Vanitas

by Stephen Ellams


Life’s toil is an illusion
Conjured by its own ego
So saith the preacher
In Ecclesiasties
Turn your trenchant eyes inwards

A well-worn truism
Late father in the mirror
Once bitten by a lizard
The brow becomes furrowed
Tongue long-past kissing

This monocratic composition
Stretched skull on the canvas
Is my future, no question
Heed the crucifix half-hidden
The broken string of discord

No spiritual harmony
For this sullen northern taper
Listless, one-third and waning
Silently contemplating
The futility of it all

* * *

Disciples of Galileo
Assayers of Earth and Heaven
Fusing light and lens together
Your exposures are nothing more
Than an optical illusion

A godless inquisition
Want of a legacy
Held in deep hypostasis
Delving into the depths
Of the whole of creation

* * *

Swayers of the universe
Weighing sense of self-worth
Against auriferous riches
An infernal fate awaits you
In Dante’s fourth circle

Where the scales of avarice
Are poised with closed fists
And prodigal surfeit
Neither destined to win
Nor acquire a conscience

* * *

Mass consumers of pleasure
Chasing sweet nectar highs
In the garden of Bacchus
That chalice of unbridled lust
Is laced with a poison

The betrayal of love itself
Lipstick traces of selfishness
On the quest for a soulmate
Someone with whom you can connect
In this world and the next one

* * *

Senescent mortal flesh
Our precious fragile lives
Are cumulative and fleeting
The hourglass obeys gravity
Its sand is always seeping

Rumination will not help you
Bubbles are merely brevity
All that flowers must decay
And even quietus itself
Is just another vanity

* * *

A message of transcendence
For skeptical sinners
Only eternal truth matters
All shall crave resurrection
Just as the soul rises

The sum of human achievement
Pales into insignificance
Along with poetic discourse
When death is the only certainty
God is forced into one’s thoughts

 

The Ambassadors
by Hans Holbein the Younger (1533)


Copyright © 2015 by Stephen Ellams

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