Of Ice and Men
(a slight rearrangement of John Milton's 7-line stanzas in his "Early Poems")

John Donne, or someone like him, must have written
Of Death and Life, conjoined and relative;
Depending on which bites and which was bitten;
Which blame and which the other should forgive;
Each claims the other smites while it was smitten.
As long as Life can die then Death will live.
Such thoughts drain minds, like water through a sieve.

Or, Milton, as he tried an early hand
At telling Time to take itself and go
As if Time needed such a reprimand
From one so young, embedded in Time’s flow
Who thought himself entitled to command
A Universe that he could never know.
What too much Bible reading goes to show.

For pure imagination, though unbridled,
Such flights of fantasy, have their appeal
As entertainment for the leisure-idled
Whose unemployment they wish to conceal.
Up to the edge of sanity they sidled,
The two Johns choosing “God” their hurts to heal.
Creative theft of Life from Time – a steal.

In course of Time, Life bred a thirst for science:
A gnawing urge not just to understand,
But to predict. On mind, constrained, reliance:
Imagination tested on demand.
In face of the unknown, a fierce defiance
To falsify or validate the grand
Suggestions, or dismiss them out of hand.

The game’s not up, here in the early innings.
Or so we hope, with Life not nearly done.
No tally yet of losses and of winnings.
Too soon the notion of the final gun.
No talk of endings, rather, bare beginnings:
Five billion years remain to fuel our sun.
Death, Life, and Time have still their race to run.

Michael Murry, "The Misfortune Teller," Copyright © 2019