Poetic Influence No. 2: “An Eternity”

        Archibald MacLeish’s poem “An Eternity” heavily influenced my obsession with time, and the idea that the present is all that we ever get.  I addressed this concept throughout my entire collection of poetry, and specifically in my poem “The Present.”  Like MacLeish, I see the past and future as realms only reachable through the present, or now.  Without this moment, there can be no past, or future.  That being the case, both past and future flow from the ever progressing present.  Like holograms projected from the present, the past and future both exist and do not exist at the same time.  Here is how MacLeish delves into the topic:

An Eternity

by Archibald MacLeish

There is no dusk to be,
There is no dawn that was,
Only there’s now, and now,
And the wind in the grass.

Days I remember of
Now in my heart, are now;
Days that I dream will bloom
White peach bough.

Dying shall never be
Now in the windy grass;
Now under shooken leaves
Death never was.

        One of the great aspects of poetry is that like art, it can be interpreted multiple ways.  I see this poem as dealing with time, and the present, and containing a seize the day element.  Others, though, may see a poem wrestling with faith and rational comprehension.  In the second scenario, MacLeish’s poem may relate more to my poem “The Journey Concludes…” than to “The Present.”  Just like beauty, though, interpretation is in the eye of the beholder….


Photo by Elizabeth McCullough

The Journey Continues…

The sky was an ominous charcoal color and
Smoke filled my lungs, as I set out to climb
A rocky peak with close companions.

The eve of another journey was at hand.
So we had gathered one last time,
To share paths in a dusty land.

The ascent would be the crux
Of our history together;
Though, no one knew it at the time.

I was already searching for a new path,
So I walked slowly and lagged behind.
One by one, my companions left me.

Soon, only my younger brother remained.
He wanted to proceed, but was obligated to stay.
Eventually, even he disappeared into the smoky air.

My companions all reached the summit that day.
I, was the only one that did not.
It was not my mountain to climb.

Many years have passed since that day,
And we have all gone our separate ways.
Each searching for our own mountains to climb.

Looking back, I wish I had reached that rocky peak.
Mountain climbing is hard work,
And is not meant to be done alone.

by Cody McCullough

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Photo by Cody McCullough

The Society of Inimitable Livers

After the last great feast,
Dionysus marched out of Alexandria
Leaving a Gladius and an asp.

Years later, he marched into
The great new republic,
And the feast began anew.

Once again citizens seized life,
And celebrated with grandeur and spectacle
Like the sun would not rise the following day.

Again, Dionysus grows restless
As resources dwindle and the party wanes
He prepares to depart leaving a choice.

Continue to feast and accept the Gladius and asp,
Or begin to conserve and hope for survival.
As the music fades, the choice is in our hands.

by Cody McCullough

The Lost Children

we are all

we did not

the greatest

our gift was not

now we

all can not

it is not the

failure is our

our spirits

give up they

I say

My life is in my

I will not let them

by Cody McCullough


Photo by Elizabeth McCullough


Faces are

Sometimes clear,
Other times obscure.

Their judgment is

I try to block
Their view.

But I fear,
They see through.

Seeking privacy,
I timidly hide.

Until I let go,
They will stare.

by Cody McCullough

Aristotle’s Absence

Extremists are everywhere.
Their exaggerated truths,
Moving closer to reality.

Every facet of our lives,
Including our families,
Is vulnerable to infiltration.

The world is black and white,
They tell us,
There are no shades of gray.

The Doctrine of the Mean
Is part of the past, they say,
And should be forgotten.

Finding the sensible middle,
Between two extremes,
Is no longer our task.

Instead we are told
We must pick a side,
Or we cannot belong.

Excess and deficiency, though,
Are no place to call home.
I search for virtue instead.

by Cody McCullough

Mēdén Ágan

A new age is dawning,
We are ushering it in.

Change is inevitable,
And everywhere.

The past has become,
Forsaken, and forgotten.

The present and future,
Are all that matter.

The question at hand:
Where do we go from here?

But amnesia,
Now grips the land.

Into the wilderness,
We march ahead.

The past was archaic,
And imperfect.

But without it,
Where would we be?

The question is now:
Do we reinvent, or redirect?

Whatever we choose,
Let’s not forget Apollo’s advice.

by Cody McCullough

Fantasy Worlds

We all lack something,
No one is perfect.

Some overcompensate,
Others surrender.

Either way,
There is an escape.

Fantasy worlds,
Surround us.

Like secret passageways,
To unearthly dimensions.

They mold to our,
Porous souls.

With a warm embrace
That tickles our spine.

And satisfies,
Our innermost desires.

In moderation,
They lessen life’s burdens.

Overly indulged,
The warm embrace morphs.

Like a boa constrictor,
It grips tightly.

Until we are hopelessly,
Locked within its embrace.

by Cody McCullough


There is no greater
Purpose, and burden,
Than family.

Some abandon
This cause, because
It may bring pain.

Others devote all
To their family,
Only to miss the point.

How can one express
A devoted love
That makes the soul weep?

The fear of losing
Such an important gift
Is unbearable.

The weak turn away
To avoid uncomfortable

The strong, though,
Live each day
To the fullest.

The future is not
Certain, but the present
Is too precious to abandon.

by Cody McCullough

Amongst the Cosmos

Dark, cold, and incomprehensibly large,
The universe is ever expanding.

With billions of galaxies,
Floating throughout its expanse.

Shaped into peculiar clusters,
These giant systems spin through all existence.

A supermassive black hole at their center,
Holding millions, if not trillions, of stars together.

Within this enormity,
Solar systems etch out their domain.

Many in unforgiving, if not treacherous,
Regions of space and time.

On the edge of a galactic spiral arm,
One star found a mostly forgiving place.

Along with seven silent brothers and sisters,
Our blue and green world circles it.

Like a needle in a nearly infinite haystack,
We lie hidden amongst the cosmos.

Are we a fluke, a miracle, or one of many?
We may never know.

Regardless, we should respect this place.
It is our only home, and may be the only one.

by Cody McCullough