chortling music. I think I’d better stick to a humble, pedestrianly lettered, ghazal.

              • Oh, the mysteries of life, and hence the mysteries of biology.

                Naturally I will start with the original texts in Hebrew and Hellenistic Greek, the English version being so vulgar, and then apply some stochastic (probably radioactive decay ) to the final arrangement of letters–using our sun-shiny alphabet. Some will no doubt say that the result will be as graceful as a gazelle (and you will take that to mean as graceful as a ghazal). Others will cry rubbish, only proving once again that plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose in the field of literary criticism.

                • In fact “ghazal” is the Arabic word for a “gazelle” (adapted by the French) and originally meant a form of love poetry in which the beloved was compared to that graceful animal. It’s evolved quite a way from that, I think, especially in my English language specimens, but it just goes to show how amazing your perceptive peregrinations can be, my dear Prospero.

  2. Your writing is as magical as usual and “All Over Again” hit the spot for me as I just read a piece about Autumn. My initial reaction to the autumn piece was “is it really Autumn ALREADY?” and, “How time accelerates when you are old!” I enjoyed each stanza in your poem with its own imagery and historical allusions, and thought that the refrain echoed my present sentiment well.

    • I am, these days, constantly amazed by the acceleration of time…is it already Wednesday again? Already Friday again? Already Autumn again? Seems like it was just yesterday…..Time to do this or that all over again! So different from the days when it all seemed to drag, and the weekend, or the summer, or graduation wouldn’t come fast enough. I guess time is as mental as it is anything else. I think Einstein proved that! Thank you so much for reading and for your usual interesting comment, Jane.

  3. Yes, is apparently the answer Cynthia, as those of us who have lived long enough, observed carefully enough and thought deeply enough have come to believe. Though there is always the last thing that was released from Pandora’s box of human ills………………. and I’m pretty sure there is more of this in the world than the media and politicians would have us believe!

    • And I’m pretty sure you’re right, Pauline….just when we think we”ve seen it all, the heights and depths to which humans can go may surprise us…in spite of the media and politicos. I have a suspicion, though, that people of all times might have thought what they were seeing of the world was the worst ever, the most ever….things that had never happened before. It’s probably always the same stuff, in new configurations! We have a lot of proverbs that tell us there’s nothing new under the sun!

  4. It occurred to me recently that our politicians are having the same arguments the founders had. And apparently Noel Coward once quipped in response to a question about his age that he felt like he was having breakfast every 30 minutes. I can relate. I also liked your tone on reading; tired, a little put out. I got anger on reading it, but that may be projection! I do like this ghazal form.

    • It really does seem as if we’re having the same arguments, fighting the same wars, making the same mistakes. And I like that Noel Coward quip. As i grow older it certainly does seem that time passes much more quickly than it used to. I appreciate those remarks about the reading. I don’t plan or rehearse it, usually but just read it in the same voice that wrote it. In this case, probably a voice of weary exasperation more than anything. I’m liking the ghazal, too. It’s a nice challenge to discipline and open-endedness all at the same time. Thanks for your thoughtful and interesting comment, Lisa!

  5. I am glad you left the vowels in Cynthia! Daily current affairs could be a modern Bible and the hammer falling on Mecca yesterday? Do I believe in coincidence? We truly are not listening. Very thought inspiring poem.

    • The parallels can really hit you, if you pay attention, Karen; you’re right. I may have mentioned it already, but I really like your new Gravatar….Thanks for stopping by and for the thoughts on this poem.

  6. Oh my gosh, you have wowed me again Cynthia. I think you’re right in that the same things are happening (being done ) over and over, but in a different configuration. I may be talking out of my bum but it feels to me like we are travelling backwards and the violence/cruelty/lack of compassion and empathy in the world seems more primitive than ever (Im not too good at explaining myself but I know what I mean!😊).

    And my lack of knowledge re characters such as Nero, is always brought to the fore when I read your poems. So I learn. I looked him up and read a little about him. All I knew was that he was an emperor. I had no idea that apparently (it has been said) he had Christians dipped in oil and burned to provide light for his garden. The world today has not made much progress has it?

    Thank you for causing me to think 😊 x

    • It’s wonderful, isn’t it, to have the internet at our fingertips for learning more about all the “stuff” we come across in our reading. I am no expert on Nero, but he does stand as a ready symbol of the worst kind of political power. In this poem I was trying to use those kinds of examples that probably the largest number of people raised in what is known as “western civilization” would recognize. It’s hard to know how to talk about the sadness and horror we see in the world today and that terrible feeling that something “biblical” is occurring. Anyway, I am always happy to see your sweet face smiling back from your little gravatar, and read what you have to say here. Your comments are more important to me than you know. Thanks, as always, Chris.

  7. Beautifully put, with a seductive melody to it, though the sentiment is despairing of humanity. We have had a reminder here in the UK that people are not all treading the same path blindly. The least likely outside candidate for the Labour party leadership election, has just sailed to victory. He gave a voice to the thoughts of many people for fairness, compassion for refugees, acknowledging the failure of war as a problem solver etc. He was totally unafraid of the media or of unpopularity. Thousands signed up to the party and voted. These are all people who could find no leader, in any party, worth voting for at our last general election.

    • It’s interesting that you find it despairing of humanity, Hilary. I guess, if we are meliorists we always hope that humanity will change for the better —and that the right government, the right leader will be able to cause that change. But governments and leaders are also humans, and actually don’t have total control—at least we hope not!! I guess I am not a meliorist, and that’s what prompted this poem: not despair, just an acknowledgement of sameness within change, and change masking sameness; a circularity, rather than a straight line. Is there anything new under the sun? Well, yes… and no, I would guess. Anyway, that is the question. Thank you. I’ve enjoyed thinking about your comment!

      • Hmm, making me think. I, too, have always noted the circular nature of history (and am happy to point it out to the doom mongers), but I must have an underlying optimism that humans are capable of improvement, in spite of the thinness of the evidence. Actually, I believe, there is some (scientifically) measurable trend towards less aggression, but of course unless it is accompanied by greater unselfishness is unlikely to lead to any real amelioration.

        • I’m with you, on that optimism, Hillary. We can’t stand out of our world and overview all time and space, but in the time we have got, we can try to be and seek what is good, true, beautiful.. and find much company in doing so, Do have a wonderful trip…while you’re in Chicago, turn a tad northeast and wave. I’ll wave back!

  8. Ah, Cynthia – brilliant! you are rocking with the ghazal form and what a poem! The meaning so well underpinned with the repetitive rhyming of the form – the same, yet different – also strengthened with the various intonations in your reading! So well done; so contemporary; so ancient; a question for all humanity, always, it seems….love it! For me, a rhetorical, philosophical frustration with life on planet Earth! I live in optimism that, even if collective wisdom does not seem to prevail, hopefully, in the repetitive cycle, individual learning take place at some level!

    • Thank you so much, Rob, for coming to read and for this comment. I agree with what you say about individual learning, since we cannot really know or control the collective (even the best intentions become a tyranny when people try to control other people.) It reminds me of one of my favorite passages from the work of Italo Calvino:

      “The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.”

      • What a great quote Cynthia! Thanks. I’ll take the 2nd (not the 5th! 🙂 ) – even if vigilance may falter now and then, and apprehension a constant companion be, space and silence surely will endure us to a fulfilling eternity!
        It’s always so reassuring to read /learn of /touch people who seem to have kept a ‘wiser’ perspective. Maybe humanity’s balance?

  9. There’s a musical feel to this poem. You read it slowly but I want to go faster and clap and nod and chant. It must be the repetition that that does this. It feels like you’re an old-time preacher in a revival tent. Amen, sista Cynthia!

  10. Cynthia, what a thought-provoking comment on human nature and our failure to learn the lessons of history. How sad is stanza 5 about earth’s wanderers. The current immigration crisis has to be a concern for us all, and shaming indeed is the failure of compassion in the face of dire need…

    My very best,


  11. Very good point Cynthia, we do seem to like going round and round!! Maybe it’s something to do with living on a ball shaped planet that spins? 😉 On the other hand, do we ‘like’ going round in circles? Or is it to some degree imposed upon us by those who ‘want’ us to go round in circles? I’m always slightly wary of people who make me feel I’m returning to where I’ve been. Moving forward feels a lot more healthy. 🙂

    • Hello Suzy—A wonderful insight, that we might be fond of circles because we live on a ball-shaped planet! Going in circles is an eternal mode of play, and of dance, it seems, too, but you’re right: psychologically and mentally “spinning one’s wheels” is devastating. Rational beings do like a straight line going forward, as well. Thanks for visiting, and for this nice comment!

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