Friday, November 13, 2020


The book’s index listed both ‘Blasphemous thoughts’ and ‘Thoughts, blasphemous,’ and in one surviving copy a reader has underlined both entries.

Goal-directed behavior,
Confined to mammals and birds,
Serves to flexibly respond
To changing environments—

This allows us to be less
Stereotyped in movements,
To change strategies ad hoc.
Thanks to beasts like us, the world

That gave rise to us has goals—
Our goals, not its own, of course,
But a great diversity
Of goals, a competition,

Not just of lives, but of goals,
And so I watch the cutthroat
Trout, a native to these creeks,
Stalk flies in late autumn light,

And think about tying flies,
Something I have never done,
And about Isaak Walton
Surviving violent times.

A ground squirrel with an acorn
Or a dozen in its mouth
Scampers by. How is this more
Goal-directed than the trout?

Which among us is ever
Anything but small thoughts caught
Between compelled behavior
And the goals that direct us?

If we’re anything but goals
And behaviors, we’re waffling,
Trying to cover our bets,
The ad hoc in the middle

Of the middle of it all—
That’s us. And is completion,
The comprehensive survey
Of all the goals we could know,

And all the ways to fail them,
The anatomy of goals’
Possession directing us?
I refuse to tie this fly.

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