25 Feb 2017

Negotiating Eternity

A meeting—a story
that’s happened before, he says,
but no: she insists.

Their language changes almost as they speak it.
Stem cell, telomere: cloudy words
that mean nothing
and everything
at the same time.
A brilliance of lights,
constant motion dizzying
one generation before becoming
the everyday reality of theirs,
matter of fact, self-perpetuating illusion.

It envelopes.
It propels.

The tunnel narrows.
The singularity no longer has a label.
Every fear coalesces into one,
and it’s ancient,
and it’s perfect:
what’s more terrifying than change?
Death itself is only change,
life to non-life, being to non-being.

A glowing field of diodes
will be their fire in the night,
feeding pixel-seared retinas.
She recalls another story.

Two hard lives, and one made together
that could be called happy.
The wife’s tumour is sudden like a car crash.
The husband, himself a doctor, can do without
the drawn-out prognosis, a speech about chance—
chance in a game rigged from the start.
Both knew a bad hand when they saw one
and when cards should be laid out on the table.
In through the door of an old home, they share
a very particular feeling, to see a good thing
and fear its decay—and that aching, grasping
yearning to keep everything as it is.
The look exchanged is of caring, sadness.
Up in his quiet, quiet study is his doctor’s bag, brown leather
frayed at the edges, coarse, worn pockets holding
glass syringes, vials of morphine.
Autumn’s cusp lets them sit outside
to turn cold, white, still as that empty house,
four glassy eyes set
on something off in the distance that couldn’t be seen.


He asks if an ending has to mean defeat,
and had his own memory vivid like film on screen,
though from where, he couldn’t say.

Beneath the round sun, houses
back out onto dusty long grass
teased by the midday breeze.
A man watches idly as he passes by a girl
digging in the soil, only noticing
the ground begin to give way as she starts to slip
down the emerging hole—like Alice,
he thinks—before pulling her up.
A crowd gathers nervously,
wordlessly. The sun hanging overhead
won’t pierce the misty paleness
the hole looks down into.
Each person there remembers in their own way
that sense of some great dark space
and how so close beneath it seemed to lurk.


A living moment is sufficiently strange,
for some not enough,
for others plenty—or far, far too much.
Eternity would be the ultimate promise.
Perhaps he and she need time to adapt,
but time is just the problem.

From the ledge they perch on together
the city before them takes no shape,
expanding of its own accord.
The vastness that bore them becomes their suffering.
This story plays out in any number of ways
but its ending remains the same.

No diversion resolves such a negotiation.
This battle accepts surrender, but what escapes
understanding could be so kind.
No wrong answer in what follows, no outcome but the fall,
only in countless variations. What’s left is the way there,
to move or be moved, a meeting—
a story that’s happened before.

22 Feb 2017

Later

Oh, there it is:
the chance, opportunity—
lost or taken, can't say.

I have in my mind at this moment
a dozen thoughts deserving pen to paper,
each with a dozen inflections, hows and what ifs
I seem to owe elaboration
in spite of it all.

Self-confidence, irreverent as irrelevant, wallows
in the mud pool miring
a growling ego delusional
with notions of immortality, transcendence,
and whatever sits above mediocrity.
Facing the sky, it eyes
the movements of clouds whose patterns
occasionally form a perfect image
until, in a moment,
all is formless, hopeless.

I heard the method is
non-existent, the process simply one word
placed after another, footsteps along the shore
but for that tide redrawing borderlines,
erasing imprints etched with driftwood
pens to tell little stories
perhaps best left to the ocean of all thought.

To Return

Delved into the dark of pockets
carved of a cliff called existence,
the animal hides out of a hope
fathered by longing.
Fear roams close by
the space scratched out,
but what drove the animal
there is something farther off.

In hiding, the outside and its cold is
shunned, seemingly defeated,
risen above in low places.
Still, unfettered,
unchallenged by such escape,
a stark day remains.

To return can't easily be right, but still
affirms itself with each coming,
and smiling, asks what could still be wrong.
The animal has no answer, and how right
that none’s needed.

Walker, Walking

        You're awake.
    You were sleeping.
You're here now.
Don't stop for long
    and see it all given over to black.
    Go on and move
    under new morning light. Drift
    among the islands
    the waters let rise this time,
    the ones with shores of shapes
    you knew before,
    their green growing with scents
    you knew before.
Go on along the still-red sky
    between the unknowns,
    led shrouded through
    this gallery, a hall of mirrors
    reflecting something less discernible than faces.
    In the images greeting you, in spite
    of stroke and tone informing what,
    why is yours and yours alone.
    This angle at which you stand
    illuminates the moment,
    outlines horizon, and
    that great unnamed.
You searched, too, remember?
    You wandered and found it
    there behind sudden eyes, the other—
    but wait—
    the light can't shine
    above a falling darkness.
Don't let your legs root
    to the ground beneath
    that threatens to swallow such life, such living.
    Keep the only thing that isn't
    lost—the cord you must hold on to,
    a spider's thread to woken places.
    Keep it in your memory until
    there, too, the thief Time takes it from you.
Tightly store in hand as you sink into sleep,
    you sleep,
        you're sleeping.

4 Feb 2017

Masked Doll

Notice the way it broods in the corner, unseen
until that silent moment allows for
a glance, accidental, and then there it is
in all its imperfection.

Each the first and last of our kinds
as we desperately insist, the story spun
is something familiar like found scars
forgetting the fresh wound.

Remember how we came upon it and
paused without a word, but
like children who lift stones
stare at the spider underneath,
and the spider seems to look back.

Ancient hurts uncoil, begin to entwine
beneath the place the meeting happened.
What eventually surfaces is
all those little pieces collected,
and strange little pieces, too,
things left behind in fastnesses.

No sense in understanding
what it is, how it came to be.
The thing scorns whys and hows,
shatters intention’s carefully lain brick
and all desire for green reaches
out of earth untested, stony,
barren places long condemned.

What was it like before
all this? There are only pebbles of memory
to tell that life was ever any different.
This being is made of towers
of these, rock with no promise to hold,
and that burnt-in image of a dark figure
wielding faces to fend against its keepers
as if to hide were safety enough.

3 Feb 2017

Ride

Revolutions begin
slowly but surely,
and quietly before
    the clunk-clink in anticipation
    of the hill whose crest is
        breathless relief, reliable
        as its ha, hu satisfaction.
        In among this is the taste
        of staling asphalt, and krrt over loose stones;
        hwm-hwm, traffic weave,
        over drain and hole, b-t-t
        and schleu through wet leaves, twigs.
    In turn, the ch-t-chk invites the wind
    to drown all sound but hwszzz,
    a spin, a sigh of excited contentment.
    A rush of blood to the heart
of this experience, and suddenly is seen
only the road—only the road,
the way, routes to anywheres and wherevers,
one among many comings and goings—
and isn’t it strange?
I checked my pockets.
I forgot my problems at home.