In history, there was an unusual bird
Phoenix was he called by name
Who never heard nor had learned
That life and death are not the same.
He would place pyres for his demise
Burn himself while he was yet alive
And from there he would arise
Renewed in youth, to again live and die.
Mankind considers him a mere myth
And not listening to the tales
They hold no offerings at the mastabah,
Where Phoenix now dwells.
By ignoring him, mankind is doomed to repeat his fate
To grow in thought, intelligence, and dreams
And have all that he did create
Float away in ashes on slow streams.
Unlike the Phoenix, however, man has hope
That he will remember the destruction he wrought
And in the future be able to cope
In order to stop what fate demands be brought
So that someday he might be praised
For the peace and intelligence he has raised.
February 21, 1987
This is another poem I wrote for an English class in high school, during my Sophomore year. We were reading Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, and had to write a picture poem based on one of the themes of the book. It mentions salamanders and the phoenix (renewal and rebirth), so I went with the phoenix.
I can’t draw a stick figure right, even with the aid of a ruler and a template to follow, so I had my younger brother draw the outline of a phoenix on a piece of paper in pencil. I wrote the words to this poem over it so they would be in the shape of the phoenix, half in red ink and half in black. It looked pretty good too!
The most common comment I get on this poem is “mastabah doesn’t rhyme with myth.” I know that… now. The dictionary I looked it up in at the time had two pronunciations listed for it, and the second one was mas-ta-beh. For whatever reason, I thought “myth”… “beh” – it works! (Clearly it doesn’t!) Oh well! I could change the wording, but I like the poem as it is, along with the memories it evokes for me. Sometimes fixing things just makes them worse. It’s a cute poem from my childhood, mistakes and all.