The Big WorldGive me back the big world.
Give me dragonflies, primordial biplanes;
Their flitting air raids filled me with fear and awe.
Let my bed again be a sailing ship.
Turn rooms back to amphitheatres; make these closets caverns,
Evoke epic legends of Carlsbad and Niagara.
Werent there mountains where thunder rained and rain thundered
And voices of ghosts came through the radio?
I want trees that touched Heaven as easily as I did.
And houses next to which the rest of the city
Must have been a façade.
I remember! In the yard trenches were dug and wars were fought.
Who will mourn the lost?
Can I find this world on my knees?
Or maybe on my face?
Because when I stand I find
The world looks so very small.
Our Absentminded OrnithologistOur Absentminded Ornithologist Witnesses the Eschaton
The falcons cant hear Faulkner?
What a queer turn of phrase.
For Im sure, if they could, they wouldnt much care,
And the author must know as little of birds
As they do of him. What do we turn?
Since they first turned their apathy to Behemoth and Leviathan,
The birds will never serve the Beasts of Earth and Sea.
What but an eternity can forge the patience and impatience they bear?
Man bears but sixscore years.
But that things fall apart
Even the falcons know that.
CalypsoMy coldhearted mistress smiles at angst.
Her sparkling face beckons
When mortality jeers.
O dust, become Mud;
Join with me so that I may burn your lungs
And peel your skin.
With fire in my skies let me guide you
To faraway shores,
And unblinkingly watch you from a world of wonders
Or a world of terrors
But a lone breath away.
If you will, ride my waves.
Know my curves.
Feel me heave.
O man, you will know my wrath!
And, I pray, have an answer the next time youre asked
To account what is your life worth?
Shell conclude, as always, with the Sirens offer,
But if you let yourself drown in my ambivalence,
Perhaps this time I will notice yours.
Wherein Home is the Olympus...Wherein Home is the Olympus of our Youth
When I enter this hall full of marvelous stones,
In their faces taste histry, by scent hear the songs
Of a civilization, an altar that flaunts
All the gods of a young man: the statues of nonce,
I will first light a candle and offer a toast,
To the adamant beauty of petrified ghosts;
Close my eyes and be indwelt by glories of old
And defer to consider how now Im made bold
By tyrannical powrs; theyd decline to me grant
Even slightest regard, till the day I would chant
Disingenuous songs in a chorus of farce
While I polished their spears in the temple of Mars.
Then I look on the Gorgons, not yet aged a day,
Though their creased, lithic faces show frightful decay;
Are they tame or more foul, ancient beasts of the Pit,
Since with thunder they fell and the epic was writ?
And the myriad pantheon mock with their frowns
Any life of a man who would doubt their renown
Then I shield my eyes and I grasp for the might
And the wo
Fire 2: Her
I kept my head, as much as one can. That is to say, I turned to my instincts, and my instincts were relatively benign. I breathed, I blinked, I swallowed, I got my camera.
Like a postmodern Charles Whitman I stood, dazed, deliberate and dispassionate, shooting at the terrorized masses below, while my brain waited for the moment when it would be ready to process emotion again. Here, a woman bleeding from the head, there, a rising plume of smoke and dust. Across the way, a car blazing. Snap, snap. Snap.
Six thirty-four, the clock read, when I remembered the one thought, the one feeling, that had the power to turn my peaceful, stuporous madness into a truly dangerous one.
I dont want to talk about her.
I let the camera fall. I gave permission for it to break when it hit the ground. I showed no sympathy as its memories of the day faded to sepia.
I dont have a very good memory, myself.
Fire 1: Alarm
All the most terrible stories start on Tuesday.
It was Tuesday morning.
I dont believe the phenomenon can be fully explained by biology or statistics, how often our bodies wake us just moments before our alarm clocks sound. I was, this particular Tuesday, awoken from a forgotten dream by just such a cryptic intuition. The pre-dawn glow flowed through my window and came to rest upon the clock by my bed, which ticked away unconcerned, as it still had an hour more to sleep. This was not the alarm my body had sensed.
No, that alarm was now, unknown to me, within the field of my gaze, through the window and far away. Unlike my indolent clock, its unseen hands moved to overlap one another with great anticipatory passion. And then the alarm went off.
The flame rose fiercely upward, as a dragon impudently roused, hungry for char and thirsty for blood. There were no expletives or oaths yet. I believe I politely a
The creative pro-The creative pro-
No, not process;
Impetus, drive, thrust.
Parry, riposte, repeat.
Oh, wasted time
And forced rhymes
And meter decays. Staccato. Staccato.
The sound of a beating
Running through alleys
Running through streets
Nothing gained, but nothing lost
And life is lived
And that is beautiful.
Thoughts on Tao I
To learn a little about Tao
Take what I write into your heart
To learn much about Tao
Take what I don't write into your heart
And laugh some more
We speak of baffling things as if they were simple
And simplicity baffles us
If Tao were confusing
The West would know about it
Tao is everywhere, we do not limit it
A man may live his life as a fool and know not of Tao
But today learn of it
And tomorrow teach it
Wisdom is great where there is discipline
Often greater where there is none
I took two copies of the Tao Te Ching out from the library.
I examined the first book. It was thin, a traditional translation. The translator's notes were brief. I said, "I will keep this book and learn its lessons."
I examined the second book. It was thick and contemporary, a scholarly edition. It was supplemented with several essays. I went back to the library and returned it, for I had already le