Choosing Life

•March 11, 2013 • Leave a Comment

According to an ancient American myth,
When a child is born,
The child can choose to leave or stay
Once human life has been sampled for a while.

Parents fear children will choose to leave,
If they catch on too early to the whims of fate
And the random horrors of the universe,
So their parents tell them stories in poetry.

The stories find patterns everywhere.
Everything seems nice and neat and meant to be.
By the time the child finds out that things are not so,
It is too late to go.

The source of poetry is a lie,
A just so story,
A whistle in the dark to quell fear of change and chance
And beasts that roar in the night.

The source of poetry is a parent pleading
With a child
To stay
And have hope it will be all right.

Once we know we have been fooled,
We repeat the old poetic stories
As talismans to keep chance at bay
To quell the fear that very little happens for a reason.

When poetry becomes a talisman,
We sometimes call it prayer.
Prayer to an arbitrary god
Determined by the place of our birth.

Where do the children go who see through the ruse,
When they choose to get out before the getting out gets too hard?
Someplace nice, I hope.
Someplace where the stories are true.

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Pond

•March 4, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Dust gently
Settles
On the flat
Surface
Of the thick-green pond.

Blue dragonflies
Yellow jackets
And Red-winged
Blackbirds
Fly slowly in the heavy air.

Small buzzes
And short sharp trills
Occasionally
Ripple
The stillness.

The pond is jade
Shaded by giant oaks
And maples
With fiery-red
Leaves.

Every small motion melts
In the humid heat,
A stilled
Life
That every now and then buzzes or trills back to languid life.

The tranquil motion of color, heat, and shaded light
Fills my regret-filled soul
With the blessings of a Mind
Colorless
Free of any shades of Judgment.

My old body hangs heavy
In the liquid heat
A material
Thing
At one with the thingness of things.

Neanderthals

•March 2, 2013 • Leave a Comment

She: Push, push, push!
He: It will not move.
She: We are strong.
He: We are weary.
She: It’s somewhere to go.

He: This is the end.
There is nowhere to go.
We are hunted behind
And blocked ahead.

She: Push, push, push again!

The boulder moves…

She: We are in!
He: It is so so dark in here!

They walk in blackness,
Black as blinding light.
They walk in silence.
Two giant owls fly above them silently unseen.

She: We are in a cave’s throat.
He: Walking to its womb.

At last
A dim light
Flickers
In the distance.

The male eagle owl calls HOO-HOOO.
The female owl calls hoo-hoooo.
But they sound like one:
HOO-hoo, HOOO-hoooo

And they arrive
At the light
To see drawings
Move on a wall.

It’s a hunt.
Dangerous animals dance in the flickers,
Pursued by stick figures
Keen to kill and to worship.

She: We are here.
He: Where? Where? Where?
She: We are the hunted and this is their hunt.
He: Do the Savannah People want to worship us with their far-flung spears?

She: We had images too
He: Older than theirs.
She: Our hands are on the walls
He: Of time.

She: This is the place to wait.
He: They will come.
She: They will kill us at their altar.
He: We are the last of us,
The last of the People of the Cold.

She sat silently.
Tears dropping from her eyes.
She remembered when they had taken her
And had their way.

A child was born
Something in between
The Savannah People named her “Less than Us”
And drove her mother away.

But before she was cast off
She had snuck in
To name her daughter her people’s way:
HOO-hoo, HOOO-hoooo.

She knew that the two of them would not be the last,
The People of the Cold would live on inside their foe,
Inside the people who kill at altars,
Altars that echo HOO-hoo, HOOO-hoooo.

When a Stutter Becomes a Strut

•March 1, 2013 • Leave a Comment

If one person imitates a stutterer,
That is ridicule.
If a dozen join with music, rhythm, and dance
That is performance,
Art.

Rhythm makes things new
And artful.
The one wracked with illness, deficit, and disease
Is just a performer waiting for others
To dance.

Dance, music, and art
Capture anything and everything
To recoup and recuperate.
They make the strange a normal part of us
And the normal totally strange again.

The hunchback
The white whale
The skinny knight
The adulteress
The Idiot

All take the stage
To invite you and me to shed our conventions
Or at least to shed those that kill the dance
Have no rhythm
And demean the child in each of us.

We all look bad alone.
We are hairless apes
Meant to get it on with others
Not take it out on others
We don’t understand.

We all fear that our dance step
Is lame
When it is just a new step
Waiting for the harmony of other hearts
To beat in unison.

When you fail to see the potential rhythm
In other people’s steps
You stop history.
You create static and noise,
Instead of music.

There are probably those who cannot be recouped and recovered
Too far out, too lost,
Too far behind or too far before their time,
Too lame to be danced with.
But how do you know until you step out?

Death is to be feared,
Faced in terror, alone,
Unless it is a death scene,
The last act
In our starring role on the boards with our fellow players.

Blobfish God

•February 23, 2013 • Leave a Comment

The Lion God is not the Aye-Aye God.
The Golden Tamarin God is not the Naked Mole Rat God.
The Whale God is not the Blobfish God.
The God who made the lion is not the God who made most of us.

Many mistakenly worship at the altar of the Lion God
Only to be found wanting.
The altar of the Blobfish God sits untended
Save by the wretched of the earth.

Christ said he was the “Son of God”,
But was He the son of the Lion God or the Blobfish God?
Since what He actually said was that He was “the Son of Man”,
His Father was certainly the Blobfish God.

Indeed, Christ said He had come to save
The lions, the Golden Tamarinds, the whales, and the beautiful people
So they too could enter heaven
With the aye-ayes, the mole rats, the blobfishes, and the rest of us.

They say God made us in His own image.
Some people look like the Lion God made them,
But most of us look like the Blobfish God made us,
So I say “Hasten to His altar”.

The Lion God is the God of the flawless.
He seeks perfection.
The Blobfish God is the God of flaws
He seeks the sublime.

When they wove their beautiful quilts
The old Puritans sought to evade competition with the Lion God
By always imposing an intentional imperfection.
In the act they were greatly pleasing in the eyes of the Blobfish God.

The Blobfish God is an artist who knows flaws are the foundation of life.
Flaws ruin things so they can become something new,
Something wiggling, jiggling, singing, broken, and alive,
Something that looks ever more sublime the more it faces death.

I will tell you a secret.
When the noble lion is finally old and scarred,
He achieves the sublime—like the blobfish, the aye-aye, and the naked mole rat—
And retreats to the altar of the Blobfish God.

There is only one God
And He is the Blobfish God.
We all eventually arrive at His alter to sacrifice our illusion
That the Lion God will save us.
Then truly we look on the divine face of the Blobfish God.

blobfish

aye-aye

Angry female naked mole rat.

Credit: Buffenstein/Barshop Institute/UTHSCSA

Note

•February 15, 2013 • Leave a Comment

She lays herself down (cycle) is done.  It is a connected set of poems written in stages.

 

This “blog” does not allow comments.  For why, see the posting “Bundles”.

She lays herself down (cycle)

•February 15, 2013 • Leave a Comment

I.

She lays herself down on the desert sand.
Black vultures sit with her,
Experts in death who know when
To summon majesty to take her.

They cry to the sky to call the wild beast
To its duty
To kill her body
So they can clean the bones.

She does not shudder at the roar.
She does not seek escape.
She offers her throat to the bite
And her body to the embrace.

The vultures prepare the body
Digest it into dirt and dust
So the ancient beetle can carry it away
For the restoration of life.

Her bones gleam white against white on the white desert floor.
But they will darken soon
Chewed and abraded to dirt and dust as well.
The wind will finish the job in a flurry of sand.

Her soul
Shimmers
Like a blue mirage
Of life-saving water
To draw another seeker hence.

*******

II.

Parched
He is drawn
Pulled and dragged
To the light bright shimmering water.

He trudges on
Over dunes
And more dunes again
Until it all seems a cruel mirage.

But then he arrives
Suddenly
Surrounded
By a light blue light.

He can feel something has happened here.
There is a faint smell of violent blood
Shimmering
A faint hint of peace as well.

This violent peace is only here.
Everywhere else is vacant lifeless desert
All about him
Closing in.

Yet life
And death
are everywhere there,
Concealed asleep in the searing heat.

He cries out
“I feel you, I sense you
Dear dear one,
Who laid yourself down.”

Suddenly there are other presences there
Black things
Odd things
And then it comes in a wave and a roar.

Majesty
Accompanied by a raven
Who says,
“You are not prepared.”

*******

III.

The squat old woman glimpses
The wisp of blue
Smoke
Water
Apparition
On the horizon.

Slowly
Like a desert tortoise
She comes
To the place
Of blue
Shimmering above the desert floor.

She lowers herself down
In stages
Slowly
To the sand
And sits
Still.

Silence
Emptiness
Death
Peace
Denial
Surround her.

An ancient beetle crawls
Up
Stops
And says
“Welcome,
Welcome back.”

The old woman cannot speak.
She comes from the time
Before speaking
But not before understanding.
She nods.
And the beetle waits.

She waits.
The blue shimmers.
A bare wisp.
The blue congeals
Into a substance.
She takes the soul
Away.

The beetle is left alone
And walks on.

*******

IV.

The young professor scans the high-desert grass,
Searching for pronghorns.
Some people call them antelopes.
But they have been here in the New World forever.
They are antelopes no more than javelinas are boars.

They run faster than anything on the continent,
Flying across the grasslands,
Easily outrunning wolves and coyotes.
They are perfect speed.
No living thing can match them.

But a dead one can.

Evolution dictates that nothing runs fast
Save to escape a predator seeking to run faster.
Nothing learns to flee that is not chased by something not easily outrun.
The pronghorn is indeed chased,
But chased by a spirit now.

A fleet and powerful cat chased it once upon a time,
Shaped its miraculous speed,
In order to receive the gift of its own agility in turn.
The spirit cat is gone now from the flesh,
Betrayed by a slow halting primate with a spear.

The pronghorn is alone,
With nothing left to chase it,
To kill it,
To honor it,
To meld with it in a blizzard of speed.

In the wilderness the professor comes upon an old woman
Accompanied by a young girl.
Perhaps they are Native Americans,
Though only the girl looks it.
The old woman looks like the grass itself.

She is yellowed and sallow,
Aged and ancient as a creek bed,
Withered, shrunken,
Burned black by the sun.
Her face betrays no race.

The professor is startled.
But feels he is the intruder.
“I am here to find pronghorns,
To celebrate their speed,
To watch them run for play.”

The little girl says, “They do not play,
They run in sorrow and in waiting
In sorrow for the death of majesty,
In waiting for its return,
So the dance of life and death can begin again.

The old woman does not speak.
But a vision enters his mind as if a gift from her.
In his mind the pronghorn bounds
As fast as an eye can see
Pursued by a majestic blur.

The pronghorn says
“This is what I was made for,
This is what I was born for
This is what I live for
This is how to die.”

When the majestic cat
Chases the majestic deer,
They are one.
No time for fear,
Only time for life.

The professor responds,
“No one has ever seen this cat,
This ghost
Who runs so fast.
It is only scientific speculation.”

The girl says,
“Mother has seen it many times in the flesh.
She is here
To take its soul
Away.”

*******

V.

Seeking shelter from the storm,
The homeless man finds a cave
Above a dry wash
Turned raging torrent.

Wet and shivering, he sits
In cold
Empty
Darkness.

Once he had been something.
What, he has forgotten.
Society’s refuse is what he is now.
Garbage meant to take itself out.

He has wandered for years,
A leper with no bell,
To find himself scavenging in a red desert,
Seared with hellish heat except for the occasional Biblical deluge.

Like an old ascetic,
He has spent forty days and forty nights in the desert,
Free at last of those who would throw stones
At lepers without bells.

From the shrouded entrance of the cave
A coyote emerges
Ending the old man’s reveries
With a spark of fear down his spine.

The coyote lies down close beside him
And falls asleep,
Spreading animal warmth
To his body and his soul.

They sleep in peace side by side.
He dreams of a special place in the desert
He has seen
Where there was a shimmering blue light.

He dreams of an old woman
He has never seen,
She is ancient beyond words
And gestures to him to come.

He remembers the raven
Long ago
When he sought a higher calling,
Saying he was not prepared.

He and the coyote wake
To a majestic roar outside the cave.
Fearless,
Together,
They venture forth.

*******

VI

The “old bone man”–
He laughs when he thinks of what they call him.
He is  indeed a sack of old weary bones
Come to study bones far older.

He walks to the excavation site.
They wait for his science to kick in.
The old bone man always has a guess about what the bones had been,
Long before humans had begun.

Perhaps an ancient cheetah
Or a long-legged fleet hyena,
Both long gone
From the desert grassland.

The old bone man
Silently
Stares
For a long long while.

“It’s probably a hoax,” he says.
The bones look too old,
Too massive,
For what we know was here.

It’s cat-like.
But it was never here, if it was anywhere.
It would have been very big and very fast
And could never have existed.

Nothing could have escaped its jaws
No animal could have outrun it.
It would have caught and eaten everything.
Even pronghorns could not have eluded it.

A young Native American girl was there,
Unnoticed till now in the background.
She asks, “What if this cat was big and fast
Because something was bigger and faster still?”

The old bone man nodded.
Thought.
Looked at the girl.
And said, “Perhaps.”

He thought to himself,
“There has to a be a last one, doesn’t there,
A fastest and biggest,
An eater that does not get eaten?”

The girl hears his thoughts
And says, “No,
Humans eat but do not get eaten
Yet they are naked, frail, and slow.

They left the chain long ago.
For them, there is no death with dignity.
They hold their victims in pens
And they themselves die in expensive hospital rooms
No better than rooms in a cheap hotel.”

*******

VII

The man and the coyote
March across the desert
With assurance
Fixed on their goal.

They are going to the place
He dreamed of,
The place where he was rejected
Because he was not prepared.

They are going together
As equals,
Scavengers both
Not to take but to be a meal.

Drink my body
Eat my blood
Mix me
Into the soup of life.

He, to return at long last to the cycle,
The coyote, to mentor the re-entry
Of a being who had spun clear of necessity
In a great fall.

There is a way to die
With dignity:
It is not to flee the pursuer,
But to meld with the pursuer in grace.

*******

VIII

The man and the coyote
March across the desert
With assurance
While the coyote tells a tale.

“There once was a creature
Who substituted money for blood
And left the cycle of life.

Those with more preyed on those with less
And bled them dry
To make slaves and serfs.

In nature, predator and prey are on an equal footing
And they are sometimes one and sometimes the other,
Exchanging the gifts of food and death so life can flourish.

Money made the few powerful
And the many weak.
Once proud primates became zombies who called themselves wise.

They fed on each other’s blood
And fleeced bodies before they were buried.
In a dead world where the soul died before the body.

They called themselves higher.
They claimed a god told them to dominate.
They killed the majesty of death in a lust for eternal life.

They forgot what we animals know,
Life is about facing death squarely in the eye,
Otherwise there is no soul.

Do they shed money when they cry, not tears?
Do they shed money when they bleed, not blood?
Do they shed money when they die, not life?

We animals seek our mates
Run for our lives
And embrace death when it comes.

You humans seek money
Work for your living
And cling to a life you never really lived.

Have you ever run from a lion,
Saved yourself in a mad dash and leaping bound
And hailed the majesty that made you?

If not, you are not prepared.
You are not worthy.
You are merely buying time.”

*******

IX

The man and the coyote,
Near their goal,
Come upon an ancient woman and a raven.

The man says, “Greetings grandmother.”
But the woman cannot speak.
The raven speaks in her stead.

“The pronghorn is not an antelope
The javelina is not a pig
The tarantula is not to be feared.

I am not a human.
Things are not as they seem.
I collect the souls of the dead.

Each creature’s soul is a different type of blue.
From souls I make necklaces,
Symphonies of blue.

For balance I need all the shades,
But human souls are rare things these days
And I must seek them far and wide.

There are fewer and fewer to be found.
Most of them disappear before death
Leaving humans empty husks.

I see, my son, you have run for your life.
Your soul shimmers bright and blue.
Go, majesty awaits you.”