Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Bonus Drawings, Extra Chances

~Arrive in Contentment

Among the divinations
Found in the fragmentary

Zhou Yi text on bamboo strips
Dug from mud at Shuanggudui

Those looted early Han tombs
The most popular topics 

Left by long-ago clients
Of sage prognosticators

Include recovering health
Getting married or pregnant

Giving birth finding a home
Or changing a residence

Criminals jailings taking
Office finding fugitives

Undertaking new business
Or military action

Hunting and fishing trying
To get something and weather

Will it be fine or stormy?
Will skies ever shine again?

On snowy mesas in spring
Far east of Pénglái Mountain

Unknown to the immortals
Thousands of years past the Han

A wayside poet welcomes
The return of the questions

To his hiding place in pines
His friends all older than him

~Ambigramable Planet

After windy nights and showers
This spring’s dawns found me
Already awake and about

Cloud ships all sails out
The sky a deep sea
Under trees starred in flowers 

~Truth to Tell

There is this one juniper
On the mesa that, even
Drenched in the brightest sunlight,

Seems in some wonderful way
To be awash in moonlight
And silvery, a mirror

Image of one those scenes
In so many old movies
Shot outdoors in broad daylight

With blue filter to suggest
Actors are under the moon,
Except today here’s tonight,

The whole mesa is moonlight,
The human vision filtered
To see it all as in sun—

Save for this one brilliant tree,
Shadow who gives up the ghost,
The whole game away. This one.

~The Merchant’s Waste Book

What to bother dreaming about—
Snakes in our hair, black robes swarming,
And it’s strange that we never fall—

Yellowish-red with scented heaps
Of powder mixed with grey water—
Paint collaborating with chance,

Monitoring its own results,
As if severe abstraction were
Not another realism,

Another representation 
That what is not false must be real
Or the other way around—sun

Sinking into the evening clouds
That bloom and then sink to the ground—
And it’s strange that everything falls.

~ A Biographer as Ghost of the Ghosts

We know too much about the poets—
The lives and thoughts of famous ones
Especially, but poets and writers in general

Have been too thoroughly investigated.
To feel that a life is a biographer’s right
In which everything is meant for you

And nothing you shouldn’t try to explain
Better than anyone possibly can—
Given the tenuous state of the truth,

Biographers have done a disservice,
Not to the meanings of poems and not
To the deceased famous poets, but to us,

The little creatures below those tombs
Biographers have carved of black stone,
Who write with our legs in the grass,

Thinking the thoughts of biographer ghosts
As if phantoms might judge our lost lives,
Our details too tiny to notice we know. 

~ The Wisest Virgin

As civilization ends
And preppers stack shelves with food
To survive apocalypse,

I live to be posthumous.
A small collection of books
Sits stacked as I’ve arranged them

On my old bedroom dresser
In my latest rented house.
No one is likely to care,

When we have been burned to ash,
Or crushed to dust and dispersed,
Or, more probably, just trashed,

But I imagine them found
By an archeologist 
Or earnest biographer

Who will conscientiously
Comment on this arrangement,
Peruse my marginalia,

And be impressed by the mind
That read such texts, wrote such notes,
And composed such foolish poems.

~The Secret Variations

-Ein Schusterfleck-

We danced around the secrets we knew,
But gravity waited us out as it grew.

We all tried to shout what we each had to say, 
But nothing had changed at the end of the day, 

So we thrashed around in a pit, and we screamed
While nothing much slept in the middle and dreamed.

Each claimed that we wanted the truth on our side,
But truth laid itself out between us and lied.

There was nothing we knew and nothing to know,
And that was the ring that we danced long ago.

-Life’s Most Liminal Kingdom-

There’s a world almost nothing but forest.
It’s real. We made it. But it’s not for us.

Below it, a fungus spreads tangled mats
Blooming with mushrooms, but it won’t stop at that,

Not when the stars are so tiny and spin
While shadows keep branching and drinking them in.

How can mere words make our own ecosystems 
When as words we lack sense or metabolism?

Our world isn’t living. It’s for guessing
Whatever it is real worlds keep forgetting.

-National Poetry Club Society-

A broken-winged horse hobbles on uneven feet,
Secret side-saddle and glad for a street.

Gentle gloom fuses and dancers amend,
Supposing night solemn again. Dance amen.

It’s the shadow of doubt the doubter left out,
The gray smallest with wings, slipped secret that sings.

Zero’s thumb and forefinger cinch a ring in the air.
Whose monstrous thieving breathes emptiness there?

Lamed Pegasus falls in that ring in a dream.
Secrets fear only good. So good seems.

-Past Words-

Pape Legba, Pape Legba, aleppe!
What only exists in words, preserve me.

Li Tieguai of Bethany on your crutch,
Tell the secret of loving life so much

You’d come back to be a beggar forever.
Resurrection doesn’t seem so clever,

If you’re forced to dance around every gate
With your gourd and your gifts to donate,

A story snagged on a miracle for good,
Of wisdom suspended and misunderstood.

An entrance is either empty or blocked
By the secret who gets in the way and talks.

-A Laugh-

The days of various light expose
Themselves as the secret holding a pose.

Human mentation is passionate, constant,
Versatile, utterly insignificant,

Witlessly sweeping, pompously poetic,
Possessed, in fact, but lacking in aesthetic—

Except for occasional humans, of course,
Who then settle down to ferocious discourse

As to which facts display the finer inventions
And what really were the creator’s intentions?

Could infinity hide in cacophony’s sleeve?
Round about midnight, the secret leaves.

-Silence at the Apocalypse-

The truth is not the true grail.
We haven’t failed it; it fails.

The promoter of the faith
Is only a devil’s wraith,

Half-skeptical advocate
Lacking the least mother wit—

Hence we get idiot Saint
Secret of plaster and paint.

Life from stones, language from lives,
Truth from a word to the wise—

The dance knows nothing as dance,
But nothing knows how to dance.

~Let The

Red dancing figures exist
As negative terms for fact
In languages for which truth

Requires the privative—not
Concealing, not forgetting.
The old lines were drawn leaping

From sheer cliffs into the waves—
This is what it means, they showed,
To forget, to fall. So don’t.

There are far worse other worlds
Than the lost and the hidden,
Full of what we’ve forgotten,

What presumably remains
Within the information 
Concealed in those stick figures

Intended to help prevent,
In symbolic mnemonics,
The loss they now represent.

There are far worse underworlds
Than oblivion, although
We have to imagine them.

~Just the Ticket

This one picks his numbers
Like he’s picking a lock

Like he’s twiddling a dial
Like luck is a broadcast

Whose frequency he knows
Or vaguely remembers

Like fortune’s a spectrum
A mind could traverse

A cavernous echo
Those numbers rehearse

~Living Is in the Past

The future is the monster
Under my bed, the fiction
I can’t quit double-checking,

No matter how many times
I’ve already checked, knowing
Beforehand it’s never there.

It’s one thing to proclaim faith
And another to believe 
In the deep sense—to not think

Twice before jumping in bed,
To not blink when facing death,
To be as certain of fact

As a martyr is certain,
After all the songs and prayers,
That—actually—burning hurts.

~Juniper Down

Impatient immortals wait
For souls to die they can steal,
Like poets in line for poems
With similes we can steal.

I can steal, you can steal, but 
Theft requires greater patience
Than pure creativity—
Easier to culture pearls.

Think of three trillions of trees
And how long each takes to grow.
Pretend you are immortal
Only if smudged with their smoke.

I stalk among browsing deer,
Uninterested in the deer,
Collecting the fallen wood,
The only wood I can steal.

~“More Than This, You Know There’s Nothing”

Inhaling a freshly baked
River Rock blackberry scone

I feel I’m the old woman
Savoring her bag of plums

In the famous Williams poem—
This tastes good to me. This tastes

Good to me. This tastes good to
Me. If you have been denied

Or have just denied yourself
A pleasure your evolved flesh

Waters itself profusely 
In fond anticipation 

Of getting reacquainted.
Empirical evidence

Suggests anticipation 
Oversells experience

But right now with this pastry
In my mouth I disagree.

~Master Pang’s Hut

Humans are for whom longing
Is due. These woods don’t need it
Are barely surviving it

Scraps of the forest that was—
Humans are our own Ice Age
Temperatures notwithstanding

Sheets of us blanketing Earth
Scraping continents to stone
Scraping the world clear of woods

Which is bad news for hermits
Ironically—small bodies
Of ice with snowy whiskers

That we are—the advance guard
Of great civilizations
Blank urban developments—

We just wanted to crawl here
Into sweet somber mountains
Warming cold thoughts with real snows

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