Camelot Days

I think even now of a circle of friends
I knew when I came from the farm;
Men of energy, character, passion and wit,
Quick with grace and strength and charm.

I remember the round-tabled sessions we spent:
Ribald jests, bawdy tunes, Gallo Rhine,
And how, drunk unto wisdom the late hours bent
To the altar of Discourse divine.

We raved on about mystical mysteries and cause,
Over poetry, science and Zen;
Raved of women and winning them only because
They were there and we had the yen.

But of course we knew few of them, not what to do with them
Save but to wave good-bye
But, brag-full of palaver, each walking cadaver
Was ever proclaimed, “alive!”

And we fished all the waters of Camelot,
Arrant in our second-hand cars;
Conquered Bluegills and Crappies, Bass, Pike and the lot
Coming home we trolled the bars.

But the quarry was slippery, the catch all but nil,
And we ended up cant-her-ring back
To a sink full of fish that we cleaned with a will,
And an empty-armed snore in the sack.

And we duck-hunted Dicky, Pat, Warren and I
We knew each reedy pot-hole by heart.
Took fat Mallards and Redheads and Widgeon and Scaup
And the Teal that shot by us like darts.

So in autumn we quested the sloughs, fields and hills;
Spring and Summer the lakes and the streams;
And in winter we boasted of catches and kills
Learned from Merlin and painted dreams.

So full-charged was the realm to us then, so full gay,
So full-fragrant with perfume divine,
That the thought of such joy on this gray-tempeled day
Fills the heart with bitter wine.

Not that life has been gall to us, most of us thrive,
(Being wedded to beautiful spies),
We are hunters and fishers and wanderers still,
But ever with more wistful eyes.

They have sifted away, all those Camelot days,
And with them strength beauty and youth;
The circle has broken; We’ve gone separate ways
On our quest for the Chalice of truth.

Now the spaces between us gape wider with years;
Our visions are not the same:
Each battles his own den of dragons and fears
And the weight of the world’s great pain.

Still, the lost Gleam returns now and then to an eye
When we talk of young renegade ways.
As we sit by the embers and sigh long sighs--
Dreaming still of those Camelot Days.

(12/28/82) G.Pinkney