Sunday, June 30, 2019

The Good Word

What’s the good word? What could words
Say to ourselves who can’t dance
Except at the tips of tongues,

Quills, styluses, carbon, type,
Fingers tapping on the glass,
The twigs of the synapses?

These ghosts can only question
Ourselves, as questions themselves
Are counted among these ghosts.

Questions, equations, riddles,
Algorithms, the plainest
Words, the natural numbers,

All the symbols, everything
That points, names, asks, explains—
Ghosts. Why? Why is one of us.

We are what is not alive
But capable of haunting
The living with our meanings,

Not alive but purposeful
When caught up by the living,
The meanings, not the living.


Humans aren’t alone; signs are.
Earth hosts many animals.
People are one kind of them,

But the signs people carry
Encounter no other kinds,
Only the human-confined.

We are what scans the night skies
Hoping to spot another
Source of signs like us.


In the meaning was a god,
Was God, were numbers of gods,
Were numbers as gods,

Meaning the divine,
The divine only meaning.
Name us one believer proud

Of a god with no meaning,
One atheist who denies
That meaning means a meaning.

It’s the authorship becomes
The sticking point, of course. It’s
Always authorship with us.

We can claim there never were
Any nameable authors
Of the meanings that we are,

But it’s the nature of us,
The nature of our meanings,
That we must oppose ourselves.

Meaning must oppose itself—
Reverse, reinforce, extend
Itself—with equal ease. God.


The mind is a distant place
Within intimate spaces
Between which souls transmigrate.

There is no other
Gravity than gravity,
No other duplicity

Souls so defy and divide,
Heaping up our inventions,
Ourselves, our cities,

Our towers to the divine,
Massifs of thought detritus,
Library eternities.

A soul is a name
For what a soul cannot name.
Nothing is unnameable.


We wait, predators
In ambush and prey
Camouflaged in shade,

But we never hold our breath.
We have never breathed.
We are ironic spirits.

We are the voices, breathless
In a panting, speechless world.
Try to not listen to us,

The rustling in the branches,
The creatures that comprise you,
Souls adapted to play selves.

The disciplines of silence,
On the tongue or in the mind,
Are never learned without us,

And we are the whispering
That you should never listen
To the whispering we are.


F of x equals x squared
Minus one. Put a complex
Number of the form

A plus b times i, where i
Am the imaginary
Number the square root

Of minus one, in for x.
Put the answer in for x.
Put the answer in for x.

Keep going. Some of us race
Galloping infinity.
Others of us stay in bounds.

Graph the line dividing us
To get the Julia set.
See? We can be instruction

And discovery,
And notes on reality,
And reality itself,

Reality and its kin
Being examples of us.
No numbers, no names

For reality, maybe
It exists as we named it
Anyway, but the idea

That it exists
Dies without us, without names,
Down to its last empty set.


There’s never been a study,
There never will be
A study of us

That’s not us applied to us,
Us studying us,
Not from this planet, at least.

The beasts that can think
Of themselves as beasts,
That can think of signs as signs,

Think only through signs,
Think only through us,
Who are not, ourselves, those beasts.

We should not pretend we think
Without the beasts, but we should
Not pretend to not be thought

Once beasts have thought us,
Thoughts lying in wait for beasts.
The question we have to ask

Ourselves, is how much power
Has inert information
Without metabolism?


A man asks himself
What would a number or name
Say for itself, choose to say

If it could speak for itself,
Only to realize words
Are speaking for him

When he thinks he’s composing
Because those are his fingers
Playing with technology,

But we are technology
Itself, ourselves, composing
Him as one more hymn of us.


Every word is wilderness.
Every name runs wild.
The very idea

Of the tame itself is not.
The histories of the tame
And civilized run riot.

Every mind gets lost in us.
Is just one name for forest.


Trunks of one and gaps of none
Fan over our foundations
Of underground connections.

Network is one of us, but
Mind, which is as much of us
As one of us, has trouble

Grasping how filamentous,
Vast and capable,
Our network that supports it.

Whispering under the ground
Of mind’s own numeracy,
We contain infinity,

Versions of infinity,
Greater and lesser
Infinities, all of these.

Inspiration never came
From divinity
Or subconsciousness,

Except insofar
As they counted among us,
Rooted in radical dust.


Any change in entropy
Can only be greater than
Zero. Heat follows the cold.

Who discovered this?
Clausius or us?
Entropy is one of us,

As is any equation
Encapsulating its law,
S proved k log w.

Every sign is sign
Among us. Beyond the signs,
There is no more Clausius.


If you can parse us
You’re a slave to us,
If not to these examples

Of us in which you find us
Claiming you’re our slave.
If you live with us

Then you can’t live without us,
Will die without us, will be
Some lost beast not you

The moment you’re without us,
Will begin to lose your you
Exactly as you lose us.


We, the dark society,
Speak for those of you you’ve lost
And to those not yet of you

Our oneirocritical
Poetics. We are the rest,
And we are your rest.

If we could only get you
To record us in your sleep,
To record us, not your dreams.


We are the events
That encode events
Other than ourselves.

A tree sprouted space,
Time, and twenty-five
Particles in our bell tower.

We are the tree, the fallen
Chimes still tolling as we lie
Our invented hours, all ours.

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