Memory, Foreknowledge

Here is the latest selection from my collection, Words Transcending Themselves.

This Earth:

Mud and rock.

 Worms.  Shit.

 Roots probing out like fingers that just found their way into gloves.

 

This earth,

Where the light filters green through dewey leaves and lands on spider webs.

 

This earth, 

Where my boots leave their tracks.

And the frog thrums.  And the mosquito sucks.

And the breeze and the bees carry pollen

 

This earth,

Where the dead baby field mouse 

Feeds the bugs and the microbes and the scavengers.

 

Memory and foreknowledge are the same things here.

Prophecy is history here, and history is prophecy

We grow old and we die and we grow young then.

 

Morning and noon and night.

Summer.  Fall. Winter.  Spring.

Chase.  Pounce. Eat.

Clouds, then rain, then sun,

Moon and sun, waxing moon, waning moon, moon and sun…

 

These cycles,

Fractal themselves. 

Infinite repetitions at every scale imaginable

 

Consider, for example that rain:

Drops came down.  

Lightning split open the sky.

Ripped A fissure to Elsewhere,

A crack in the stuff of existence.

It release the thunder: a roar from some other world.

And then it is silent again.

 

This is the place where stories are born.

This is the womb of myth.

It is the swampy fertile birthing ground of poetry…

 

If I will let this background become my foreground.

If I will submit to the dissolution of  the line between setting and character,

Between theme and plot.

Between me and you.

 

some magic will move through me.

 

A flute looks like such a small thing.

Out of context, you might call it an ugly metal little tube.

But behold the glories that rise up from it.

As the column of air moves up it and through

 

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A Reckoning With the Nature of Silence

This is the first poem in my recently released collection Words Transcending Themselves.  Click the title for more information.  I will be placing several favorites from the book on this blog.

1.

There were no sounds.

 

2.

Your presence is tolerated.

No one will ever tell you that your kind is here to be seen and not heard.

Why make anyone uncomfortable by saying it outloud?

We all know this is, what it is.

 Your presence here will be allowed

But not your participation 

Not your questions.

Or your contributions.

Where is your gratitude for being let into the room at all?

 

3.

And yet.

Anything could happen in the quiet!

lips pursed as if to kiss the air.

Who knows what will come next.

It could be  the thing that finally makes everything make sense.

 

There was an empty place inside.

And the words still echoed in there.

I don’t love you.

I never did love you.

You weren’t enough.

But that was only on the inside that she heard those things.

There were no sounds on the outside.

Everything had already been said.

 

5.

And yet….

Have you ever heard the snow fall onto a lake that hasn’t yet frozen?

A lovely living white noise.

At the edge of hearing.

Or maybe you are only imagining it.

Because now, there is only you.  

In a field with a lake in the winter at night.

It is so quiet here.

 

6.

he saw their eyes heavy with fear and worry.

And he tried to hold back the moan.

It all hurt, though.  

Everything hurt.  

Mostly he was ready for it all to be over

The body blotted out his best intentions

he moaned.

Gasped.  Clutched out for a hand with his wrinkled hand.

Her heart stopped before they touched.

There were no more noises here.

 

7.

And yet!

The first time 

I released my thinking away truly.

Placed it gently on a river like a floating leaf.

And just let it go.

The first time I sat in this True Silence.

I glimpsed myself truly

Just a brief reflection in the river.

Then the breeze came in, and wrinkled the water up.

But I had seen it.

The me behind me.

The observer of the fools parade of thoughts.

 

8.

You think its the worst thing.

When they stick the filthy rags in your mouth

To muffle out the screaming.

 

It’s not though.

The worst is when they offer to  take the gag away 

And you agree to be quiet

Because you have learned your lesson

 

9

And yet!

I might end this right here.

I might say these words and then stop..

Right here.

I might open this

Wide.

 

White space, pure on the page.

A quiet can fall among us and draw us together:

 

 Silence, a curse and a gift

Here, take it.  It is yours.

 

Last Words

Removed, as they were from the garden…

They thought the names arbitrary things.

He laughs at them

Gently.

He shakes a little,

In his body.

In his voice.

 

“Each new thing.”

He says it again.

“Each New Thing.

It reached… within.”

 

He sees in their eyes that they do not understand.  

He stirs the coals in the fire.

His thoughts are a little disobedient, now.  Sometimes.

He tries to line them up again.  

The others all watch respectfully.  Patiently.

He hates that.  A little bit.

 

“That great naming.

It was an act of listening.

It was an act of listening for a name

Which had already been said.

In the Time Before.”

 

Recognition in those beautiful brown eyes?  

Perhaps it was recognition.

Seth was always the sharpest among them.

 

“We have so many words now.

So many that you might lose one for a moment.

That feeling…  When you have lost a word.  

When you are so close that you can taste a word,

But still not find it’s sound…”

 

“That is what it was like.

To look upon The Creations.

And name them.”

 

It is not only Seth who nods now.

The old man knows what he knows.

He knows that this is not sympathy, here.  Now.

He is thankful for that.

 

It inspires him to continue.

He wishes them to know so much.

His time.  After so long.  Is running short now.

He continues.

 

“There was something within me.”

“A name that wished to burst forth from my lips.”

“I tried it on so many things, in my mind.

But it was never time.  Never time.

Never time to say it out loud.”

 

“And so other names erupted out and around it.

I held that name in my heart unsaid.

Until she came.  Your mother came.

But then came our dying time.  Our casting out.

After our time of mourning was through.

I remembered that name within me.

I said it out loud.

And it was her name.”

 

He is lost for a moment.

They are lost for a moment.

Looking in the flames.

Ignoring the smoke.

He does not care about the tear that slides down his dry cheek.

When did he stop caring about things such as this?

 

“It was good to name her Eve.

I would have thought that was the end.

But it was not.

That garden is gone, now.

That time is is gone, now.

It will never return.”

 

A spit-crackle.

They watch him so closely.

This is the thing he hasn’t wanted to tell them for so long.

He does not know what any of this means.

 

“There is still a name.

A single last name within me.

But the time of the naming is done.

Somewhere.

There is a something,

With out a name.  

And there is me.  

With one word extra.”

 

A time.  A timeless time.

Later.

He died in his sleep with a single last gasp.

 

A tender hand.

Reached within him,

Even as he returned to the dust.

It took that unspoken word out of him.

 

And a time.  A timeless time.

Later.

That word?

That word was made flesh.

Torrent

This torrent comes crashing down,

A wild thing from up so high.

Niagra would look with awe at this fall.

 

Here, below.

Mostly we gather on the shore.

And the holy men in their hip waders bring the little cups.

They grimace as they fill them and bring them back to us.

The spray and the run off have soaked them.

They walk slowly.  Slowly to us.  

Apostles and apprentices towel them off solemnly.

There are so many of us here now.

We wait.  And the water is so much of everything.

But the cup is emptied so soon.

 

I do not listen to them as I step into the water.

I discard my clothes and I do not care that they are watching.
I stand beneath the waterfall with my arms stretched out wide.

They make a wide space for me,

As they continue their conveyance to their followers,

Back and forth, back and forth.

Coming To Terms With Her Wild Geese

You do not have to be good

She told me this.  And

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.

 

I did not tell her that I was unsettled by this.

I nodded sagely.  Because that is what I do when I read Mary Oliver.

Even if I am alone in a room.

 

The way that she speaks, as if only to me,

I felt as though I could, in theory, have told her that I was unsettled by this.

But in truth, I nodded sagely, alone in a room.  Unsettled.

 

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

I was not ready to yet begin to chew on these words,

the others were dry in my mouth, still.

 

I do not want to be bad.  Ms. Oliver.  I do not want to be bad.

Do not permit me  amorality.  Because this is what it is.

I have to be good.

 

But!

There was a breath outside the garden.

There was God in me before  exile.

 

What if I didn’t have to be good.

Because I already was.

The soft animal of my body.

Already was.

 

 

 

 

Lost In Translation Version 4: Call it The Director’s Commentary

“The scope of what happened.
With artificial strawberry is salvation.
and antibiotics
And the blood is the aesthetics of luck.”

I do not know what those words mean.
But they come at me with urgency from Google Translate,
As I flipped, back and forth
between English and French, English and Latin, English and Khmer…

The words made sense when it all began.
But they picked up these little errors along the way.
The problem is that we don’t randomly happen toward meaning.
There are so many more ways for a thing to go wrong than right.

Until we are left with artificial strawberry as a kind-of salvation.
Until we are left with antibiotics.
Until our blood itself is the aesthetics of luck.

Whatever that all means.
Until it comes to this.

There is some deja-vu here:
the words, they made sense when it all began…
until it comes to this.