(Platypus & Lady A. Leon Miler)
So Platypus and Lady
Stepped into the moonlit night
Treading lightly over shadows
Into their waiting automobile,
Platypus carrying his instrument,
And Lady driving slowly into the
Many templed empire of the world.
Platypus had lived for many years
On the backside of the desert.
He had fallen in love with one like him,
A platypus, a lady, an Ethiopian,
Of rare and delicate demeanor,
And they had traveled through
Dry, dusty, and damp until
The night in Egypt along Nile’s
Well lit bank
She slipped away into the quiet
Murky pools where Pharaohs once
The parting was such as might
Happen in a grocery store, when you
Are intent on finding your purchase
Among a crowd full of strangers and
Realize the one with whom you came is
No longer present, there is panic
Until the recognizable face is found,
Except she never returned.
This is when Lady found him
Wandering the back streets of Cairo
Looking for a ride to Athens or Rome.
She promised to take him only as far
As Bosporus or maybe the Black Sea,
But they continued on into Spain.
They were discussing crossing back into
France while strolling through an
Alpine meadow high in the Pyrenees
When a mighty rushing storm came fast
Off the sea from the north. Lady turned back
To Madrid, Platypus struck out for Marseille.
Once in town and with all memory
Of snow and Spain behind, Platypus fell
In with an Algerian princess. She held
His interest well past the break of day,
Then she asked for the principle
And obliged him to pay.
With his last quarter and deep in south France,
He called lady to ask if they might be re-united,
“It was a mistake”, he said, “to be parted in the pass,
Or to pass in the night with no one around.”
Platypus learned to play violin
In the south of France,
Folk music really, in a Breton style
With a slight Creole flavor,
“Platypus swamp” he called it.
He won great acclaim for this and was
Sought all the way from
Normandy down to Nice.
It was Lady who suggested he play
His music around the world,
Just as it was Lady
Who gave Platypus his first saxophone.
She had found it in a pawn shop in south
Baton Rouge and was taken with it’s
Highly reflective and cursive brass surface.
She was much taken with her reflection in its brass bell.
Lady was tender in her heart, quite
Romantic in many ways. Her eyes were blue,
And she had her driver’s license.
Platypus had grown to love her deeply.
So it was she drove while he rode writing
His scores for the next town.
At times they picnicked where gypsies stopped
to play beneath mountain shadows
Where medieval fortresses stood.
And again they would stop beneath the walls
Of some ancient Gothic church,
Or the remnants of some ancient forests
Where had echoed Roland’s horn or some
Druid had stood.
The village priest married them,
And the constable blessed them and escorted
Them to the edge of town.
Platypus had a soul of nobility though his
Heart knew nothing of responsibility,
But he loved Lady, and with Lady he played,
Tripping through the trees, rolling in the grass,
Running through the water, splashing where they might,
Kissing in the starlight at the end of every day.
Freedom is like wine, it makes glad the heart,
And then there are those who
Are drunk on freedom and remain
In the streets after closing time, slouched
In the door frames of stores
After the lights have gone out.
Freedom is the fermented remains
Of spring ripened in hot August sun.
Freedom is not a romantic notion,
Not a thing to be trifled with,
It is more easily broken than repaired.
I met freedom walking down the street,
“I don’t know you, I don’t know you”
is all she said,
I only smiled and said something about
Getting together once in a while.
(Freedom Cranes by A. Leon Miler)
Platypus did not understand freedom
Anymore than a blackbird understands flying.
Could it be that freedom is for the oblivious?
Not understanding flying,
Platypus soared from where he had stood,
But freedom was his natural domain,
If freedom can be compared to real estate.
Platypus and Lady took to their travel
Without much of a goal,
Without much real thought,
Without much money,
Just a Cadillac La Salle,
Just a smile and a wave,
And away they drove
Down roads bricked out in time,
Down roads black topped and paved,
Down roads divided and distant,
Down roads rutted and dusty.
Freedom finally came to a halt,
Broken down on tires bald and slippery,
In a place quite distant,
Far from south France.
It’s alright to break down
At night in a far distant place;
For you lie down to sleep,
And when the light creeps over
The edge of the world,
You awake in silence broken by birds
Different from those you have known,
And the cool of the morning
You would otherwise have missed:
Observation forced by circumstance.
Freedom has become slave to decay.
Freedom and circumstance
Dance a quiet dance
Slowed to the refrain of every breaking day.
What of Platypus?
He’s in the backseat sleeping.
Lady is combing her hair
using the rear view mirror.
All is quiet while freedom and circumstance dance.
Response is reaction to learned events,
Cognitive things stuck in your memory.
Responsibility is reaction to circumstance,
Like Freedom’s arms flailing
While she is falling:
Circumstance is a lousy dancer.
Lady is not.
Lady’s a queen, she plays it in spades,
She’ll trump you,
Then she’ll smile all sweet and demure,
And convince you she’s quite shy,
But in the end she holds
All the cards.
Lady was his model and she was his peer,
She waited while he ate avocados
And French bread buttered with hollandaise.
She held the violets to be the flower girl,
Her origins were ancestral,
She dated them to the beginning.
Her early youth were made of vague memories,
Random and rare, and mostly things
She remembered nothing prehistoric,
And the historic was a remembered relic,
Like Adonis or Apollo,
Like Athena or Aphrodite,
Like Barbie, long legged and bare
Riding the ocean waves on a clam shell.
Her life was like a harmonic pattern
Like the grain of wood,
Like the cirrus clouded sky,
Or wind across the grassy lot,
Or like the water’s rippling waves.
Lady dances but she is discreet.
She was a traveler, but she knew her rights,
A lady in her right, she could see
The road ahead until it ran from sight.
Lady was a merchant who sold her goods
And received her return
All the way from Oklahoma to Istanbul.
She sold what was wanted,
She sold it well,
She sold with a personal touch
That was pleasant to see,
What she sold to others
She gave to me.
She was charitable.
She was an angel when she stopped in a dry and dusty land,
Platypus was a pilgrim when he took her hand.
This was the beginning of their friendship.
Lady’s a lady, and Freedom’s a queen,
And freedom is victim to noblesse oblige.
Freedom’s obligation gives her right,
But the card must be played,
Else right turns to license
And the Queen becomes libertine.
While seeming certain has its distinct advantages,
Composure under fire when nothing comes to mind has
What I don’t know, I don’t know well.
They say those on parallel courses will
It seems a shame to never meet the one with whom
You most agree.
Space; like time, is a thief,
A bandit on a holy pilgrimage with profane hands
Searching for profound thoughts,
And finding them, he becomes a holy thief,
A prophet of conceit.
Space and time are distant figures
On the edge of my vision.
I have no space and too little time.
(3 Wolves by A. Leon Miler)
There were three brother wolves
Posing in the shadows.
Their aim was not to intimidate,
They were just hanging out being cool.
Platypus was not predatory,
Predation disturbed him.
He did not care for the sound of being chewed upon.
So it was that the 1st Brother said to the 2nd Brother,
and the 3rd Brother agreed,
That Platypus in the shadows
Was out of his environment,
And maybe he should take his lady and leave.
They were not trying to intimidate,
They were environmentalists.
They were seeking only what was pure and unblemished.
The three brother Wolves
Had not been born in the shadows,
They had been born in a dirt bank,
And rocks were the only
Hard currency in their vault.
It had not occurred to them
That their place in the shadows
Was not original,
And they were only shades
Of what they used to be.
Seeing them posing,
Lady knew they should be released.
She followed after Platypus
And vowed to return and set them free.
It may be presumptuous to consider shadows as restraints.
I do not believe I would have presumed such,
Nonetheless Lady so presumed,
Or maybe she knew,
For Lady’s a queen,
And freedom’s a bitch howling at the moon.
Six miles high the clouds are forming
Crystal ice rings around the moon.
Freedom is left in a swirl of turbulence
Shearing around the word.
Freedom obscured is the motion of the moment.
Freedom remains a visualized abstraction.
Freedom in my thoughts is less than a word.
Freedom written is a crystallized abstraction.
Graphic freedom dissolves once again into a visual abstraction.
Freedom is thoughtless action in flight
Snatching the woodland mouse like a bird of prey.
Freedom thought about is captive to the idea.
Freedom captive is less than free
But nonetheless it motivates me.
Freedom chooses its own restraints,
Freedom bricked in with the mortar of choice
Becomes a barricade behind which I choose shelter.
I will not sell freedom for a dime,
Nevertheless, if you have a dollar, we’ll negotiate.
Freedom is a prison that constrains me from
Carrying the burden of the present.
(Closing Time by A. Leon Miler)
So Platypus and Lady
Stepped into the moonlit night
Going from the place of shadows
Where posers were
And walked off down the street
past all the darkened retreats.
It was past the hour when the late night
People were about.
The streets were empty.
It was here they found Happiness in pursuit
of one who could stay true and not depart.
There are those who claim a right to Happiness,
But he cannot be held when it is not his will.
Nevertheless there are those
Who make it their quest.
Sir Galahad had never sought the Holy Grail so earnestly.
Yet Happiness is an elusive soul,
Not one to articulate his desires past the moment.
For when Happiness has dined
And his soul is sate,
He is prone to fall asleep within his retreat
And stay until the summer sun
Is blown in with the wind.
This night Platypus and Lady dined with Happiness,
When morning had come, he had gone.
“Don’t talk to me of attitudes,” Lady spoke
After Happiness had disappeared,
For Platypus had awoke grouchy and glum,
“I have right to Happiness,” he said,
And threw his shoes across the room.
He did not wear shoes,
It did not make him happy,
So he complained of attitudes and such.
Lady’s a queen and Happiness is a knave,
Though its not quite clear
He stole tarts or hearts or anything else.
Happiness is a fleeting hope, a vicarious moment.
I saw the knave of hearts out on the streets,
Flirting with a skinny girl,
And though her heart was with his heart,
Her ideals would not allow a smile,
Would not allow the touch of a hand,
Would not allow a soft kiss in the night.
Happiness went weeping down the street,
So both Happiness and the skinny girl appealed to the queen.
Lady was reclining in a lawn chair
With Platypus beside her.
Both were in the shade of a distinguished tree
On the lawn beside the sidewalk.
Hollyhocks, poppies, and old fashioned roses
Grew between the sidewalk and the street.
The walk to the front door was lined with English yews
Platypus was playing the saxophone softly
As Lady was singing a waltz
With the evening breeze as a counter point,
And the neighbor’s water sprinkler
Keeping time from across the street.
The curtains blew from the window above their heads.
From down the street, several blocks distant,
Almost to the corner store,
Happiness was was walking
Alone and dejected.
From up the street,
Past the corner where the grocery store was,
All the way past the old, vacant Presbyterian church,
The skinny girl was walking alone heading their way.
Lady had changed her tune, now humming softly
An ancient Irish hymn,
(Or was it a Mexican lullaby?),
Platypus followed with ease,
Leaning back in the grass
And closing his eyes to the sky.
The skinny girl and Happiness
Having arrived at the same time,
Slowly began their discourse:
“If Freedom is a Lady,
And Lady is a Queen,
Then Freedom is a Queen…”
Happiness stated categorically.
“Either Freedom’s a Lady, or—
But no, the alternatives are not so good…”
“What right have you to Happiness?”
Happiness is a knave,
He’ll play into your hand,
Happiness is vagrant and fleeting,
You play him and he’s gone,
Like a kiss in the night,
Like a shot in the dark,
Like a dog on the run,
But onward he spoke:
If Happiness is right, and right is supreme,
Then Happiness is supreme.”
The skinny girl;
Who until now, had not spoken,
For if Happiness is supreme,
What of the Queen?”
“Is the knave a wild card
that he can trump all?”
“And what of the Joker,
He’s not been seen for awhile.”
Deduction pours facts
Down the funnel of reason,
Induction’s a shotgun blast
From the point of impact,
And Happiness stands to reason before the Queen.
But the skinny girl is no fool,
In the Parliament of cards,
She has made the rule.
And what of the impact of shooting stars
and striking metaphors? I guess it depends
on the point of impact.
Lady smiled and dealt another hand
From the lawn chair where she sat.
Platypus played on undisturbed.
Happiness comes and goes like a child.
And the skinny girl?
She’s a Lady.
(Platypus Playing Violin by A. Leon Miler)