Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The Shadow of Smeagol

A poem about Smeagol, one of literature's most tragic characters...

The Shadow of Smeagol

He sneaks and scuttles sulkily about,
A creature cowering beneath the weight
Of emptiness. He cannot live without
The object of his longing – and his hate.

The token is a treasure, forged of gold
Commingled with the lifeblood of a king
Whose terror reigned in centuries of old.
His power lies within this tiny ring.

Now wretched, withering away, the wild-
Eyed wanderer is desperate to reclaim
The precious gift that left him so beguiled
And took away his comrade and his name.

“Nice hobbit,” Gollum sighs. He sees a shade
Of Deagol, who he murdered and he loved,
In Frodo. Both elated and afraid,
He trembles as old Smeagol, too long shoved

Aside, emerges. Memories creep in
And cast away the cobwebs in his mind.
The years of agony stretched him so thin,
He had forgotten what he left behind...

...gently sloping fields of windswept grain skies with wispy clouds of white
...crystal streams sustained by summer rain
...sparkling stars that shone throughout the night

...smoke-rings drifting off across the hills
...riddle contests lasting all night long
...pastries cooling on the windowsills
...taverns filled with merriment and song...

Above these images, his memory
Is overwhelmed with feelings long ignored.
Compassion, tenderness, fraternity...
Love’s purity pierces him like a sword.

For many years, obsession is the sole
Emotion he has known. This newfound light
Is blinding as it seeps into his soul.
He backs away and leaps in joy and fright.

“You stay back!” Samwise shouts, awakened by
The sudden movement. “Back, you stinking thing!”
The creature Gollum shrinks back with a cry
As Smeagol scampers off. The golden ring

Rests safely on the dozing Frodo’s chest.
Sam watches Gollum narrow-eyed, annoyed
By his intrusion. Gollum, gazing west,
Sighs. Sam will never know what he destroyed.

Monday, January 10, 2005

A Sestina Celebrating Radar O'Reilly

I really ought to spread these out a bit more, but I'm in a poem-posting mood, so here's another one. I wrote it a couple years ago in response to an assignment in poetry class requiring us to write a sestina about a sit-com character. I chose Radar because M*A*S*H is my favorite sit-com and he is my favorite character. Without further ado...


Like a little lost boy, he clutches his teddy bear
In his arms, nervously wiping his grimy glasses.
The war wants him to grow up fast, but he declines
To change. He wraps his naivety around him like a warm
Blanket to shield him from cold reality. High
School never prepared him for the arrival of choppers

Laden with wounded. The first time he saw it, his choppers
Could not consume the chow in the Mess. He simply could not bear
The sight of so much pain. Abandoning his dinner, he high-
Tailed it outside to get some fresh air. "You dropped your glasses,"
The kindly colonel called. He smiles at the memory. How warm
And fatherly was Blake. But now his face is creased with lines

Of sorrow, recalling the descent behind enemy lines –
No, the Sea of Japan should have been safe – of the chopper
Carrying his mentor home. How his hand, practically still warm
From that last handshake, trembled as he gripped the telegram, bare-
Ly able to read it through the fog of his tear-stained glasses!
If only he’d made it home, he would feel no guilt in his high

Opinion of Potter, a horse-lover and high-
Ly efficient commander who frequently inclines
An ear to the clairvoyant corporal behind those glasses,
Who has come to rely on the unexpected cry: “Choppers!”
Hawkeye, B.J., Charles...all rush to the deceptively bare
Field which, moments later, is filled with the stench of warm

Blood as wounded are unloaded. Today is a reprieve. Warm
rays of sun filter through the window; he squints as he writes, “Hi,
Ma...” He pauses, seeking soothing words to fill the bare
Page. And so he writes, filling his letter with lines
Of pleasantries, letting cheerfulness mask the dread of choppers
Looming ominously in his mind. Delicate as glass, his

Words protect her. “...Love, Walter,” he finishes. His glasses
Fog at the thought of home, and he seeks refuge in the warm
Fur of Fluffy, grateful that Hawkeye refused to chop her
Up beyond repair. The gentle rabbit’s presence is a high
Point in his homesick days. Stroking her, he imagines the lines
Of crops in Iowa, the newborn calves, his bedroom – bare.

A rabbit and a teddy bear, a pair of filthy glasses...
They are his only lines to his home, so distant and warm.
Sighing, he sips a Grape Ne-Hi and awaits the choppers.

Saturday, January 8, 2005


This poem is an illustration of one of my favorite moments in Lord of the Rings (just the book, unless this scene sneaked its way into the extended edition, which I will know soon enough). Enjoy!


His master lay in sleep’s embrace,
His face engraved with lines of care
Too deeply felt to fade away
While Sauron’s malice laid him bare.

Within the shadow of Mount Doom,
In gloom the steadfast Samwise kept
A vigil, but the foul air clad
Him in despair as Frodo slept.

A vast expanse before him stretched,
And etched into the barren ground
Were rivulets where never more
Would trace of water yet be found.

But through the weariness of night,
A light arose to comfort him.
An ancient star of ivory hue
Enlivened hope that had gone dim.

For beauty lingered even here,
So near to torment and defeat,
And whispered, “‘Tis no lasting thing.
The dark, though vast, is incomplete.”

Stout Samwise, startled by the thought,
Found naught could drive away the voice
Of providence. His placid heart
Found confidence to make a choice.

Foregoing pride and opened eyes,
Samwise the brave – Samwise the blessed –
Lay down at his beloved friend’s side,
Surrendering to blissful rest.