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Compendium Humanum

(On Rick Rubin's 65th Birthday)

      Occasions sometimes bring

     The hill to the hunter,

     Now ensconced boulderish

     In his true desmene.

     Yet I've encountered this

     Debarked voyageur

     At more than one waystation,

     Caught in the eddies of

     Caustic eyebrows and the gnomish

     Air of Puck turned barrister.

     Truth is, after all, that

     Time incarnate might well

     Have been such an essayist,

     Peninsular appendage on

     The literary corpus.

     It's all a matter of flavor:

     A recipe for roguish traveller

     Seasoned in myriad exotic smokes;

     Parboiled to leach away the

     Sandy leavings of machinery worked

     Too long in services less noble

     Than those commanded to the fool;

     Peppered with the buckshot

     Of ease embraced and scorned;

     And cocooned away to leather in

     The wind that blows higher

     Than keening can rise.

     But squirrel-tailed autumn comes: 

     The wraith of honor condenses

     From its fog and curls on

     The hearth, waiting for sustenance.

     Time for peeking into bindles,

     Cultivating trade beads,

     And wryly offering bargins

     To the ghosts of werewolves past.

     The sage's rewards are too meager

     To be stolen lightly and

     So may be freely wished:

     Peace, a long road, laughter

     Of companionship,

     Sweet waters flowing,

     Slow journeys home,

     A candle on the mountain.

- David W. Mitchell

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