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Original Poem: "Never Poke a Rough Beast" with Commentary

Updated on April 4, 2018
Maya Shedd Temple profile image

Writing poetry became my major composing activity circa 1962, and taking a creative writing class in 1963-64 deepened my growing interest.

Mad Man

Source

Introduction and Text of Poem, "Never Poke a Rough Beast"

How many times in our lives have we metaphorically "dodged a bullet"? Probably more than we wish to count. It is human nature to do all we can to forget about the bad past, live for a pleasant today, and create a good future.

Sometimes, however, while counting our blessings, we might be reminded of things in our past that we wish we had never done and people we wished we had never met. Of course, as the old saw goes, "Hindsight is 20/20." And once we can view the past from a good safe distant in the future, we can breathe a sigh of relief that things were not any worse than they were.

For example, suppose you went through a period of time engaging in a relationship with a truly nasty person, yet at the time you thought s/he was a swell, fun, and even kind. Somehow, by the grace of God, you managed to escape the clutches of that nasty person and then from a good distance you could look back see what a terribly immoral, wicked, and utterly duplicitous individual /s/he was.

The advice given in this piece comes from an attempt to reconnect with such a mendacious individual. After one has forgiven bad behavior, one would possibly refriend such a person, as long as the relationship remained a distant one, possibly based simply on some shared interest such as literature, politics, or coin-collecting.

However, if that individual then raised his/her dirty fist against you, you would be of the mind that one should "never poke a rough beast from the past," or s/he might turn against you and rend you to pieces.

Never Poke a Rough Beast

For never can true reconcilement grow,
Where wounds of deadly hate have pierced so deep.
―John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book IV, Lines 98-99

Never poke a rough beast from the past:
Likely, you will find yourself ambling
Among tombstones in the rain
Through a ramshackle garden
From which you fled
So many years ago.

Out of that moldy drizzle, you emerged.
Into healing waves, you progressed.
From a death-star specter, into the life-breathing spirit,
You returned, grateful that the Unsensed Force
Had directed your return home,
Where poetry could spray forth in joy.

Never poke a rough beast from the past,
Unless you are willing to be singed
By the bile spewing through his forked tongue.
Unleashing his aggressions, he is rabid
To strangle you with his tangled verbiage,
To erase you as he covets your triumphs.

Never poke a rough beast from the past—
The present will secure your future
As you walk in Spirit.

Mold Man 1

Source

Commentary

Making poetry out of mistakes likely constitutes the bulk of the confessional lot of doggerel. Versification and drama offer the soul a place to flutter about as it approaches the landing field of light.

First Versagraph: The Same Snake

Never poke a rough beast from the past:
Likely, you will find yourself ambling
Among tombstones in the rain
Through a ramshackle garden
From which you fled
So many years ago.

You poked. He recoiled, and struck. Why? Because he is the same snake you ran from years ago. You could continue but you are not that stupid. You do not want to find your heart and mind scuttling along dead briars on the way to perdition.

Tell the garden to calm its hemlock. Brains in the rain can become smooth. Harbors in the dust can split rocks but think no longer on the "rough beast"—the past is a dead letter. He was jealous of all you possessed while he sucked and sniveled, split his brain into marbles of fading chalk.

Amble on. But do not ramble in the shade too long. Move on. Dot your eyes and cover your tees with the branches of forgiveness. Krishna is blue and you will die on the same branch where His sacred soul moved on to Heaven.

Second Versagraph: Mr. Mold Man

Out of that moldy drizzle, you emerged.
Into healing waves, you progressed.
From a death-star specter, into the life-breathing spirit,
You returned, grateful that the Unsensed Force
Had directed your return home,
Where poetry could spray forth in joy.

Rain is life-giving unless the life it is giving has forgotten itself. Mold is a smell you will remember. Mold on his jacket, in his hair, in his eyes, covering his ears, moving through his fingers, sliding down his back, entwining his legs with mold, and the nearly visible smell of mold.

Why did he smell of mold and somehow I did not notice? No, I did notice, but instead of looking, I just overlooked. Over-smelled, as it were. Yes, he smelled like mold. One of this bimbos described his smell as like her grandmother's house—no, dear, unless your granny's house was full of mold.

Thank you, "Unsensed Force," from delivering me from the left coast, as I traveled back on the bus, I lucked out not to be arrested for the pot in my purse. A two day trip, stopping at cafes for meals.

The joy of leaving a mold-infested, subhuman, snake-like man is enough to brighten my heart any time I happen to think back. Of course, I will soon not need to be thinking back. You, Mr. Mold Man, are dead to me, dead to me, dead to me. And one day soon when the last cell of my brain jumps on that thought with both feet, I will leave forever any last thought of the Mold Man, that sucking, sickening mold man, who'll be burning, burning his Mold like a pile of autumn leaves that has a hard time catching fire but once they do, they are gone, up in smoke.

Third Versagraph: Verbal Garbage

Never poke a rough beast from the past,
Unless you are willing to be singed
By the bile spewing through his forked tongue.
Unleashing his aggressions, he is rabid
To strangle you with his tangled verbiage,
To erase you as he covets your triumphs.

No one willingly brings on and abides the shifting mental state of the wicked, who promulgate havoc with their very beings. No one endures long the "bile spewing" filthy tongue of the vile aggressive bloated egomaniac. No one can miss the danger of being strangled by the grab-bag of putrid tendrils stringing from the faithless brains of the lying liars of the world.

They will strike at your heart and mind, as they aim their venom at your soul. Your soul was not made to be singed in the acid of dark hearts, steeped in blackened minds that ramble in the sewers of hell.

No one willingly covets erasure at the hands of the devil's own spawn. No one willingly relinquishes accomplishments and singular triumphs to the rump wind of luciferian subterfuge. Playing in the valleys of despair wipes clean the chalked slate of promiscuity. The soul will shine, will shine, will shine under the sun of love, trust, hope, and faith.

Fourth Versagraph: Making a Spiritual Effort Now

Never poke a rough beast from the past—
The present will secure your future
As you walk in Spirit.

The future is secure for the one walking in faith. Leaving all rough beasts in the past where they belong, leaving the poking stick to the blazing fires of calmness, leaving all thoughts of rough beasts in the realm of burning might, leaving every stick of darkness to the bold fires of heaven, leaving the left-minded, brittle-brained Mold Man to his special place in Hades—all that leaving makes you both secure in the way of Zen: "The Way is not the way" means my way is not your way, Mold Man!

What the Mold Man does not know, he will learn after he begins to clean the mold from his fevered mind, clean the mold from his tortured heart, clean the mold from his beleaguered soul. Let him poke himself to a roused spectacle of disease, where he may become free at last. And for yourself, learn this lesson well: never poke a rough beast from the past.

Mold Man 2

Source

Life Sketch of Linda Sue Grimes

The Windmill Chapel

In the temple of silence
By the lake, we sit
In stillness, meditating
In divine Bliss.

Returning to our daily minds,
We walk out into the sunshine,
And the flowers greet us.

The Literary Life

After graduating from Centerville Senior High School in Centerville, Indiana, in 1964, Linda Sue Grimes completed her baccalaureate degree with a major in German at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, in 1967. She married Ronald Grimes on March 10, 1973.

As a writer, Grimes focuses on poetry, short fiction, politics, spirituality, and vegan/vegetarian cooking, which results in her original veggie recipes.

Literary Studies

Although music was her first love, Grimes considers herself primarily a literary specialist as she creates her own poetry, studies the poetry and literary arts of classic writers, and writes commentaries about classic poems.

However, Grimes does continue to express her love of music by writing her own original songs, which she records, accompanying herself on guitar or keyboard. She shares her musical compositions at SOUNDCLOUD.

After completing the PhD degree in British, American, and World Literature with a cognate in Rhetoric/Composition at Ball State University in 1987, Grimes taught English composition in the English Department at BSU as a contractual assistant professor from 1987 until 1999.

Publishing History

Grimes has published poems in many literary journals, including Sonoma Mandala, Rattle, and The Bellingham Review. She has published three books of poems: Singing in the Silence, Command Performance, and Turtle Woman & Other Poems, and a book of fables titled Jiggery-Jee's Eden Valley Stories.

Grimes published her first cookbook in the spring of 2013, titled The Rustic Veggie-Table: 100 Vegan Recipes. She is working on a second cookbook and her fourth book of poems.

At Owlcation, Grimes (Maya Shedd Temple) currently posts her poetry commentaries and her essays focusing on spirituality and politics. On LetterPile, she shares her creative writing of poems and short fiction, along with prose commentaries on each piece. She also posts recipes resulting from her experimental cooking of vegan/vegetarian dishes.

Spirituality

Linda Sue Grimes has been a devotee of Paramahansa Yogananda and a member of his organization, Self-Realization Fellowship, since 1978. A Kriyaban since 1979, she has completed the four Kriya Initiations, and she continues to study the teachings and practice the yoga techniques as taught by the great spiritual leader, who is considered to be the "Father of Yoga in the West."

Grimes practices the chants taught by the guru accompanying herself on the harmonium. She serves at her local SRF Meditation Group as one of the chant leaders.

Online Literary Presence

In addition to the contributions of her literary works to Owlcation, LetterPile, and SOUNDCLOUD, Grimes also curates her original creative literary pieces at her literary home, Maya Shedd Temple, on Medium, where she features her creative writing without commentaries.

Grimes also maintains an additional online presence on Facebook and Twitter.

At SRF Lake Shrine

Source

© 2018 Linda Sue Grimes

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    • Maya Shedd Temple profile image
      Author

      Linda Sue Grimes 6 weeks ago from U.S.A.

      Thank you, Lori! It is always satisfying to create a drama and fill it with colorful words, thoughts, and sentiments. Sometimes the cathartic ones continue to ring in the ears long after their completion.

      You mention you'd like to see more of my poems. I do have three published collections available on Amazon. And here is a list of titles of my poems with commentaries here at HubPages:

      Original Poem: "Red Holiday" with Commentary

      Original Poem: "The Barking Dog of Karma" with Commentary

      Original Poem: "Alex as Artist" with Commentary

      Original Poem: “Liberal Mud“ with Commentary

      Original Poem: "Song of Silence" with Commentary

      Original Poem: "Lovers in The Poet's Garden, Arles 1888"

      Original Poem: "A Book of Frost" with Commentary

      Original Poem: "The Terrible Fish" with Commentary

      Original Poem: "Power of Color" with Commentary

      Original Poem: "Funky Notions" with Commentary

      Original Poem: "Not Content to Languish" with Commentary

      Original Poem: “My Divine Beloved“ with Commentary

      Original Poem: "Autumn in Our Backyard" with Commentary

      If you'd like to read only the poem without commentary, I have placed many of those from the above list on Medium accessible at https://medium.com/@mayasheddtemple

      Again, thank you for the comment and kind words. Always love hearing from you.

      Blessings,

      Linda Sue Grimes

      (Maya Shedd Temple)

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 7 weeks ago from Pacific Northwest

      I loved your poem Sue, I would like to see more. Lovely. The message I could so relate to. Dredging up the past is a poor exercise of time, and angst. Blessings.

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