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Sisyphus's Joy

Sisyphus's Joy

by Michael Gilbert
Sisyphus's Joy presents a collection of free-verse poems created to elucidate the conscious and unconscious processes associated with the loss of love. The poetry mirrors the mythical character of Sisyphus and his attempt to cope with an inescapable fate while struggling to derive some meaning from his experience. The collection is divided into three sections,


Sisyphus's Joy presents a collection of free-verse poems created to elucidate the conscious and unconscious processes associated with the loss of love. The poetry mirrors the mythical character of Sisyphus and his attempt to cope with an inescapable fate while struggling to derive some meaning from his experience. The collection is divided into three sections, each of which focuses on a specific part of Sisyphus's eternal struggle: the ascent, descent, and joy. Optimism becomes the intended mindset, even when in the throes of dismal circumstances.

Product Details

iUniverse, Incorporated
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
0.17(w) x 6.00(h) x 9.00(d)

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Read an Excerpt

Sisyphus's Joy

By Michael Gilbert

iUniverse, Inc.

Copyright © 2011 Michael Gilbert
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4620-1913-7

Chapter One

    The Answer

    Fixed gaze from across the table,
    Her mouth parts as she bites her lower lip.
    Hazy smoke obscures intentions.
    Lifetimes have come and gone since I last saw her.
    Bitterness has replaced many of those flowered memories.
    Dim lights cast shadows as reminders.
    Her eyes fall away; fingers tug at her hair.
    Drinks are poured and drunk without interruption.
    She reminds me of how vulnerable everyone is.

    Emotions kept buried inside,
    A winless standoff persists.
    Indefinable syllables pass by unnoticed.
    All time is a wilting flower, motionless in an empty pot.
    A flick from her lighter causes a brief spark.
    She fiddles with her purse until a cigarette is procured.
    Her tongue touches the filter as the cotton clings to her lips,
    Dangling, waiting to be destroyed for momentary bliss.
    She lights the tip and tenderly puffs before rubbing her cheek.

    Nobody will ever find a definitive truth.
    My hands no longer belong comfortably in plain sight.
    Overcome with nostalgia, a cloak of insecurity drapes.
    Her eyes meet mine again as she smokes discreetly.
    Unrecognizable familiarity persists as steamed breath in the cold.
    Her leg vibrates the table with nervous shudders.

    I look away forever; no use denying what isn't there.
    She continues following my every movement with devoted attention.
    Won't we ever give up on who we once were?
    My eyes return for another chance.
    She exhales a cloud to hide behind.
    Eyes peer through, attempting to find a reply.
    Barely visible, her answer rolls down her cheek.

    After the Breakup

    Distorted afterglow
    Stares blankly with rippled expression.
    Tears stream from reddened eyes,
    Knuckles white with tension.
    Skinny legs buckle at the knee.
    Sadness keeps her up at night.
    No one sees her smeared mascara.
    Sweat glistens on her brow.
    She dials his number again,
    Fingers shake feebly.
    Without certainty, she abandons the call,
    Not wanting to hear his voice
    Or feel his answer.
    It's so much easier to weep alone,
    Out of sight of those she loves.
    An empty wine glass sits stained on the table.
    Wrinkled cigarette packages wait to be discarded.
    Outside her window a garden blooms,
    Tomorrow's promise of a new beginning.

    Last Night

    Moonlight silhouettes her in bed,
    Slender fingers resting next to her face,
    Black hair draped over exposed cheek,
    A subtle shift and deep breath:
    Memories shroud the moment.
    Pasts no longer hidden,
    Flowers in a glass,
    Rootless stoop,
    Photographs in frames:

    Everything is new,
    Drawn in
    Dawn's cleansing dew.
    Futures reappear, diverged.
    Eyes no longer closed,
    Sunlight illuminates distance.
    A series of short breaths,
    Wrinkled sheets remain unmade:
    Becoming never tasted so bitter.

    Moving On

    It started with a sigh.
    The whole episode felt familiar,
    As if it had already been lived.
    Setting wasn't important,
    Though the stale aroma
    Ushered in feelings of age and withered hope.

    Her eyes told the story
    Her voice failed to convey.
    Looking down at her feet,
    My heart followed her descending glance.
    Better to get it over.
    With stillness accompanying,
    Her hair swaying with the breeze.

    There was a moment when she looked up.
    Transfixed, we both remembered a better time
    When joy was found on faces
    And felt by fingertip touches.
    Those times were gone, though.
    Concern written in her fidgeting hands,
    Trepidation over understanding that we both knew.

    Hearts have made fools of us all.
    There's no telling what will become of any of us.
    We smile, not knowing.
    Blind ambition drives those
    Beautiful souls who dare to dream.

    Sucked into the blackened tunnel,
    Only lights flicker last hopes.
    Seething grimness awaits our return;
    I may never go back.


    Her touch escapes me,
    A breath I no longer feel.
    Only a reminiscence of Saturday afternoons
    Clutching her hand during the torrents
    Of a spring thunderstorm.
    Puddles dimple like her cheeks.
    A smile after reminding me we're both new.
    The full moon hung in the sky.
    Night air blew through her opened window.
    Her toes touched my leg tenderly that moment.
    An instant became an eternity of happiness
    No longer fathomed.

    Drunkard's Demise

    His stomach bleeds,
    Though he continues to sip.
    His head bent in silent prayer
    The waitress brings another.
    Foam rising, then solemn.
    Tranquility goes down smoothly.
    His lips mouth the words,
    Noise drowns the syllables.
    Blood fills the cavity,
    Heart beating faster.
    Another sip and a burn.
    Eyes stare, piercing others.
    His lips curl, one more down.
    Smoke passes by.
    Glass clinks against the wooden table.
    Bring on another round.
    Patrons glare in wonder.
    He sees no one but his muse, dancing effortlessly in the corner.
    Shrouded mystery unfolds.
    Beneath the exterior rests death.
    Burning, burning, curdling inner will.
    Supplication mixed with alcoholic haze.
    Stool scratching the floor.
    Blood causes a cough.
    Music passes by his ears.
    "Another, please. Make it two."
    Gone and back again.
    He sees his reflection golden,
    Soon to disappear.
    Sinister gold's loving grip,
    Bless this soul and cleanse.
    Eyes refocus, seeing truth.
    Time passes; still, blood pumps.
    Pupils dilate, light blinds.
    Vertigo bliss blankets.

    "Another, and hurry."
    Head hits the table.
    An impervious red puddle gathers.
    Moistness does nothing to halt.
    "Mister, are you okay?"
    "Leave me alone!"
    Steps lost in the opposite direction.
    Blood has nowhere to go.
    Head hits the table again,
    This time red spills outward.
    Dancing ceases.


    Requiem of lost loves
    Chanted in hollow space
    Echoes resounding for lifetimes
    Escape is an illusion.

    Candle wax drips
    Flame flickers with uncertainty
    Shadows dance evasively
    Ever so vulnerable.

    A Gospel of times
    Broken and forgotten
    Midst the rubble of yesteryear
    Hymns provide false promises.

    A hope forewarned
    Scorned by all prophets
    Moved by sorrow
    Delight for the unknown.

    Patience and acceptance
    All is the same
    Begin redemption's path
    Love's praise booms low and deep.

    Eternity's folly
    Expositions written in solitude
    Familiar tastes
    From nostalgia's bosom.

    No More

    Benevolence in motion.
    Her heart broke like a window,
    Shards falling to the ground,
    Defenseless against the will of another.

    An echo resounded beyond the shadows
    Clinging to the sidewalks with sentimental haze,
    Memories refusing to decay.
    Purity whispered into the ear of passersby.

    Her concern fills the moment;
    Sorrow is sure to follow,
    Lingering stale aroma for all to inhale—
    Reminders that, despite her beauty
    She will never be free.

    A meadow untouched by the winds of change,
    Petrified and buried from view;
    Without reason or direction,
    She's lost to the world and me.

    Deadly Doldrums

    Those deadly doldrums stole my heart

    Wind-bit stare tore me in two
    That doldrums' hair shone dark and new

    Alone now at last with only one hope

    To never feel again in doldrums' desolation
    Her memory no longer is consolation

    Gone into the dark, once again anew

    Doldrums pulsing deep inside
    Those dreamy doldrums of love reside.

    Forever My Girl

    Light pierces the darkness.
    Train snakes through silently.
    Past the dancing flowers,
    Past the horizon's glow.

    There you'll stand,
    There you'll remain.
    Forever my girl,
    Forever the same.

    I loved you yesterday,
    Like I'll love you tomorrow.
    Past the grass blades bending,
    Past the city lights.

    There you'll stand,
    There you'll remain.
    Forever my girl,
    Forever the same.

    Happiness carries my hope.
    Joy illumines the path.
    Past the blanketing night,
    Past the hopeless fight.

    There you'll stand,
    There you'll remain.
    Forever my girl,
    Forever the same.

    At last, I arrive.
    Heart extended with a smile.
    Past my faults,
    Past your history.

    But you're not there,
    Nowhere in sight.
    Forever my girl,
    Forever my light.

    I'm alone without you near:
    But you're the same,
    Nowhere in sight,
    If only you were my girl tonight ...

    Lucidity: Part I


    Awakened to a torrential storm
    Lent hands tenderly touch
    Visions inundate the mind
    Eternity's mocked paradigm

    Mediation's benevolence shaken
    Fingers clasped securely
    Utopian perseverance sustained
    Grip slowly weakens

    Billowing clouds swallow light
    Presence gradually disappears
    Obsessions synchronized in dreams
    Echoes no one can hear

    Invisible scars from turmoil
    Tainted driving-force propels
    Begging consciousness for grace
    Drifting without direction

    Incoherent motivations
    Rubble left discarded
    Rippled memories reside
    Nothingness summoned

    Whirling, fragmented emotions
    Prophetic warnings neglected
    Clinging apathy smothers
    Conscience considered, then dismissed

    Actions unimpeded by thought
    Regretful daydreams unfulfilled
    Battlefields of hastened forgetfulness
    All ghosts in an unreal existence

    Thrashing beneath the diamond stars
    Left breathless, without familiarity
    Vastness of being consumes
    Ego represses without consolation

    Obsolete existence left unlived
    Armageddon of nostalgia
    Waning of youth's anguish
    Reckless, abandoned sanctity

    Nonsensical ramblings
    Escaped loves flashing
    Remnants vanquish impressions
    Soundless screams permeate every season

    Women clamor to find someone to hold
    Stillness brings about expectations of storms
    Halos are hard to validate
    Breathless preoccupations forsake

    Ever-elusive perfection
    Hearts eventually mend
    Sleepless nights yield wisdom
    Disguised intentions never unearthed


Excerpted from Sisyphus's Joy by Michael Gilbert Copyright © 2011 by Michael Gilbert. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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