Sunday, August 1, 2021

Disheveled Days

Each next anxious thing presents
Itself a little askew.
For all mind, what remains must
Remain only in the past,

Which minds, knowing, carefully
Apportion into different
Categories of presence,
Absence, and uncertainty.

How many categories
There are, and how many names,
Vary widely by language.
The boundaries stay blurry,

However well-attended,
However necessary.
For now, let’s say the future
Is the fear of past transformed

Unpleasantly or beyond
Recognition. What happens,
When you can’t know what happened,
To what you know of what will?

Alarm fails to chime on time.
Things aren’t quite where they should be.
Have you done this already
And what should you do with it?

Body and mind together
Work as prediction machines,
But mind, in coils of language,
Can get prediction tangled

In stories of causation,
Come to believe decisions
Decided things. This can reach
Absurd extremes, misfortunes

Attributed to choices
Such as not to toss some salt,
Chant the same prayer each morning,
Touch the lucky rabbit’s foot.

In your own life, as you choose,
Choose, choose, choose, and agonize
Over choices imagined
But discarded, avoided,

You become superstitious
As baseball players crossing
Themselves at every at-bat,
The fans in the pub convinced

That something they might have said
To the screen has jinxed their team.
Mind is only predicting
The near past from more distant,

The absent from the present,
The deer browsing the roadside
From the corpses and the signs.
Mind thinks it makes decisions.

It’s predicting. Results mix,
Not because of prediction
But because the freshest past
Is always a little bit

Different. You can embrace it,
Squeeze it, study it, plan it,
Do your best to control it.
The past will always arrive

The way it’s always turned up,
Its old self, the one you knew,
Have known for most of your life,
The days disheveled, askew.

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