Terra Incognita

POETRY FORMAT, 23 Dec 2019

Edward Curtin – TRANSCEND Media Service


Sitting dark and tight
In crepuscular light,
You pass the shuttered houses
That line the half-lit streets,
The weekend retreats
Of absent urbanites, their country dreams
That only money can redeem
Or so it seems to them when counting
Out their lives in latte spoons.

An evening walk. No smells
Of steaks in passageways.
No tinkling of a glass, no laugh
That might suggest a face
Could press against a pane
To see who might be passing.
The only sign of life the breeze,
The falling leaves, the silent sound
Of the moon’s bright weeping.

You wipe your eyes and ask,
What is this aching for a home
That can’t be bought or found?
Why did Odysseus try to dodge the war,
The Prodigal Son come back, the young
Abandoned girl go far away in search
Of shelter in a meditative secret sound
To quell the lonely panic in her soul?
Such answers empty houses never told.


You stretch your neck and watch
Them rise and sail across the sky.
You laugh and wonder where they’re heading,
What they mean by going to eternal rest.

Your mother used to make you guess
At what you really could not say.
“Now that you’ve made your home
In Massachusetts longer than with us,
Where do you say that you are from?”

I never thought to answer her
That what I’ve always wondered
Is where I’m going,
Not from whence I sprung.

How could I tell my dying mother,
Who would beg me not to let her go
Into the undiscovered country that she dreaded,
That all the dwellings that I saw were dreams
And all the people merely dreamers,
Not a bit like where her hope was headed.

It’s hard to say I’ll ever stop
Walking down streets that lead
To streets that weave past vacant houses
On silent nights in crepuscular light.

How do you say we all are wanderers now,
Homeless modern minds exiled from time,
Thinking that God has left us banished here,
But knowing we have not come near
The terra incognita that we’re yearning for?


Edward Curtin is a writer whose work has appeared widely. He is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. Website: Behind the Curtain



This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 23 Dec 2019.

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One Response to “Terra Incognita”

  1. Gary Steven Corseri says:

    Few writers can help us think and feel our way through the tangled pathways and byways of modern life. Ed Curtin is one of the very few.

    Curtin understands poetry the way Coleridge did. Asked to define good prose, Coleridge responded, “words in their best order.” Asked to define good poetry, the master Romantic smiled: “The best words in their best order.”

    “Best words” doesn’t mean a highfalutin vocabulary. Best words are the ones that vibrate in our minds and hearts when we come across them in a particular place in the magic of all the words, meanings and sounds surrounding them.

    Here, in “crepuscular light,” we’re searching, searching and “aching for a home.” It’s a T. S. Eliot kind of wandering and musing, language a la “The Wasteland” or “The Love-Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”–modern humans lost amidst the desecrations of war or in a frivolous society.

    Lost, too, when a wise, beloved parent leaves a wise, beloved son after many years of sharing and caring…. Then we may find ourselves:

    “… wanderers now,
    Homeless modern minds exiled from time,
    Thinking that God has left us banished here…”

    amidst the stars, searching for, “yearning for” the “terra incognita”–the unknown earth, the home, the certainty, belonging.