Monday, October 31, 2022

Town without a Story

Everyone said our father
Started it. Soon as he quit
Going to work and left town,

Strangers starting showing up,
Claiming to be the story.
People said our father took

The story, the real story
With him when he left the town.
If you wanted a story,

The real story went that way.
But the strangers insisted
The story started with them,

And then each one of them fought
For our attention. It got
To be a real blood-soaked mess

Of quarreling, those stories.
Everyone blamed our father.
He was the one who left town,

And if he hadn’t left town
We’d still be in his story.
Why couldn’t we go with him?

Sunday, October 30, 2022

The Urn of the Uncountable

Here is the urn of uncountable
Numbers of nearly identical
Colored marbles, each slightly unique.

So far, you have drawn a few thousand,
Most of which quickly slipped from your hands.
The ones left, you’ve discolored handling.

You wake up from broken marble dreams
Thinking you’re seeking something, the one
Combination of marbles for you,

The one perfect for you. You take out
Some of the dozens you’ve discolored
From handling so often. Scrutinize.

Rearrange. They’re not what you’re seeking,
But what you’re seeking you imagine
Based on what you have now in your hands.

Out there, your urn bursts, full of marbles
In myriad patterns and colors,
Each slightly different from the other.

Murakami once claimed, Whatever
It is you’re seeking, it won’t show up
In the form you’re expecting. Ever,

If it shows up recognizably
Similar at all. Pessimistic?
Well. Consider the scope of the urn.

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Left of Kin

How much have you got of what
You came here for? You didn’t
Come here for anything, hey?

So you say. Your family
Into which you were born grew
And assembled its army,

Then faded into the mists,
Forgetting each other, bit
By bit, assembling new groups,

Smaller, larger, around them.
You had your own. Fumbled it,
Lost them, built another one.

Somehow, here you are, decades
On, one of those left that aren’t
Precisely bereft. Just left.

Friday, October 28, 2022

The Noiseless Child

No one could hear her
But you. No one knew
She was mouthing words.
No one saw her mouth

Move. And what were you
Supposed to do? Should
You have translated
For her, a small child,

Weary old man, you?
Two worlds were spinning
Around your two heads,
One talking, one true.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

A Retrospective Life Can Be as Long as You Please

Let’s say you were well-off in Uruk,
Fifty-five hundred years ago, few
Generations before cuneiform.

You had what all your neighbors wanted—
Plenty of meat, dates, linen, and wool,
Even your own cylindrical seal.

Who knows how many people’s labor,
How many bodies you owned as well?
Life was good. The only problem was

Your own body itself. Fed and clothed
And anointed assiduously,
Nonetheless, you found yourself aging.

Nonetheless, you felt yourself aching,
Decrepitude ever increasing.
You had everything, and not enough.

Not even other people’s envy,
Much as it pleased and comforted you,
Stopped the environmental decay

Of the breathing creature that was you,
Of the sagging creature that was you,
One hundred lifetimes or so ago.

Now, for fun, let’s say your offerings
To An, Enki, and Inanna worked.
Miraculously, you stopped aging.

Still vulnerable, you hid yourself
Away, town to town, to the mountains.
You became a myth of the mountains,

And you’re still a myth of the mountains,
Bestial wild-man said to haunt them.
Maybe you were Enkidu’s model,

Maybe the model for Humbaba.
You were born before writing, why not?
You have broken nature’s sacred law,

Living without aging, with complete
And successful replacement of parts.
But now we need a moral for you,

Something to console ourselves for you,
For your actual nonexistence.
We can imagine you unhappy.

We can imagine you wanting death.
Something about not wishing for this.
But then why do you still hide from death?

The life you practically invented,
The life of cities, urban elites,
Continues to garrote your mountains.

You’re down to a single small grotto
And the mouth of a cave you don’t leave
Often, don’t dare to. And yet, you’re free.

Why not? Let’s say you still enjoy life.
Within your constrained circumstances,
You still savor the quieter hours,

Addicted as ever to living,
Concentrating on moments of peace.
How are you different from anyone

Vulnerable in a small compass,
Who, let’s say, reads the books on your time,
Detailing dates, meat, wool, and linen?

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

A Fable for the Fossils’ Proving Ground

Simic, with his appetite
For the bizarre, waved at us
While on his way to the dump

The other morning, and we
Huddled and did not wave back
Because we weren’t ready yet

To be taken to the dump
With his other nongenres
Made up of fictions, essays,

And autobiographies,
Plus poetry, plus his jokes.
We were shy, half terrified.

What if someone thought we should
Try to survive on the dump
With the black shoes, black buttons,

And arithmetical flies?
We weren’t ready yet! We still
Had little bits of heart-flesh

Clinging to our spindly limbs.
We would have been torn apart
And scattered, spread as compost.

We were determined to wait
Until we were more than flensed—
Polished. Then we’d lie, content.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

A Tale of Appropriate Loneliness

It’s a secret society
Keeps from itself—how much of life
Is lived alone by the lonely.

In stories, the lonely are rare
Within their eras, exceptions
Even when they’re protagonists.

Community’s the rule, and rules,
As any nun or monk knows well,
Were formed to rule communities.

Hermits are exotics. They are,
If they’re required to be remote
In woods or deserts, on islands,

But we know stories of hermits
More appropriate to the world,
Such as the tale of the person

Who moved daily through small spaces
In the cracks of cities, suburbs,
Office parks, and commuter lanes,

Repeatedly making contact
With scattered points of social worlds,
The way darkness encounters stars,

But is mostly what isn’t stars,
Is most of what is, energy
That shapes the fragile shell of fires

But can’t be caught burning itself.
It’s not the tale of one rare life.
It was legion, and so are you.

Monday, October 24, 2022

The Hero of Zero Faces

The perfect leader waited
Alone in an empty field.
Thanks to wind and wind only,

Wildflowers nodded their heads
At the things the leader said.
Trees nodded, too. Not the stream.

What made the leader perfect
Was having no one to lead!
Well, that’s what the leader screamed.

Sunday, October 23, 2022

The Relevance of Each Tale

Once, she was late for work.
She’d been to the dentist
On her lunch break and had

A surprise cavity
Drilled and filled on the spot,
But now, her mouth still numb,

She was late getting back
And she had a meeting
First thing that afternoon

She was supposed to lead.
Even worse, she got stuck
In traffic. Disaster,

Major embarrassment,
At least, awaited her.
But she got there, though late,

And mumbled through, joking
About the novocaine,

And got a few laughs, and
That was that. She thinks now
About that day sometimes

When she’s running behind
Or skipping out on some

Does anyone recall
That meeting, besides her,
Or what it was about?

She had regaled her best
Friend about her bad day
For sympathy that night

Over beers, in a bar
Now boarded up. Her friend
Died fifteen years ago.

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Story That Won’t Say What That’s About

It took him until sixty
To learn what he knew at ten
But didn’t know how he knew.

One starts in declarations,
Out-loud realizations,
The weird wisdom of the child.

One ends in reflection, when
One accumulates enough
Mirrors to cage that pattern.

The little boy sat with friends
And declared his intentions.
Half a century later,

Pulling the waves together,
The old man sat watching him.

Friday, October 21, 2022

Don’t Live to Tell the Tale

At the beginning of this story,
The clouds are to one side of the lake.
By the end of this story, the clouds

Have reached the other side of the lake.
Similar clouds have taken their place,
Over the former side of the lake.

This is not a very good story,
It’s true, but it knows excellent clouds
Make a beautiful day at the lake.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

But No One Writes Back

Once, overlooking mud flats,
North tip of New Zealand’s South
Island, they watched the godwits,

Those not-too-spectacular
Looking wading birds feeding.
Having just learned that godwits

Repeat the longest nonstop
Migration of a land bird,
Year after year after year,

Alaska to New Zealand
And back, half a year later,
They wanted to look at them.

There on the peaceful mudflats,
They seemed unremarkable
To novices, excited

Only by what they’d been told
These feathered pipettes on stilts
Could do and would do again.

Some wonder is amazement.
Some wonder is bafflement.
They’d forget the name, godwit,

Until fifteen years later,
When someone would bring it up
In the other hemisphere,

By way of conversation.
Episodic memory
Can be a lonely flyer,

Carried along in a cloud
Of neurons, sending pulses,
Waiting to catch the wind back.

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Exhausted Sweat-Soaked Puppeteers

Fantasy is too much work.
Whoever you are, you know
It’s true—daydreaming tires you.

We’re not saying it’s useless
Or that you overindulge.
We’re not nearly that moral.

We’re saying it wears you out,
When you need your dreams too much.
When you need your dreams too much,

You can’t let memories lie
However they seem to lie—
You keep reconstructing them

In slightly altered tableaux,
Propping this or that one up,
Tailoring speeches for each,

Renovating the landscapes,
Choreographing the props.
It can be necessary

To plan, not to say survive,
Relentless fantasizing,
But it wears you out. It wears

You out. You sit there, staring,
Dry-mouthed, blocking out the scenes
In which pasts act out futures,

The implausibilities
Of which serve as shadow scrims
For the story, which is grim.

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Between Happy Accidents

What they don’t teach you in wonder-tale school
Is that serendipity’s expensive.
Serendipity don’t come cheap. Search costs
Alone are prohibitive, never mind
The nearly impossible trick of it,
To not understand what you’re looking for
Then serendipitously to find it.
If it happens once, that’s fine. If you think
You can have it keep happening, prepare
To pay large between happy accidents.

Monday, October 17, 2022

Girl with a Boyfriend

You want to know their story.
No, not the tale of these two
Particular people here

Hiking alongside the road,
Making you wonder which one
Would be more likely to hike

Alone. Probably him, but
More probably neither one.
These two only remind you

What an absolutely vast
Swath of story’s landscaped world,
Of that great hegemony,

Empire of the human mind,
Is dedicated to these
Pairings, these kinds of couples,

How they met, partnered, married,
Or broke up, renewed their vows,
Cheated one on the other

With some other boy or girl,
How interesting all this
Seems it must be to stories

In the kingdom of stories.
Are we not amazed heroes
Are accorded the core role

When it’s easy to argue
That even in fairy tales,
Folktales, scriptures, and epics,

The favorite plot pivot
Isn’t hero’s setting forth
But rotating boy and girl?

So there you go. Them again,
Hiking the side of the road,
Neither one looking too thrilled.

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Silent Martin

He was a pretty good guest
Wherever he went, but just
A pretty good guest, even

When he was the homeowner.
He left very little mess.
He repaired nothing himself.

When his partner showed the house
To some prospective buyers,
He sat in the dining room,

His gleaming laptop open
On the faux-marble table
And nodded when they stopped by,

Politely, but wordlessly,
As if he were his houseguest.
Then, when someone bought the house,

His partner moved out early,
But no one saw Martin go.
It was only years later

That the new owners noticed
Signs a guest still lived with them—
A washed mug in the dish rack,

A towel in the hamper,
A slight change in the angle
Of a chair by a window—

Although maybe it wouldn’t
Be accurate to call it
Living now, Martin, would it?

Saturday, October 15, 2022

Associate Professor

They never cared for memoirs, and they claimed to not trust them. Proud of their own memory, they compared it to the apparent recall capabilities of memoirists and became suspicious. How often the exact words of someone known only in childhood were reported. How rich the surrounding details, drawing the reader into the well-constructed scene. They asked themselves—does our memory work like this? Does our memory feel like this?

No, their memory did not work or feel much like any memoir worked and felt, not even for the early adult years when the scenes were often clearest. Even there, they noted how much more their memories were like dreams than plays with scripts. Strange shards shone vividly, accurately or not. Darkness swirled around and pressed in from all sides. Sequences were uncertain. Scents were to memories only the inverse of what they could be to dreams. A sudden smell could startle a dreamer awake or cast a waking person into a sudden reverie. But other scents among the memories in that reverie rarely surfaced vividly as the first, or at all, about as rarely as scents ever surface within dreams.

One morning, something they could not remember led them to remember reading a Time magazine review of the last book in Philip Jose Farmer’s River World trilogy, decades ago. There was no scene to this memory, no action, only the vague feeling of being eager to read the review, being a young science-fiction fan who had discovered Farmer’s River World in the public library a bit earlier and been wholly absorbed by it.

And what, now, did they recall of that trilogy itself? It was set on a planet around which a river ran from pole to pole like a perfect apple peel. Every human who had ever lived was there, which gave Farmer an excuse to put together his own dream team of past figures he found interesting and send them down this river as a small group in a boat. The team included Mark Twain and a Neanderthal, also a medieval character, and maybe Einstein. Several others, unremembered. Anyway, it turned out that this world wasn’t any kind of supernatural afterlife, only a sort of zoo created by an incredibly advanced alien species who had both the power and the mysterious desire to copy every human at death and to then re/store them on this artificial River World.

At least, that’s the best they could remember of the trilogy’s winding story at four decades’ distance. Of the book review, they remembered that the reviewer generally praised Farmer, while noting that the premise of the story was outlandish. And they remembered that the reviewer admired how quickly Farmer’s story went along. The reviewer then quoted Thoreau, “When skating on thin ice our safety lies in speed.” They never forgot that one, exact sentence out of the blur of the rest of the review, the blur of all of Farmer’s thousand-or-so page trilogy, the blur of that vivid year in their life.

Later, they discovered in a literature class that the quotation wasn’t Thoreau’s, but Emerson’s, and that the correct phrasing was “In skating over thin ice our safety is in our speed.” Reading Emerson’s essays, they would also learn that he wrote the sentence as part of a depiction of the New England character, specifically with regard to trading things, how trade-loving New Englanders avoided investment disasters by never hanging on to anything long.

So, it wasn’t a general observation at all. It was specific to a particular kind of person in a particular kind of situation, and it was slightly humorous. They couldn’t long recall the exact phrasing of Emerson’s whole essay, but there it was, more or less, a part of them from then on, a mossy path leading backwards from what they recalled of Emerson’s essay to the shining shard of that one line in a forty-year old Time magazine book review. (Did they just remember it wrong? Did the reviewer’s copyeditors let slide a mistake about Thoreau?) And from there, back to a vaguely wintry day in a small town’s public library, a year or two earlier maybe, among shelves of plastic-covered, hardbound science fiction novels, sitting on a footstool with a big, fat book about adventures on a River World, which felt compelling, at the time. The footstool, actually, was probably from another memory.

Did any of this hodge-lodge of broken precision and blurry context remind them of those well-regarded memoirs they had read? No, not really. No, it did not. They said as much, sometimes, when someone would listen.

Friday, October 14, 2022

What Your Mind Lost

The true tellers of memory
Are amazing. They earn
Every accolade, earn every

Publication, every penny.
They’re a different kind of liar.
They clutch. What the mind / keeps, it keeps.

If they went to the hospital
Once, when small, they’ll make you believe
Every storytelling detail.

If they saw horror once or twice,
What the bone of the world looks like,
Really looks like, when it breaks out

Of its smoothly functioning flesh,
They’ll write like the only witness
Who can make you feel what they felt.

You’ve been through the hospitals so
Much that thanks to them you’re still small.
Saw bone. Couldn’t feel it at all.

Thursday, October 13, 2022

The Mark of the Great Writer

He had a kind of all-purpose pocket
Tool—bit of a bottle opener, wrench,
And screwdriver but not really a knife—

That he used for every impossible
Small task he couldn’t quite get a grip on,
Pry open, or push down or whatever.

Often, using it, he would catch himself
Muttering, like it was curse and wisdom
Both, that cliché about how, to a man

With a hammer, everything is a nail.
But he wasn’t a man with a hammer.
He was a man with a funky whatzit,

Not quite an all-purpose tool, but useful,
That he repurposed as the need arose,
And usually found a way to make work

Without injuring himself too badly.
Then he would slip it in his hip pocket
And forget about it until the next

Problem presented itself. One morning,
He had an idea that he couldn’t quite
Put into words, and before he knew it,

He was twisting the edge of the idea,
Prying at it with that thingamabob,
Until he twisted so hard the tool snapped.

For a few moments he just stared sadly
At what was now a useless piece of scrap.
Then he sighed. Well, at least I’ve got the mark

Of greatness in writing, having deformed
My medium in order to say what
Has never been said before. So, there’s that.

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

This Is an Island and Therefore Unreal

A young English poet
Opined on a visit
To another island—

Iceland, as it happens—
Slightly north of England,
More latterly settled.

He wanted to believe
In something magical,
As many people do,

And he wanted to show
Off a little his way
With outlandish statements.

Later, a novelist,
Also English, published
A sort-of novella,

Centered on a woman
The novelist’s own age,
Of course also English,

Who experiences,
Through grief, a magical
Transformation she must

Complete by traveling
To Iceland, where she turns
Into a rocky troll.

Do we need to mention
The saga obsessions
Of English Tolkien?

You can’t write the unreal
Clear to reality
Simply by narration,

Since narration depends
On imagination
And imagination

On memory as much
As dreams do, but maybe,
If you’re rather English

And prone to fantasy
On your mental island,
You can visit Iceland.

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Narcissus Fell for It

If your life, your life,
Your very own life,
You with these words now
Shifting in your head,
Was like a story,

Really like any
Of the one hundred
And twelve thousand tales
Trawled by scientists
With algorithms,

Guess what? Things would get
Worse and worse for you,
With occasional
Moments of relief
As the screws tightened

Before, at the end,
Only at the end,
At the very end,
At their very worst,
Things suddenly got

Better! Do you think
Maybe this tells you
The truth of stories
As mirrors held up
To show life reversed?

Monday, October 10, 2022

Tale of a Distress Signal

The antenna on the top
Of the tank kept wondering
About each small decision.

Well now, what should I do next?
It was a fine, sensitive
Antenna, no doubt useful

To the tank, especially
Here, in the smoke of battle.
This antenna, however,

Was unaware of being
Useful to the tank, a tool
Among many for the tank

And its crew. This antenna
Was unaware of all that.
It felt the signals coursing

Through it, and it thought it was
The tank. The poor antenna
Felt responsible for all

The tank’s maneuvers, firing,
And misadventures in mud.
This could be a long story

Of the clueless antenna
Until the tank was blown up,
But it’s even worse than that.

At some point the antenna
Found out. It should have felt freed.
All this cumbersome nightmare

Of a fiery tank battle
Wasn’t its fault. Antennas
Aren’t tanks, or turrets, or tank crews.

It wasn’t responsible!
But it was stuck to the tank
Anyway, and signaling

Played a part in the nightmare,
And the antenna still guessed
Whether the tank should do this

Or that, still felt like the tank
Itself, still felt the burden
Of deciding—only now,

As impacts bent it in half
And it could hear the screaming
Of the burning crew, it knew.

Sunday, October 9, 2022

To Narrate a Set of Nonnarrative Texts

The object makes a history
Of itself, if you can declare
That all within the set of it
Came into being the same way

Or as part of some extended
Process—or if you can at least
Define it all within borders,
Within some sturdy boundary.

You can examine this object
Now for its history, teeming
With particulars, inquiries
That will emerge as narrative.

To define an object fully
Enough is to make it a wave
Carrying history it makes
Over the ocean, not a part

Of the uncountable ocean,
But apart. You must labor, then,
To comprehend the entire set
That makes itself its history,

Its origins, trajectories,
Its shifting contents and patterns.
Here, again, narrative tempts you.
If not the first technology

For compressing transmissible,
Restorable information,
Narrative was nonetheless one
Of the earliest, the one most

Rooted in the way your mind works.
So. You have collected a set
Of phenomena as object.
Objects make stories. Don’t forget.

Saturday, October 8, 2022

Let in the Underworld

Tranströmer imagined books
Giving an empty bookshelf
The baleful glare of a mob.

Inanimate objects spring
To life in many fictions,
Reaching their most ominous

Manifestations in tales
Where items such as grimoires
Begin to whisper themselves,

Which is so sweetly naive
Of both reader and writer,
Since what is such a story

But a story warning you
What your stories want to do?

Friday, October 7, 2022

The History of the Visible Universe as Seen from a Black Hole

If our photon rings contain
An infinite collection
Of copies of the cosmos

In conformal symmetry,
Then all those rings could be where
Our holographic dual

Lives, and wouldn’t that be sweet?
Somewhere in those rings would be
One brilliant infinity

Each to match each inner dark,
As when the serious child
With the wild head of ink hair

Sat in the barbershop chair
One morning, decades ago,
Astonished by reflection,

A sense of a ritual
More hermetic than holy
Dizzy within that wild head

Seeing itself spin away
In mirrored shining copies
Forever, one ghost’s first glimpse

Of what’s wrong with this picture,
One infinitely thin slice
Of the whole of history.

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Holiday from Memory

Most memories are useless
Or, if not useless, boring
Nevertheless. Poetry,

Storytelling, adventure,
Wish to fillet memory,
Leaving the feathery flesh,

The heavenly aroma
Of caught trout on the hot coals
In the hearth under the stars

On that perfect camping trip
In the grandest wilderness,
Alone with your new lover

That never really happened.
Even if for you it did,
However much edited,

There had to be, of that trip,
A lot of sweaty hiking,
Squatting behind trees to pee,

Setting up camp, breaking down
Camp, troweling dirt over
The ashes of last night’s fire.

And where did all those fish guts
Of your memories end up?
Entrails. Do you remember?

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Before the Day

Once, there was a planet not
Without mercy but never
With enough to go around.

Mercy was rationed. Creatures
Worked in alternating shifts—
Close to mercy, far from it.

Eventually, everyone
Found some. That was the nature
Of mercy, always to be

Eventually merciful.
But it was never enough
At any moment to cloak

The whole planet in one grace,
So the world teemed with creatures,
More and more and more around,

All in need of some mercy
But making do, best they could,
Until that day came for them.

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

And He Sang His God Damns in Despair

Maybe you knew what your old
Giant dreamed, James. Maybe you
Knew but pretended not to,

You, stopped more than four decades
Ago now, yourself. We can
Dream some of his dreams for you,

And no, they weren’t of slender
Girls and sycamores. The bruised
Plum image was just for you.

In his dreams he was walking
Normally as any man.
He was upset by something,

Conversing with a woman
He took to be his late wife,
Although this dream figure looked

Nothing like her and the age—
Both hers and his in the dream
And its historical age,

Victorian—was all wrong.
His dream was awful, awful.
That’s why he talked in his sleep.

That’s why your poem described him
Talking softly in his sleep,
Why your poem still talks for you

And for your Martins Ferry,
And why we’re talking for dreams,
Softly, since dreaming’s awful.

Monday, October 3, 2022

The Widower

Wasn’t much narrative left
He could hold in the corners
Of his small life for himself.

He smiled in the shady room,
Blinds drawn against burning sun,
Recalling how she’d put it.

It was her world, he just lived
In it. It would still be hers
Long after he had left it.

He frowned, as he tried to stomp
A desultory cockroach
That picked up speed. So he missed

Her. So what. This was his world.
She just haunted him in it.

Sunday, October 2, 2022

You Can Say It Means Whatever You Want, But You Still Can’t Work It Out

In Herbert’s version,
Composed in Polish,
The authentic tale

Of the Minotaur
Was in Linear A.
Short story shorter,

The Minotaur had
Daedalus couldn’t

Make him learn despite
A labyrinthine
Education, so

Theseus was brought
There by King Daddy
To assassinate

The Minotaur, which
He did. No problem.
It’s a favorite

Thing to do with myths
And legends—flip them.
But the Minotaur

Is still in the maze
Of Linear A,
Biding monstrous time,

And we know this as
The monster always
Waits for meaning, no

Matter how many
Ways you make it mean.
The monster, we mean.

Saturday, October 1, 2022

What Is Plot?

An English word of unknown origin
With the basic sense of a bounded bit
Of land. Eventually, that boundedness

Began to include the sense of measure,
Of land laid out in certain measurements,
And from there to the layout of a room.

You can see where this was going—measure,
Lay-out, plan, a sense of something arranged,
Not simply left to sprawl haphazardly,

Not just from here to over there, between,
Say, the river, that hill, and the forest,
But measured and abstracted boundaries,

Confined by the composed, by agreement,
As the plot. We’re the last ones to complain
About the crimes of the artificial

Against the holy natural, itself
A lovely artificial distinction,
But clearly plots are human artifice,

Species-specific, not landscape features,
One reason they’re so frequently compared
To webbed artifices of arachnids,

Know what we mean? We’d like to lose the plot
Sometimes. Sometimes we want to dare someone
Fond of story to sprawl through sprawled events.

Leave the plotting to surveyors, merchants,
And archeologists who need to know
How your ruins lie. Let them lie. Just lie.

We know it will make a terrible plot.
We’ll never see your character struggle
And climb up along firm, stepped terraces.

Be the river that floods the plot, the flash
Flood that left such ruins in the first place.
Be the true protagonist. Wreck all plots.