Friday, March 6, 2020

Incredibly Cheery Quartet for the Coming of Spring

~ Relax

I worry too much. I wake up telling myself,
Before I’ve even fully escaped the clutches
Of dreams, “you worry too much.”

Death and the future are one and the same.
We’re always crawling into both, never
Actually finding ourselves in either one.

I think of the slow seal, caught by its tail
By the quicker mother polar bear, just
As it was escaping under the ice. I think

Of its head, a moment later, in the vice
Of the polar bear’s jaws, facing the camera,
Bleating last pain and panic. Silence. I think

Of the magnificently framed composition
Of the polar bear and her sons on the white
Ice smeared with a crimson de Kooning

And the voiceover warmly narrating, 
“At last, after the longest night on Earth,
The mother and her cubs can relax.”

~ Per Sora Nostra Morte Corporale

The human body spends a life
Evolving a new person who grows old
Acquiring fragments of lost souls.

Then body dies, the person
Goes, and all the souls are left behind,
Poor lonely, homeless little souls.

Until another body—maybe many
Evolving persons of their own,
Persons grown acquiring souls,

Encountering forgotten husks,
Consume them, sweetly sleeping thoughts, 
And new hosts tend old souls at home.

~ Reluctant to Face the Wall

No tool hasn’t been a weapon;
No weapon hasn’t had the chance
To kill or maim those wielding it.

A discipline’s a well-honed tool,
Whether for steeling the body
Or cutting out the monkey mind—

Whether for carving memories
Into rococo palaces 
Or focusing on the unknown—

But the assassins, the thinkers,
The hunger strikers, free divers,
And monks sitting zazen all know,

As they hang by bare fingertips
From the cliffs that each has chosen,
That the edge they’ve polished is keen,

That blades don’t care what they sever,
And that there’s a reason for life 
To buck, to shy, to spring away,

Wary of wintry discipline,
To shiver with dread, reluctant
To return to facing the wall.

~ Much Obliged

Obligation is a wonderful invention
Life built out of humans for humans
To make out of life—it’s key

To how we compete, how we cooperate,
How we raise offspring, how we survive.
I wonder, now that it’s carried us so far,

If we will carry it too far—oblige ourselves
Into extinction, one more strategy winking
Out under the blinking stars. Then spring.

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