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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Sean Gilbert and an Epic Lyrical Drama

Epimetheus Bound


SCENE. - The OCEANIDES bear VICTOR from the depths of the waters by their father OCEANUS, depositing him on the unknown shore.

OCEANIDES
Perforce at Oceanus’ behest,
We bring this weary traveler to trial.
Secure and safe from harsh Poseidon’s breast
to drift ashore upon the Almost Isle.
For Almost Island makes a home for men
whom ship and land and sea shall cast aside,
past Heaven, Hell, and past all Earthly ken
with none to succor thee but passing tide.
And those forgotten souls who wander here
shall know no peace in rest if he should fail.
And failing thus himself shall disappear
with those who slip beyond its misty veil.
The bosom of these shores be now his bed.
The waves allay the sleep he takes thereon.
Before, his int’rest roused, he raise his head
we must away ere he awakes anon…

The OCEANIDES recede with the tides as VICTOR awakens, rising slowly.

VIRGINIA DARE approaches as he steps away from the water.

VIRGINIA
(to VICTOR)
Well met! Our welcome warm thee, wayward son.
You’re saved (the Lord be praised)
- though dazed somewhat.
I pray, what deeds did you that once were done
seems time and all mankind have now forgot?

                  VICTOR
My thanks for this mysterious address,
fair lady, for the kindness you have shown.
Alas to my chagrin I must confess
such deeds to me as well are yet unknown.
What place is this beyond abysmal void,
this harbor for such seamen dispossessed?
Where water, will, and weather leave destroyed
our ships and hopes but leave intact the rest?

                  VIRGINIA
Forgive me, sir, I am Virginia Dare.
Firstborn in Roanoke but lived not long
for Powhattan drove us to flee from there
to Croatoan, rumor, lore, and song.
One clue alone we etched across the bole,
Just “Croatoan” wrote, and nothing more.
With this our place in Almost Legend stole
but Roanoke was lost beyond restore.

                  VICTOR
It grieves me so, I fear, to hear your song.

                  VIRGINIA
You grieve not fair. I swear you’ll grieve not long.

                  VICTOR
How so not fair? Shall I unfairly grieve?

                  VIRGINIA
Your pardon, sir, I humbly beg your leave.
You’ll tire of your tears before too long,
no matter how disconsolate the song.

VIRGINIA walks towards the woods beyond the beach.

VICTOR moves to follow, but is cut off by the entrance of IOLAUS and IPHICLES.

                  IOLAUS
How now? Has fortune brought us some new friend?

                  IPHICLES
      (scolding IOLAUS)
Don’t revel in another sailor’s end.

                  IOLAUS
      (humbly; to VICTOR)
Your pardon, sir, I meant thee not unkind.
Not oft do we another gentle meet.
When lost we were this harbor did we find
and never since have spied the shores of Crete.
It struck me so to see you come our way
and in my zeal I fear my tongue did slip.
But never would I wish you cast away
and doomed to our mistfortune’s fellowship

                  VICTOR
Not so! Your welcome warms me, gentle kin.
I have indeed been cast from fortune’s wing.
If that should lead me to such gentlemen,
I’ll take the fellowship to ease the sting.

                  IPHICLES
I’m Iphicles, your servant sir, by oath
and this, my son Iolaus, bids you well.
In trying times you’ll come to trust us both
while all of us must face Ulysses’ spell.

                  IOLAUS
      (laughs)
Poseidon’s wrath is not what binds us thus,
nor do the seas prevent our safe return.
The trouble is, the world’s forgotten us
and you as well, I fear you’ll come to learn.

                  VICTOR
Your pardon grant me, sirs, I beg thee so.
Should I have known thee from some storied song?
I fear that I have lost what I should know
and pray that I should find it ere too long.

                  IOLAUS
Offense has not been offered or inferred,
No pardon shall be offered in its stead,
No song can be forgot that was not heard,
No words forgot that no one ever said.
But once we were among the storied few,
But since the tales have left us from the page,
And once forgot, then no one ever knew,
And what may live that need not ever age?

                  VICTOR
I prithee sirs to share with me your tales
that I remember thee upon my leave.
If ever homeward winds should fill my sails
I’ll sing of thee to all who will believe.

                  IOLAUS
      (pleased)
Once more well met! Such kindness for the cursed!
My father by his honor should go first.

                  IPHICLES
My thanks, my son, and you, good-mannered sir.
To grant me leave to still believe myself.
That such discovery may yet occur
for undiscovered volumes on the shelf.

My brother was the offspring of the storm,
from lightning and the flesh both intertwined.
A god of men who walked in mortal form
while I, the son of man, was left behind.
From birth he was a hero brave and strong,
His infant strength withstood the serpent’s coil.
On Earth all ears would hear his noble song,
Immortally rewarding Earthly toil.
In service to my twin I proudly strode,
In service by his side I met my doom,
In battle fought for glory unbestowed,
In battle fell but no one knows to whom.

                  IOLAUS
I served my father’s brother fair and true.
By land and sea I traveled at his side.
For enemies we faced and boldly slew
he gave to me his first unlucky bride.

The hydra sang his song with dying breath
until I sealed its necks with singing fire.
I served his kin beyond the fields of death.
Upon his death ‘twas me who lit the pyre.

So wherefore, then, Iolaus been forgot?
Who served as friend to demigods and kin?
And why should men bestow to him this lot?
Of vanishing to banishment again?
                 

Did not I know the triumphs that he knew?
Did not I earn my fame in Ancient Greece?
Did not I serve upon the Argo too?
Did not I help secure the golden fleece?

                  IPHICLES
But worry not about such things, I pray,
for you have traveled far without repose.
Let’s leave such musings for another day
and find a place to set aside our woes.

                  IOLAUS
Oho! I know of just the place to go!
We’ll take him to the Inn Between the Seas!
That place where souls at rest shall briefly know
before they slip beyond life’s mysteries!

                  IPHICLES
Oh aye, if such distractions should ensnare,
the Inn Between the Seas will weave its web.
For ev’ry patron’s almost legend there
upon those tides of time that fail to ebb.

IOALUS and IPHICLES lead VICTOR through the woods, but find VIRGINIA DARE standing in their path.

                  VIRGINIA
Your pardon, sirs, I must your errand break
and put your revelry to brief delay.
Anon I must your fellow’s favor take.
Allow him later come to you today.

                  IPHICLES
Fair lady, all our favor take at will.
The interruption causes no chagrin.
Such timeless time we’ll find to drink our fill
and, sir, we part but soon will meet again.

                  VICTOR
This parting grieves me greatly, gentle friends.

                  IOLAUS
When next our paths shall cross we’ll make amends.

IOLAUS and VICTOR clasp hands.

Exeunt IOLAUS and IPHICLES.

VICTOR and VIRGINIA DARE walk further into the woods.

                  VICTOR
My lady, may I ask you what’s amiss?
What urgency must call me to your side?
Can such exist in such a place as this?
Where all the laws of time do not abide?

                  VIRGINIA
How quickly you have come to learn that truth,
that time is not a player on this stage.
How fortunate you came here in your youth,
for not another minute will you age.

                  VICTOR
I see no blessing in ametric time.
Such static-animus I must deny.
What use without its tempo is the rhyme?
And what is said to live that will not die?
For what is real when time stands still in space?
Since all of space and time are intertwined?
And do we move if we but run in place?
Or is this all a phantom of the mind?
Why lead me thus away into the wood?
What errand could entreat such swift reply?
If nothing here shall matter as it should?
What matters once all matter’s gone awry?

                  VIRGINIA
But matter is the matter now at hand.
This island is as real as moon and sun.
Can not you trust the ground on which you stand?
You’ll come to trust it best before we’re done.
The island stalls not all of time’s attack.
While time may pass it passes passively.
The tempus squall that holds the clock-hand back
can set aright its flight quite easily.
In titan’s thrall we crawl upon his back,
marooned upon the hump that crests the sea.
Should titan fall then all would fade to black.
That titan calls for audience with thee.

VICTOR and VIRGINIA DARE come to a stream. They approach BRUCE and BRAUTIGAN.  BRUCE leans on a tree. BRAUTIGAN sits by the stream with his bare feet in the water.

                  BRUCE
My soul, here comes the fair Virginia Dare!
And some new suitor come to us of late.
If fair to ask, how fares the lady fair?
How fares this fair young man who shares your fate?

                  VICTOR
How fare you, sirs? I’ve not the pleasure yet.

                  VIRGINIA
What mischief have you wrought since last we met?
                  
                  BRUCE
Is it not clear? I’m hunting boar and quail.

                  BRAUTIGAN
Not me, my dear! I’ve trout fish by the tail!

                  VIRGINIA
      (to BRUCE)
How keen! You lean so stoic on the bole!
An expert huntsman absent of a bow!
      (to BRAUTIGAN)
My my! How sly to fish without a pole!
And slip your quarry’s notice, laying low!

                  BRAUTIGAN
A huntsman short of bow is apropos,
And fishers with no poles no goals dispel,
In woodlands void of game ‘tis rightly so,
In waters without fish, it’s just as well.

                  VIRGINIA
      (to VICTOR)
I give thee Robert Bruce, the Scottish King,
Who fought to free his countrymen from rule,
And Brautigan, his friend and following,
Accomplice to this lord, this lordly fool.

                  VICTOR
Good sirs, I hold you both in high regard!
Your works to me are most distinctly known.
How were you from your just renown disbarred?
I’ll not this grievous apathy condone.

                  BRUCE
      (to BRAUTIGAN; amused)
He says he knows us both!

                  BRAUTIGAN
      (to BRUCE)
Distinctly so!

                  BRUCE
Shall he attest what he profess to know?

                  BRAUTIGAN
      (to VICTOR)
Please suffer me to ask of thee, my lad,
to name the Bruce’s works you best esteem.
If you misspoke, or joke, that’s not so bad.
No trespass will have passed you can’t redeem.

                  VICTOR
Good sir, I can assure I misspoke not.
Nor did profess no less than what I mean.
I can’t explain the fame he never got.
I’ve seen the Bruce upon the silver screen.

                  BRUCE
Aha! And now we taste the bloodied meat!
Mel Gibson’s contribution to my name!
But whose renown is said to be complete
when lies provide the framework for his fame?

I came to claim my throne in faith, I say,
By murder came I to the crown, ‘tis true.
But when exact did I my friend betray?
This Wallace was a man I barely knew.
He left his guard before I took his place
and had no claim or aim to take the throne.
I made John Comyn’s grave before His grace
but Wallace, once he left, I left alone.
So how’s it pass that I should take the blame
for Falkirk where the brave heart nobly cracked?
‘twas Menteith who deserved the traitor’s fame.
So how’s it pass that my name’s so attacked?

                  BRAUTIGAN
You’re blessed in that your name may yet endure
while lesser names have faded from all ken.
As well the recollection be unsure
than slip forever all the minds of men.

                  BRUCE
What good’s remembered if remembered wrong?

                  BRAUTIGAN
Than be a ghost, it’s better be a song.
And better be a ghost than scattered dust,
And better dust than nothing ever born,
The sword that’s never forged may never rust,
What never lived, we find not heart to mourn.
Bemoan you may your given place in time,
But history so rarely gives our due.
You’d rather man recall your real crime?
That man should rightly loathe the real you?
So why should you presume to be maligned?
Who’s ever been remembered right and true?
Just humbly take the role you’ve been assigned
and see yourself the man that others view.

                  BRUCE
If I have sinned then damn me for my faults.
That fate I have not earned, I will not take.
What good’s salvation won if it be false?
What good’s redemption made for fiction’s sake?
Who needs new views? Who needs humility?
What lesser destiny is there to fear?
“Fuimus” was my bloodline’s legacy.
Our motto simply stated “we were here”.

                  BRAUTIGAN
      (to VICTOR)
Methinks he thinks he ought to linger here.
For misremembered’s not the same as lost.
While almost legends tend to disappear,
the counterfeit must pay a diff’rent cost.
What matters fame where time can find no hold?
Where day will never rise or night will fall?
To say that “we have been” since days of old?
When I don’t think we ever were at all.

                  VICTOR
It seems that strange lament’s a sentence shared.
Can Brautigan be found more genuine?
If counterfeit’s accomplice were ensnared
and brought again to answer Bruce’s sin?

                  BRAUTIGAN
We each of us to almost make our way
for almost all are almost always there.
And almost always in all ways all pay
for someone else’s sins, it’s all most fair.
For always others pay the cost of ours
and so the price we pay’s the same in sum.
The sin of one the soul of all devours,
The end the one has won, to all will come.

But for myself it seems but fair to note
that sound of mind I found the siren’s call.
Of troutfishing and sugar mines I wrote
but wrote I not about those things at all.
Those watermelon shores upon the bank
had drawn my missing fishing boat to land.
‘Twas Bertrand Russell’s Kool-Aid mix I drank
and sank in sugar beaches short of sand.
What author should by living be recalled?
Should not our words our works all supersede?
Are not our thoughts what keep us thus enthralled?
All writ into the blackened strokes we bleed?

Take Ishmael, Sir Melville’s avatar,
Delivered safe though unaccompanied,
Our dear old Stubb found no such guiding star,
That aspect of its author atrophied.
When Queequeg carved for Ishmael his raft,
he bought his fame though came no more to land,
The Pequod more a casket than his craft,
for Ahab’s wrath made graves for every hand.
But Ishmaels do not this island find,
Nor spearmen who ensure their safe return,
Nor madmen whose revenge has left them blind
to perils others face without concern.
Did Ishmael deserve to live alone?
Was he the pious sailor of the lot?
No crimes for mercy’s sake he must atone?
That he forever never be forgot?
Did Queequeg by himself to death succumb?
Was he the only member of her crew?
Drank he alone the murd’rous chalice rum?
Where’s Flask, I ask, Tashtego and Dagoo?
And Ahab, of them all, should so be spared?
That ever shall his name be writ in stone?
To pass for judgment but by grief impaired
and not a heart to match the devil’s own?
And what know we of Melville from these signs?
These shattered fragments scattered from his heart?
What meaning can we guess? And what designs?
If any, from this mirror blown apart?
As well to judge a man based on his dreams,
Forget-me-nots his desp’rate soul has sought.
Is any man in virtue as he seems?
Is any man remembered as he ought?

                  VICTOR
      (to BRUCE and BRAUTIGAN)
I hope for both your sakes--

The ground rumbles beneath them.

                  VIRGINIA
      (interrupting; alarmed)
The titan wakes!

BRUCE
Wise counsel says “be wary”.

                  BRAUTIGAN
Best not tarry!
For once the titan’s roused, the island shakes.

                  BRUCE
For bound he be...

                  BRAUTIGAN
...but not sedentary.

                  VIRGINIA
Away we must to seek the island’s core.
The giant lies inside that aperture.
We’ll plead our case upon the crescent shore
to ease our patron God’s discomfiture

VIRGINIA DARE leads VICTOR away from BRUCE and BRAUTIGAN, deeper into the woods.

                  VICTOR
They’re quite the pair, so debonair and cool,
Which prompts me but to wonder this of you,
For one a King you called, the other Fool,
while I saw no distinction of the two.

                  VIRGINIA
      (amused)
No doubt no diff’rence found you in their air,
discernible discrepancy of mien,
or diff’rences ‘twixt fool and royal heir,
No such disparity was ever seen.
But goodness knows that such as those may do
to while away the idle endless days.
But, left to me, I’ll see one such as you
to represent good fortune’s castaways.
So come and see our tabernacle, sir,
And see our savior chained upon his throne,
And see him ne’er against his shackles stir,
And see his labors weighed against your own.

                  VICTOR
And now not Kings but Gods I come to meet!
Is not this titan’s title so renowned?
Shall I prostrate myself before his feet?
And throw myself upon that hallowed ground?

                  VIRGINIA
I bring you not to worship but to see,
To witness where the Almost Legends rest,
To know the titan’s judgment so that he
can offer you the strength to pass the test.

They exit the wood to find a tide pool surrounded by a crescent-shaped beach.

VICTOR
And just what test is this I should have passed?

In the center of the tide pool crowned by the crescent shore, a giant head crests the surface.

EPIMETHEUS has awakened.

                  EPIMETHEUS
The first of these you face will be your last.

                  VICTOR
      (stunned)
How now? What sorcery is here at work?

                  VIRGINIA
You gaze not on a pool where evils lurk.
      (gestures toward the tide pool)
The axis of the island holds the key,
The Atlas of the Almost here we find,
The object of his curse, obscurity,
From honored annals cast, to depths confined.
And chained beneath this arabesque atoll,
the titan’s head above the surface swell.
The island wreath is moored to shoulders’ wall
aloft against disaster fierce and fell.
His face framed in the center of the pool
is haloed by this hallowed ring of earth.
The titan bound, his arms outstretched to full,
the shore held at a tantalizing berth.
For should he falter in his duty’s call,
for but a brief repose his burden slip,
the island ring succumbs against the squall,
and all shall join below your storm-wrecked ship.

                  VICTOR
      (to EPIMETHEUS)
Apologies for hasty words, my lord!
I hope you judge me not unkindly now.
In ignorance I have your plight ignored.
I’ll gladly recompense, just tell me how.

EPIMETHEUS
This state of Grace is all the pay I’m due,
Your interruption’s introductory,
I’ll see your praise and raise a name to you,
with equal platitudes and flattery:

I’m Epimetheus, the God of Gods,
Think on my words, ye flighty, and despair!
Aloft I hold those broken balustrades
that once did climb that neverending stair.
But nevermore that neverending climb
to steal away from this eternal pause.
And nevermore to shift this paradigm,
And nevermore to serve that noble cause.

                  VICTOR
But how came you to know so ill a fate?
O Blesséd Ancient, offspring of the morn?
How could the gods so cruelly remonstrate?
Did not you make your mark ere they were born?

                  EPIMETHEUS
Though older than the gods, I’m no more wise,
but neither will nor pride have silenced me.
This sea of tears cascading from my eyes
has claimed and shamed me justifiably.
I gave the ancient beasts their strength and speed,
My brother would inspect each offering.
In retrospect I met each creature’s need
but precious man I gave not anything.
My brother meant to fix my oversight,
stole Vulcan’s craft, alas, to offer them.
My brother sinned for men to mend the slight
and Zeus’ wrath, alas, was granted him.
I do but tell of crimes committed thus,
Committed not by me but for my sake,
The oversight of Epimetheus
was more than his dear brother’s heart could take.

In sequel to this farce, my greater sin,
The trials that I faced had just begun,
For Zeus’ wrath had not yet to begin
its sins to his creation grievous done.
I taught not man of timber-work or brick,
Nor gave to him the secrets of the muse,
But managed through it all a final trick,
At last I gave to man his lasting dues.
For Zeus to me a bride from Heavens sent,
And in her beauty’s flame my heart so fanned,
Her poisoned jar unsealed at my consent,
Pandora’s box unlocked at my command.
And then I gave at last to men their gift,
The power of their secret shadow-soul,
That flesh and wicked spirits set adrift
should join to make his dear creation whole.

                  VIRGINIA
The cargo of her jar was not all loosed.

                  EPIMETHEUS
      (amused)
One treasure still inside was not produced.
For hope remained as ever locked away.
And never has it surfaced to this day.

                  VICTOR
So why’s this titan drowned in tears of shame
if hopelessness unchecked should so amuse?
To weep your brother shouldering the blame
for robbing men their rightly offered dues?
Or weep you so upon your own account?
For all these lavish miseries you’ve bought?
These punishments do not to much amount
except to mark a hollow afterthought.

                  EPIMETHEUS
An afterthought’s a fitting mark for me,
For hindsight is the skill I best project.
For forethought was my twin’s ability,
So well-intentioned, yet so circumspect.
But spared we not poor man his promised end,
For industry was offspring to the flame,
Deformed in ways I cannot comprehend,
but man just flat refused to take the blame.

                  VICTOR
Why hate you men so much to taunt us thus?

EPIMETHEUS
If not for man, all lands belong to us.
      (acquiesces)
I hate not man, nor wish to cause him pain.
For he may lose but we stand not to gain.

Yet while you stand rebuffed in righteous rage,
my brother lies tormented on the stone.
A single player on that lonely stage,
while man be lost, the titan’s left alone.
And while he sacrificed eternity
to recompense my oversight to you,
what man has ever sought to set him free
and give Prometheus his lasting due?

                  VICTOR
But there’s an even greater oversight,
That now on looking back you miss it still!
We can that sentence simply overwrite
with cunningly repurposed raptor-quill!
Has not your brother’s freedom been achieved?
Did not his efforts leave his name renowned?
For what is real but what’s to be believed?
The titan by the poet is unbound!
For while his liver fed the raptor’s wrath,
a cunning thief plucked out a single plume,
and mapped for him in verse a clever path
that cunningly reversed the titan’s doom.
                 
EPIMETHEUS
And now that doom belongs to us instead.
Belief belies the verdict of the King.
Those words were writ with ink the eagle bled
but not a bird secures our suffering.
While he be freed by man’s acknowledgement,
Our punishment’s to be in shadows cast,
So how can we escape imprisonment
when banished to the long-forgotten past?

But no, I know of no end more deserved
than languishing outside the mortal plane.
I am in static apathy preserved
and none hate me, or triumph from my pain.
No Heracles shall slay my captor now,
Unless indeed it’s me he comes to slay,
No poetry my liberty allow,
My anonymity is here to stay.

This place I made to rob me of my name,
My soul to rest to rid me of my shame.

                  VICTOR
If I’ll not take the test, to ease your heart?

                  EPIMETHEUS
Decline my welcome, guest, and please depart.

VIRGINIA
But how may he depart while we remain?
What grants him leave to just repatriate
before the world has sung his last refrain?
Does not he share with us our very fate?

                  EPIMETHEUS
Methinks your friend’s arrival here askance,
Unlike the sorrowed souls you walk among,
And so believe he is but here by chance,
And so may leave before his deeds are sung.

                        VICTOR
I thank thee for thy leave to leave thy Grace,
But frankly I’m not seeking such release.
I find I’m disinclined to so efface
myself from these intrigues beyond surcease.

I know not what divine designed it so,
And know I not what tidings it may bring,
But for my part I’ve not the heart to go,
It’s not of my own deeds I’m here to sing.

                  VIRGINIA
To whom do you presume you’ll sing at all,
if fortune brought you here and not mischance?
You’re still marooned with us, if you recall.
Unless you mean to mend that circumstance.

                  VICTOR
My lady, I mean not to mend it yet,
But ere I quit this isle I’ll make amends,
And see that not again will men forget
these heroes and their story when it ends.
I know a stage whereon I’ll wager I
can make these wretched refugees recall
the days before that latent Lorelei
awoke and broke their ships against her wall.
And now they break their fast instead of ships
but still the sirens draw them from the path.
And in between, the sea’s apocalypse,
this endless unrelenting aftermath.
For absent of advancement, age, or growth,
They know no more of hope than of desire,
I’ll stoke the smoke that whispers over both
until once more they roar with Vulcan’s fire.
It’s true we stole the storm’s Olympic flame
and evil then was loosed on all mankind.
At last our rightful boon we’ll now reclaim
by taking back the gift we left behind.
To find the truth I’ll seek our patron’s wife
and trace this to its mythic origin.
I’ll end this endless almost afterlife
by opening Pandora’s box again.


The scene closes with VICTOR marching back into the woods. VIRGINIA DARE reluctantly follows. Satisfied, EPIMETHEUS sinks back into his pool.        Epimetheus Bound
A lyrical drama by Sean Gilbert


SCENE. - The OCEANIDES bear VICTOR from the depths of the waters by their father OCEANUS, depositing him on the unknown shore.

OCEANIDES
Perforce at Oceanus’ behest,
We bring this weary traveler to trial.
Secure and safe from harsh Poseidon’s breast
to drift ashore upon the Almost Isle.
For Almost Island makes a home for men
whom ship and land and sea shall cast aside,
past Heaven, Hell, and past all Earthly ken
with none to succor thee but passing tide.
And those forgotten souls who wander here
shall know no peace in rest if he should fail.
And failing thus himself shall disappear
with those who slip beyond its misty veil.
The bosom of these shores be now his bed.
The waves allay the sleep he takes thereon.
Before, his int’rest roused, he raise his head
we must away ere he awakes anon…

The OCEANIDES recede with the tides as VICTOR awakens, rising slowly.

VIRGINIA DARE approaches as he steps away from the water.

VIRGINIA
(to VICTOR)
Well met! Our welcome warm thee, wayward son.
You’re saved (the Lord be praised)
- though dazed somewhat.
I pray, what deeds did you that once were done
seems time and all mankind have now forgot?

                  VICTOR
My thanks for this mysterious address,
fair lady, for the kindness you have shown.
Alas to my chagrin I must confess
such deeds to me as well are yet unknown.
What place is this beyond abysmal void,
this harbor for such seamen dispossessed?
Where water, will, and weather leave destroyed
our ships and hopes but leave intact the rest?

                  VIRGINIA
Forgive me, sir, I am Virginia Dare.
Firstborn in Roanoke but lived not long
for Powhattan drove us to flee from there
to Croatoan, rumor, lore, and song.
One clue alone we etched across the bole,
Just “Croatoan” wrote, and nothing more.
With this our place in Almost Legend stole
but Roanoke was lost beyond restore.

                  VICTOR
It grieves me so, I fear, to hear your song.

                  VIRGINIA
You grieve not fair. I swear you’ll grieve not long.

                  VICTOR
How so not fair? Shall I unfairly grieve?

                  VIRGINIA
Your pardon, sir, I humbly beg your leave.
You’ll tire of your tears before too long,
no matter how disconsolate the song.

VIRGINIA walks towards the woods beyond the beach.

VICTOR moves to follow, but is cut off by the entrance of IOLAUS and IPHICLES.

                  IOLAUS
How now? Has fortune brought us some new friend?

                  IPHICLES
      (scolding IOLAUS)
Don’t revel in another sailor’s end.

                  IOLAUS
      (humbly; to VICTOR)
Your pardon, sir, I meant thee not unkind.
Not oft do we another gentle meet.
When lost we were this harbor did we find
and never since have spied the shores of Crete.
It struck me so to see you come our way
and in my zeal I fear my tongue did slip.
But never would I wish you cast away
and doomed to our mistfortune’s fellowship

                  VICTOR
Not so! Your welcome warms me, gentle kin.
I have indeed been cast from fortune’s wing.
If that should lead me to such gentlemen,
I’ll take the fellowship to ease the sting.

                  IPHICLES
I’m Iphicles, your servant sir, by oath
and this, my son Iolaus, bids you well.
In trying times you’ll come to trust us both
while all of us must face Ulysses’ spell.

                  IOLAUS
      (laughs)
Poseidon’s wrath is not what binds us thus,
nor do the seas prevent our safe return.
The trouble is, the world’s forgotten us
and you as well, I fear you’ll come to learn.

                  VICTOR
Your pardon grant me, sirs, I beg thee so.
Should I have known thee from some storied song?
I fear that I have lost what I should know
and pray that I should find it ere too long.

                  IOLAUS
Offense has not been offered or inferred,
No pardon shall be offered in its stead,
No song can be forgot that was not heard,
No words forgot that no one ever said.
But once we were among the storied few,
But since the tales have left us from the page,
And once forgot, then no one ever knew,
And what may live that need not ever age?

                  VICTOR
I prithee sirs to share with me your tales
that I remember thee upon my leave.
If ever homeward winds should fill my sails
I’ll sing of thee to all who will believe.

                  IOLAUS
      (pleased)
Once more well met! Such kindness for the cursed!
My father by his honor should go first.

                  IPHICLES
My thanks, my son, and you, good-mannered sir.
To grant me leave to still believe myself.
That such discovery may yet occur
for undiscovered volumes on the shelf.

My brother was the offspring of the storm,
from lightning and the flesh both intertwined.
A god of men who walked in mortal form
while I, the son of man, was left behind.
From birth he was a hero brave and strong,
His infant strength withstood the serpent’s coil.
On Earth all ears would hear his noble song,
Immortally rewarding Earthly toil.
In service to my twin I proudly strode,
In service by his side I met my doom,
In battle fought for glory unbestowed,
In battle fell but no one knows to whom.

                  IOLAUS
I served my father’s brother fair and true.
By land and sea I traveled at his side.
For enemies we faced and boldly slew
he gave to me his first unlucky bride.

The hydra sang his song with dying breath
until I sealed its necks with singing fire.
I served his kin beyond the fields of death.
Upon his death ‘twas me who lit the pyre.

So wherefore, then, Iolaus been forgot?
Who served as friend to demigods and kin?
And why should men bestow to him this lot?
Of vanishing to banishment again?
                 

Did not I know the triumphs that he knew?
Did not I earn my fame in Ancient Greece?
Did not I serve upon the Argo too?
Did not I help secure the golden fleece?

                  IPHICLES
But worry not about such things, I pray,
for you have traveled far without repose.
Let’s leave such musings for another day
and find a place to set aside our woes.

                  IOLAUS
Oho! I know of just the place to go!
We’ll take him to the Inn Between the Seas!
That place where souls at rest shall briefly know
before they slip beyond life’s mysteries!

                  IPHICLES
Oh aye, if such distractions should ensnare,
the Inn Between the Seas will weave its web.
For ev’ry patron’s almost legend there
upon those tides of time that fail to ebb.

IOALUS and IPHICLES lead VICTOR through the woods, but find VIRGINIA DARE standing in their path.

                  VIRGINIA
Your pardon, sirs, I must your errand break
and put your revelry to brief delay.
Anon I must your fellow’s favor take.
Allow him later come to you today.

                  IPHICLES
Fair lady, all our favor take at will.
The interruption causes no chagrin.
Such timeless time we’ll find to drink our fill
and, sir, we part but soon will meet again.

                  VICTOR
This parting grieves me greatly, gentle friends.

                  IOLAUS
When next our paths shall cross we’ll make amends.

IOLAUS and VICTOR clasp hands.

Exeunt IOLAUS and IPHICLES.

VICTOR and VIRGINIA DARE walk further into the woods.

                  VICTOR
My lady, may I ask you what’s amiss?
What urgency must call me to your side?
Can such exist in such a place as this?
Where all the laws of time do not abide?

                  VIRGINIA
How quickly you have come to learn that truth,
that time is not a player on this stage.
How fortunate you came here in your youth,
for not another minute will you age.

                  VICTOR
I see no blessing in ametric time.
Such static-animus I must deny.
What use without its tempo is the rhyme?
And what is said to live that will not die?
For what is real when time stands still in space?
Since all of space and time are intertwined?
And do we move if we but run in place?
Or is this all a phantom of the mind?
Why lead me thus away into the wood?
What errand could entreat such swift reply?
If nothing here shall matter as it should?
What matters once all matter’s gone awry?

                  VIRGINIA
But matter is the matter now at hand.
This island is as real as moon and sun.
Can not you trust the ground on which you stand?
You’ll come to trust it best before we’re done.
The island stalls not all of time’s attack.
While time may pass it passes passively.
The tempus squall that holds the clock-hand back
can set aright its flight quite easily.
In titan’s thrall we crawl upon his back,
marooned upon the hump that crests the sea.
Should titan fall then all would fade to black.
That titan calls for audience with thee.

VICTOR and VIRGINIA DARE come to a stream. They approach BRUCE and BRAUTIGAN.  BRUCE leans on a tree. BRAUTIGAN sits by the stream with his bare feet in the water.

                  BRUCE
My soul, here comes the fair Virginia Dare!
And some new suitor come to us of late.
If fair to ask, how fares the lady fair?
How fares this fair young man who shares your fate?

                  VICTOR
How fare you, sirs? I’ve not the pleasure yet.

                  VIRGINIA
What mischief have you wrought since last we met?
                  
                  BRUCE
Is it not clear? I’m hunting boar and quail.

                  BRAUTIGAN
Not me, my dear! I’ve trout fish by the tail!

                  VIRGINIA
      (to BRUCE)
How keen! You lean so stoic on the bole!
An expert huntsman absent of a bow!
      (to BRAUTIGAN)
My my! How sly to fish without a pole!
And slip your quarry’s notice, laying low!

                  BRAUTIGAN
A huntsman short of bow is apropos,
And fishers with no poles no goals dispel,
In woodlands void of game ‘tis rightly so,
In waters without fish, it’s just as well.

                  VIRGINIA
      (to VICTOR)
I give thee Robert Bruce, the Scottish King,
Who fought to free his countrymen from rule,
And Brautigan, his friend and following,
Accomplice to this lord, this lordly fool.

                  VICTOR
Good sirs, I hold you both in high regard!
Your works to me are most distinctly known.
How were you from your just renown disbarred?
I’ll not this grievous apathy condone.

                  BRUCE
      (to BRAUTIGAN; amused)
He says he knows us both!

                  BRAUTIGAN
      (to BRUCE)
Distinctly so!

                  BRUCE
Shall he attest what he profess to know?

                  BRAUTIGAN
      (to VICTOR)
Please suffer me to ask of thee, my lad,
to name the Bruce’s works you best esteem.
If you misspoke, or joke, that’s not so bad.
No trespass will have passed you can’t redeem.

                  VICTOR
Good sir, I can assure I misspoke not.
Nor did profess no less than what I mean.
I can’t explain the fame he never got.
I’ve seen the Bruce upon the silver screen.

                  BRUCE
Aha! And now we taste the bloodied meat!
Mel Gibson’s contribution to my name!
But whose renown is said to be complete
when lies provide the framework for his fame?

I came to claim my throne in faith, I say,
By murder came I to the crown, ‘tis true.
But when exact did I my friend betray?
This Wallace was a man I barely knew.
He left his guard before I took his place
and had no claim or aim to take the throne.
I made John Comyn’s grave before His grace
but Wallace, once he left, I left alone.
So how’s it pass that I should take the blame
for Falkirk where the brave heart nobly cracked?
‘twas Menteith who deserved the traitor’s fame.
So how’s it pass that my name’s so attacked?

                  BRAUTIGAN
You’re blessed in that your name may yet endure
while lesser names have faded from all ken.
As well the recollection be unsure
than slip forever all the minds of men.

                  BRUCE
What good’s remembered if remembered wrong?

                  BRAUTIGAN
Than be a ghost, it’s better be a song.
And better be a ghost than scattered dust,
And better dust than nothing ever born,
The sword that’s never forged may never rust,
What never lived, we find not heart to mourn.
Bemoan you may your given place in time,
But history so rarely gives our due.
You’d rather man recall your real crime?
That man should rightly loathe the real you?
So why should you presume to be maligned?
Who’s ever been remembered right and true?
Just humbly take the role you’ve been assigned
and see yourself the man that others view.

                  BRUCE
If I have sinned then damn me for my faults.
That fate I have not earned, I will not take.
What good’s salvation won if it be false?
What good’s redemption made for fiction’s sake?
Who needs new views? Who needs humility?
What lesser destiny is there to fear?
“Fuimus” was my bloodline’s legacy.
Our motto simply stated “we were here”.

                  BRAUTIGAN
      (to VICTOR)
Methinks he thinks he ought to linger here.
For misremembered’s not the same as lost.
While almost legends tend to disappear,
the counterfeit must pay a diff’rent cost.
What matters fame where time can find no hold?
Where day will never rise or night will fall?
To say that “we have been” since days of old?
When I don’t think we ever were at all.

                  VICTOR
It seems that strange lament’s a sentence shared.
Can Brautigan be found more genuine?
If counterfeit’s accomplice were ensnared
and brought again to answer Bruce’s sin?

                  BRAUTIGAN
We each of us to almost make our way
for almost all are almost always there.
And almost always in all ways all pay
for someone else’s sins, it’s all most fair.
For always others pay the cost of ours
and so the price we pay’s the same in sum.
The sin of one the soul of all devours,
The end the one has won, to all will come.

But for myself it seems but fair to note
that sound of mind I found the siren’s call.
Of troutfishing and sugar mines I wrote
but wrote I not about those things at all.
Those watermelon shores upon the bank
had drawn my missing fishing boat to land.
‘Twas Bertrand Russell’s Kool-Aid mix I drank
and sank in sugar beaches short of sand.
What author should by living be recalled?
Should not our words our works all supersede?
Are not our thoughts what keep us thus enthralled?
All writ into the blackened strokes we bleed?

Take Ishmael, Sir Melville’s avatar,
Delivered safe though unaccompanied,
Our dear old Stubb found no such guiding star,
That aspect of its author atrophied.
When Queequeg carved for Ishmael his raft,
he bought his fame though came no more to land,
The Pequod more a casket than his craft,
for Ahab’s wrath made graves for every hand.
But Ishmaels do not this island find,
Nor spearmen who ensure their safe return,
Nor madmen whose revenge has left them blind
to perils others face without concern.
Did Ishmael deserve to live alone?
Was he the pious sailor of the lot?
No crimes for mercy’s sake he must atone?
That he forever never be forgot?
Did Queequeg by himself to death succumb?
Was he the only member of her crew?
Drank he alone the murd’rous chalice rum?
Where’s Flask, I ask, Tashtego and Dagoo?
And Ahab, of them all, should so be spared?
That ever shall his name be writ in stone?
To pass for judgment but by grief impaired
and not a heart to match the devil’s own?
And what know we of Melville from these signs?
These shattered fragments scattered from his heart?
What meaning can we guess? And what designs?
If any, from this mirror blown apart?
As well to judge a man based on his dreams,
Forget-me-nots his desp’rate soul has sought.
Is any man in virtue as he seems?
Is any man remembered as he ought?

                  VICTOR
      (to BRUCE and BRAUTIGAN)
I hope for both your sakes--

The ground rumbles beneath them.

                  VIRGINIA
      (interrupting; alarmed)
The titan wakes!

BRUCE
Wise counsel says “be wary”.

                  BRAUTIGAN
Best not tarry!
For once the titan’s roused, the island shakes.

                  BRUCE
For bound he be...

                  BRAUTIGAN
...but not sedentary.

                  VIRGINIA
Away we must to seek the island’s core.
The giant lies inside that aperture.
We’ll plead our case upon the crescent shore
to ease our patron God’s discomfiture

VIRGINIA DARE leads VICTOR away from BRUCE and BRAUTIGAN, deeper into the woods.

                  VICTOR
They’re quite the pair, so debonair and cool,
Which prompts me but to wonder this of you,
For one a King you called, the other Fool,
while I saw no distinction of the two.

                  VIRGINIA
      (amused)
No doubt no diff’rence found you in their air,
discernible discrepancy of mien,
or diff’rences ‘twixt fool and royal heir,
No such disparity was ever seen.
But goodness knows that such as those may do
to while away the idle endless days.
But, left to me, I’ll see one such as you
to represent good fortune’s castaways.
So come and see our tabernacle, sir,
And see our savior chained upon his throne,
And see him ne’er against his shackles stir,
And see his labors weighed against your own.

                  VICTOR
And now not Kings but Gods I come to meet!
Is not this titan’s title so renowned?
Shall I prostrate myself before his feet?
And throw myself upon that hallowed ground?

                  VIRGINIA
I bring you not to worship but to see,
To witness where the Almost Legends rest,
To know the titan’s judgment so that he
can offer you the strength to pass the test.

They exit the wood to find a tide pool surrounded by a crescent-shaped beach.

VICTOR
And just what test is this I should have passed?

In the center of the tide pool crowned by the crescent shore, a giant head crests the surface.

EPIMETHEUS has awakened.

                  EPIMETHEUS
The first of these you face will be your last.

                  VICTOR
      (stunned)
How now? What sorcery is here at work?

                  VIRGINIA
You gaze not on a pool where evils lurk.
      (gestures toward the tide pool)
The axis of the island holds the key,
The Atlas of the Almost here we find,
The object of his curse, obscurity,
From honored annals cast, to depths confined.
And chained beneath this arabesque atoll,
the titan’s head above the surface swell.
The island wreath is moored to shoulders’ wall
aloft against disaster fierce and fell.
His face framed in the center of the pool
is haloed by this hallowed ring of earth.
The titan bound, his arms outstretched to full,
the shore held at a tantalizing berth.
For should he falter in his duty’s call,
for but a brief repose his burden slip,
the island ring succumbs against the squall,
and all shall join below your storm-wrecked ship.

                  VICTOR
      (to EPIMETHEUS)
Apologies for hasty words, my lord!
I hope you judge me not unkindly now.
In ignorance I have your plight ignored.
I’ll gladly recompense, just tell me how.

EPIMETHEUS
This state of Grace is all the pay I’m due,
Your interruption’s introductory,
I’ll see your praise and raise a name to you,
with equal platitudes and flattery:

I’m Epimetheus, the God of Gods,
Think on my words, ye flighty, and despair!
Aloft I hold those broken balustrades
that once did climb that neverending stair.
But nevermore that neverending climb
to steal away from this eternal pause.
And nevermore to shift this paradigm,
And nevermore to serve that noble cause.

                  VICTOR
But how came you to know so ill a fate?
O Blesséd Ancient, offspring of the morn?
How could the gods so cruelly remonstrate?
Did not you make your mark ere they were born?

                  EPIMETHEUS
Though older than the gods, I’m no more wise,
but neither will nor pride have silenced me.
This sea of tears cascading from my eyes
has claimed and shamed me justifiably.
I gave the ancient beasts their strength and speed,
My brother would inspect each offering.
In retrospect I met each creature’s need
but precious man I gave not anything.
My brother meant to fix my oversight,
stole Vulcan’s craft, alas, to offer them.
My brother sinned for men to mend the slight
and Zeus’ wrath, alas, was granted him.
I do but tell of crimes committed thus,
Committed not by me but for my sake,
The oversight of Epimetheus
was more than his dear brother’s heart could take.

In sequel to this farce, my greater sin,
The trials that I faced had just begun,
For Zeus’ wrath had not yet to begin
its sins to his creation grievous done.
I taught not man of timber-work or brick,
Nor gave to him the secrets of the muse,
But managed through it all a final trick,
At last I gave to man his lasting dues.
For Zeus to me a bride from Heavens sent,
And in her beauty’s flame my heart so fanned,
Her poisoned jar unsealed at my consent,
Pandora’s box unlocked at my command.
And then I gave at last to men their gift,
The power of their secret shadow-soul,
That flesh and wicked spirits set adrift
should join to make his dear creation whole.

                  VIRGINIA
The cargo of her jar was not all loosed.

                  EPIMETHEUS
      (amused)
One treasure still inside was not produced.
For hope remained as ever locked away.
And never has it surfaced to this day.

                  VICTOR
So why’s this titan drowned in tears of shame
if hopelessness unchecked should so amuse?
To weep your brother shouldering the blame
for robbing men their rightly offered dues?
Or weep you so upon your own account?
For all these lavish miseries you’ve bought?
These punishments do not to much amount
except to mark a hollow afterthought.

                  EPIMETHEUS
An afterthought’s a fitting mark for me,
For hindsight is the skill I best project.
For forethought was my twin’s ability,
So well-intentioned, yet so circumspect.
But spared we not poor man his promised end,
For industry was offspring to the flame,
Deformed in ways I cannot comprehend,
but man just flat refused to take the blame.

                  VICTOR
Why hate you men so much to taunt us thus?

EPIMETHEUS
If not for man, all lands belong to us.
      (acquiesces)
I hate not man, nor wish to cause him pain.
For he may lose but we stand not to gain.

Yet while you stand rebuffed in righteous rage,
my brother lies tormented on the stone.
A single player on that lonely stage,
while man be lost, the titan’s left alone.
And while he sacrificed eternity
to recompense my oversight to you,
what man has ever sought to set him free
and give Prometheus his lasting due?

                  VICTOR
But there’s an even greater oversight,
That now on looking back you miss it still!
We can that sentence simply overwrite
with cunningly repurposed raptor-quill!
Has not your brother’s freedom been achieved?
Did not his efforts leave his name renowned?
For what is real but what’s to be believed?
The titan by the poet is unbound!
For while his liver fed the raptor’s wrath,
a cunning thief plucked out a single plume,
and mapped for him in verse a clever path
that cunningly reversed the titan’s doom.
                 
EPIMETHEUS
And now that doom belongs to us instead.
Belief belies the verdict of the King.
Those words were writ with ink the eagle bled
but not a bird secures our suffering.
While he be freed by man’s acknowledgement,
Our punishment’s to be in shadows cast,
So how can we escape imprisonment
when banished to the long-forgotten past?

But no, I know of no end more deserved
than languishing outside the mortal plane.
I am in static apathy preserved
and none hate me, or triumph from my pain.
No Heracles shall slay my captor now,
Unless indeed it’s me he comes to slay,
No poetry my liberty allow,
My anonymity is here to stay.

This place I made to rob me of my name,
My soul to rest to rid me of my shame.

                  VICTOR
If I’ll not take the test, to ease your heart?

                  EPIMETHEUS
Decline my welcome, guest, and please depart.

VIRGINIA
But how may he depart while we remain?
What grants him leave to just repatriate
before the world has sung his last refrain?
Does not he share with us our very fate?

                  EPIMETHEUS
Methinks your friend’s arrival here askance,
Unlike the sorrowed souls you walk among,
And so believe he is but here by chance,
And so may leave before his deeds are sung.

                        VICTOR
I thank thee for thy leave to leave thy Grace,
But frankly I’m not seeking such release.
I find I’m disinclined to so efface
myself from these intrigues beyond surcease.

I know not what divine designed it so,
And know I not what tidings it may bring,
But for my part I’ve not the heart to go,
It’s not of my own deeds I’m here to sing.

                  VIRGINIA
To whom do you presume you’ll sing at all,
if fortune brought you here and not mischance?
You’re still marooned with us, if you recall.
Unless you mean to mend that circumstance.

                  VICTOR
My lady, I mean not to mend it yet,
But ere I quit this isle I’ll make amends,
And see that not again will men forget
these heroes and their story when it ends.
I know a stage whereon I’ll wager I
can make these wretched refugees recall
the days before that latent Lorelei
awoke and broke their ships against her wall.
And now they break their fast instead of ships
but still the sirens draw them from the path.
And in between, the sea’s apocalypse,
this endless unrelenting aftermath.
For absent of advancement, age, or growth,
They know no more of hope than of desire,
I’ll stoke the smoke that whispers over both
until once more they roar with Vulcan’s fire.
It’s true we stole the storm’s Olympic flame
and evil then was loosed on all mankind.
At last our rightful boon we’ll now reclaim
by taking back the gift we left behind.
To find the truth I’ll seek our patron’s wife
and trace this to its mythic origin.
I’ll end this endless almost afterlife
by opening Pandora’s box again.

The scene closes with VICTOR marching back into the woods. VIRGINIA DARE reluctantly follows. Satisfied, EPIMETHEUS sinks back into his pool.         

Sean’s bio:
I write poetry, fiction, and genre fiction. My fiction has been printed in the Greek and English language editions of Universe Pathways magazine. I have been featured on "The Joe Milford Poetry Show", where I read selections of my poetry and short fiction. I also host the TV Ate My Dinner podcast. I have published two novels, "Apocalypse Party" and "Unlikely Heroes", on Amazon. I wrote and produced the online audio drama, "Venus Sky Trap". I co-wrote and did the voice work for the Xbox indie game, "Asteroids Do Concern Me". I also have a lovely singing voice and have been known to dance badly when the spirit moves me.

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