Monday, August 19, 2013

To Darkness, To Perfect Sight

There was a time when we were thrilled
to not know whether the universe would
collapse or go on forever. The uncertainty
was exquisite, with notes of amber, sage, 
sweetgrass, early summer honeysuckle nectar,
tangerine, smoke, and pine needles dripping
rain from who knows what ocean. And so on.

And then we lost ourselves in cognitive dissonance.
In carbon dating and the ten-year plan. It takes
spectacular death to take one back to the realm of
unknown asteroids and the other side of the black
hole you wish to name after all your grandchildren's
grandchildren and their children. A blacked-out sky
and a neighborhood blackout to finally hear the
movement of these particles of air you swore you
could see secretly singing when you were small.

It's almost unbearable, this rush of quiet that besieges
your slight body as you first break through the skin of
space, and then the loudest sound coming out from
your heart, that roar that surrounded you in the galaxy
inside your mother. And here is where you go mad
with love for the infinite dark, where you finally
want to live on and on, never knowing everything,
because time is no longer your country, and you're
no longer a stranger in this everlasting house.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

What would the past say?

Cliff Grego : Study in Pizzicato .

It would say that it
does not mock you.

The past is always sober
in its gaze. The past would

say that you have lived, that you
never knew how many trees were

planted in your honor. It would say that
your backbreaking work was thwarted only 

as in a Noh play, as in a surface war; air between
the motions of force set against you, your fight what

built your muscles into grace that became dance that became
a sword that cut precisely. That could winnow the grain in a single

motion, that could slice a mountain from top to hollow and send its
halves rolling into the sea. It would say that even now you are unaware

of how you appear to the unseen world, how the arc of your life is pages,
pages longer than any schedule you had mapped out, any diary of your failure.

It would tell you things you know nothing about; it would bring up the precious
scrolls in jars you left in caves and ran from. The past would say it knows you

better than you begin to imagine you know it. It would trace those lines on
your body with a blinding needle till you saw pictures emerge that would

throttle your regret without mercy. It would call you out—crescendo
of beats rising with the tension—and you’d have nothing left to

say so that you’d finally hear the single string plucked that
would give the answer for you. It would tell you what

was stored in caverns as you squandered your
poverty, thinking it gold you threw away. It

would say, raising its voice, that it does
not know what you’re talking about

when you say waste. It would say
it cannot feel sorry for you, you

who rides the wind without
knowing your own wings.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Escape Artist in Reverse

Royce Bair : Iron Rod Art

The landscape you run from is not desert, not blue hills, not
jail cell, not electric barbed-wire fence; it is within. Where your
hunger brawls at night, paper for supper doing nothing but make you
dream of tractors that fly, helicopters digging tunnels to China. Or
the other side of the Black Plague, where the sick get well in droves.

It is where you don’t want to go. Where your father fails to come home
again, take you fishing, watch you say three lines in the school play,
make you put on socks before you put your cowboy boots on. It’s where
fire smolders tire rubber in the barn, where someone you love presses a
gun barrel to the vein on your temple, pulsing syncopated heartbeat.
You have to go there. There is no parole till you do.

And when you finally decide to do the fast, to let God be your mother’s
brother who takes you to the wilderness to wait for the vision that will
name you, you’ll still want to run. But this time your hunger will be
the merciful handcuffs with the lock you can’t pick, the prison jumpsuit
you can’t slip out from—if only because it wants you to live. Your heart
will grow legs instead and take you, plodding, even, to the center of that
black hole that whirrs in a roar, as it did in your mother’s womb, when
you first thought to steal in order to live. And if you do fall—relinquish
to gravity with tears and loud cries like those of the Son of Man.

You’ll finally see around you the translucent house you live in that
flies silent over the city in the hills, where your true home hides from
you now in its shyness. Your thirst will wrap its arms around you  
in a braid of safety, risk, and safety you can never escapetill you 
drink what you think is a mirage of water guarded by a desert 
lion. Your healing’s on the other side of time, that is to say, now.

Now to make sure every drop of this bitter water’s not wasted,
the poison brine making alchemy in the maze of your intestines.  
It will be your oldest sorrow that covers you till this sandstorm, 
otherwise deadly, passes over in a terrible shifting of terrain. 
It will be your oldest pain that rocks you to sleep, this dark night 
no blazing rock in the sky reaches out to turn the waterfall gold.

The strange thing is, when you wake in the holy morning, 
having only 
slept (and slept poorly) it’s your skin—your skin!—that will be gold and new.