Zeno’s remorse

Afternoon sunlight slants obliquely like my metaphors
It mutates an orange into a tortoise which
Crawls along the Earth’s circumference
Smoke rings undulate and rise to the ceiling
To become clouds invisible and marauding
Cows meander home along well-worn pastures
Their shadows alarming and baffling
Trapping your missing silhouette

What is the half-life of grief?
No matter — after noon time is arbitrary
If the hare has to cross half the distance
Before it can get to its destination then
It follows that it will never get there
As it struggles to complete each half of
Each half of each half and
It follows that the tortoise is at risk for
Getting there first
But only if the weight that it carries is
Less than or equal to a single planet

I wrote this for dVerse Poets Pub’s Thursday Meeting at the Bar, where “atmosphere” is the idea of the day. With any luck I have succeeded in evoking mournful and perhaps even menacing atmosphere through the use of adjectives and some oblique references. See you at the Pub.



  1. i think you did well…esp. in the second part, the hopelessness and heavy heart stuck out for me…after noon time is arbitrary…the each half of each half part…very effective too…some great images as well..

  2. oh this is wicked good…i like it slant like your metaphors…becomes a tortoise…the weight less equal than a single planet…i def get the struggle and the burden…your mid sentence half life or grief gives it a nice anchor to spin around….giving it more definition…very cool piece….

    1. Thanks, Brian, you are always so good at putting rationale behind my words, and giving me the chance to recognize it in retrospect. Thank you.

  3. “What is the half-life of grief? No matter…” I love how you ask such a profoundly heart punching question, and then give us a good dose of realism. I enjoyed this.

  4. Your word choices and the pacing is heavy and mournful and half-life grief really struck since I’m in my middle years. These years are reality check. Live the life you want because you’re likely past the half-way mark.

    1. LaTonya, just found your comment in my spam folder — dammit! Thanks so much, and I totally get what you are saying — these years are a wake-up call.

  5. I like this line: half-life of grief?

    For me, you described time so well here:

    As it struggles to complete each half of
    Each half of each half

    Have a lovely day 🙂

  6. On a personal level I immensely enjoyed your conceit, using Achilles and the tortoise as a metaphor for grief, the mensuration and inevitability of loss. Your diction especially words like obliquely, undulate, marauding and meander, all add to the atmosphere of loss and confusion. Is death, like Zeno’s paradoxes a matter of calculus (solvable) or metaphysics (an infinite unknowable)? I think you effectively use the repetition of half to convey the circling of mourning in the second stanza. Thank you very much for joining the prompt.

    1. Anna, thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. I wondered is substituting hare for Achilles might offend some purists, but hopefully it did not. I am of the latter camp that death is something that should be left to the imagination and not to science. Science should stick to prolonging and improving life. Thank you again both for the prompt and the comment.

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