Saturday, September 14, 2019

A Self-Revising Topo Map of Slender Sonnets Squared

1. Roadways, Trails, and Garden Paths

Hodos. Dao. The bent
And narrow, wandering ways

The world tends to hide,
Gathering sounds to silence

Granting clouds significance,
Symbols insignificance.

The change that carried us here
And the change that carries us

Away is the same exchange,
Which is never quite the same.

At the crossroads, paradox
Intersects the course axis.

Even the dawn in the leaves
Is a new star every day.

2. Pollarded Avenues

We are trees along the way,
Domesticated by thought,
Industrious artisan
Who makes things from us, from sleep.

Our dreams are emotional
Ghosts of memories, confused,
Lost, and overwrought. . . .

Like most trees, our minds are most
Productive and longevous
When brutally pollarded.

Branching memories
Can be cut to crop.
Dreams leaf from pollard twig tips,
Wounds reborn to haunt their words.

3. The Lacquer Tree Park of Meng

All these poems have grown
From Huizi’s Stink Tree,
The one unafraid

Of sprawling, huge but useless
For anything but lying
In its twisted shade.

These aren’t thought experiments.
These have actually been grown
In the homeland of nothing

Much, not even anything
Yet, the vast woods of Who Cares?
Their uselessness for making

Functional, fungible things
Lets these bent limbs reach for air.

4. Escape Room

The great outdoors is better
Than being locked in a cage.
Also harder to escape.

There is something we perceive
As sameness. There is something
We perceive as change.

Of course, they’re never the same,
And maybe they never change.
The tasseled summer grasses

Nod their heavy heads, under
Long-armed ponderosas.
It’s easy to see sameness,

Harder to take note of change.
This distinction blocks escape.

5. Fons et Origo

Miletus was a city
Unknown to the Warring States,
As both were unknown

To the woodlanders
Trading in obsidian,
Outrigger adventurers

Finding archipelagos,
Cattle herders encroaching
On the foragers of coasts,

Et cetera, but fertile
For the future of ideas.
What can we now think or claim

Lacking that Milesian
Mutation, stated reasons?

6. Making Sense of Obscure Signs

Wisdom is more of a mood
Than a characteristic.
When we’re feeling wise, we’re wise.
When we’re not, we’re not.

“Turnings of our attention
Form the nucleus
Of our inner self.”

Zhuangzi held the wind
Was not one thing but unique
To each tree’s sounds returning,

And Darwin noted
Evolution is no more
Targeted than wind.
Trees seem wise to bend in wind.

7. Finite in Nothing

Excess reproduction is
The only reason
Life is still living.

The capacity to waste—
To make waste, lay waste,
Waste countless offspring—

Is the miracle of life,
Profligate excess
That ensures excess endures.

Life learned excess from the way
Everything uses sameness
To ring each minuscule change.

Seeds reach each least mutation
Through wind-blown iterations.

8. Sunbird

Character is far
More enduring than human

Character—or life.
Each way branches from its trunk,
Most of all paths through the trees.

Humans had something to do
With blazing the trail, sometimes,
Sometimes followed other beasts,

Traced the arc of the sunbird
Through the canopy, this way,
Wore the track to sunken trace.

But the branching ways we paced
Outlast, blossom past our days.

9. Between a Lake and a Rockface

The wind in the trees,
Or the wind in the canyons,
Or the wind in city streets,

Is the same phenomenon
Of atmospheric stirring
And is nowhere the same thing

As the clattering of chimes
Made to make music,
Of a kind, from enough wind.

Truth is this indexical
And not that windy,
Meaningful cacophony.

Truth is just this meaningless.
Branches bend to whisper this.

10. The Wandering Days

That was it. That was summer,
Walking two roads, driving both
Ways, up and back and back up
And now to back before spring.

The cherishing of one place,
One day over another,
Brought the place into being,
Made the day brighter,

A bird on the branch.
The tree and all its courses
Faded from view for that bird,
As if there were no more way

Including summer. The bird
Winked once and wandered away.

11. Logos or Dao Are Nothing Much; Gravity Is Nothing As All

In her head, Sabine
Is arguing with Steven.
She writes about this later.

Steven posits a card game
And says he gets suspicious
When one hand turns up often.

Sabine thinks that a card game
Has known rules but gravity
Is just cards thrown from the dark.

Then Brook claims Zhuangzi sees life
Like an unruly card game,
Values from an unknown source,

But knows his Dao’s a wild card.
I think there’s nothing to it.

12. Fancy

The ostentatious blossoms
Of more aureate diction
Elaborate the branches

Of the natural
As philosophy,
Of the supernatural
As our destiny,

And the knowable
As mathematical,
Digital dexterity.

No petals fall from this tree,
Huge, gnarled shadow, dripping sap
And dispensing naked seeds
Wind blows into dusty paths.

13. Their Language Is Silent, Their Gestures Motionless

When was the earliest wen?
Three thousand years ago? Ten?
Was the earliest symbol
Painted, spoken, sung, threaded,

Traced by the wave of a hand?
When was our earliest when?
Huizi was wondering this,
Kicking his can down the way.

His old friend, Zhuangzi,
Never asked questions like these.
So sue me, grumbled Huizi.

What’s wrong with finding a fact
Nothing about shi or fei?
Which one came first, anyway?

14. Skotoland

To complete every least, last
Possible change will require
The universe to repeat

Everything almost the same.
Until it does, it will keep
Repeating, changing, turning

And returning in its sleep,
In its waking, in its dreams,
In its mornings, in its breeze

At dawn and after twilight,
Under the lights scattering
Themselves as glimmering waves,

Stirring the myriad leaves
Casting shadows in the trees.

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