The seeing have forgotten
That the world persists when they
Turn a corner or shut their eyes,
That the young woman they met
The other day was not conjured into being
By her falling in their glance
Any more than she was snuffed
Out of life by her falling out;
That the human drama in the marrow
Of the soul is not resolved by
Busying the mind with other things
Any more than a diseased man is
Cured by ignoring his sickness.
It’s the only thing I know to be true:
That things persist.
That things endure.
That things resound.
That things collide
Like great celestial bodies
Which are left changed, be them
Larger or smaller or merely
Altered in course.
And that these are all the same.
Who was it who said that God is an earthquake?
If he is right, we are each of us a tremor.
Published in Vita Brevis Press
The gates were guarded by a drooping man
With a weary face and a halberd in hand
Whose silhouette seemed through the fog
A grain-filled sack settling into nature’s laws.
His watchful gaze fell to his feet
And from my study I could see
That the watchman had finally fallen asleep.
The American woke
His fire crackling in the cold air
A figure, pottering about in the fog.
And then a musket coughed
Flame and led through the night
And the figure slopped into the mud.
Somewhere in the mountains
A hunter yipped, his barrel smoking.
He’d shot a native who brought only gifts.
And a million more would follow.
He wasn’t really himself, not anymore.
Whenever he joined the ranks, he got lost
In a demonstration of blue.
And war wasn’t war like he thought it’d be.
Not endless struggle with only a moment to breathe
But stretches of precious nothing
And then flickers of light and sound
And then the sprayings of a friend
Who caught one in the chest
Who sunk into the mud
At different depths, depending
On all they stuffed away
In their bags. In their rifles.
In their hearts. In their throats.
And where were they taking themselves, anyway?
Into the waves of grey, to the warring side?
Or into the earth from which they came?
We’ve one foot in the present
And another in the ancestral past.
That’s how Dr. Elling signed off,
Uncertain if it really made his point,
But happy with its eloquent ring.
Sometimes our tone is more triumphant
Than our ideas, he decided. But that’s alright.
Sometimes that’s just what we need.
Light, for the first time in millennia,
Came and lit the cave’s corners and nooks
Like a flashlight down a well.
And then the flare guttered and died,
So, they backed away from the edge
And pressed their backs to the walls.
The moment of revelation was over
But the images would never leave them.
The layers of the earth this cave bore proudly
Before returning to its endless night.
And as they roped up and rappelled down
They didn’t speak.
Because the cavern felt too sacred.
The darkness too silent.
A word, a light, a breath,
It would be a betrayal.
For, somewhere deep within them
They felt at home. Back at Nature’s breast
Off of which they’ve long since been weaned.