“Maybe there is a beast, maybe it’s only us.”
William Golding, Lord of the Flies
With that buried machete
We became conquerors
We slashed at the sunset
Hacked at the stream bed
And bled rust into water
Slowly the steel began to show
A sacrificial lamb was prepared
Field grasses lay down their weapons
Against the piracy of our find
We avenged our families
And crossed swords with the moon
All that slashing
Let the stars flood through our gashes
In our most savage dreams
We cut to the bone
Scaled our catch
Deforested the earth
And carved a path to the grave
We look everywhere, disconcerted,
Finally we stop and search our minds,
We trace back our steps into our steps
But the thing eludes us, like an essence,
And its lostness surrounds us like night.
To be found, it must acquiesce to light,
To accident, proximity, to perfect recall.
A St. Anthony need come round
When something lost must be found
In its place outside of time and space.
To be found requires a state of grace,
The thing must guide us back
To the lost kingdom in plain sight.
The ground of being must be misplaced
For us to save happiness from ourselves.
People go to the market to buy words
But don’t have the words
To buy the right words; instead, they bring home
Words that confuse them more.
Not having words makes them suffer
From suffering without words,
And not having words, they repeat
The ones they know so that those words
Come to mean everything and nothing
And are like existential bludgeons
For their maddening incomprehension.
It’s soul-eroding, wordless being.
It’s pathologic to have too few words.
It should be a medical directive
Under the auspices of mental health
If it’s not already global aphasia.
How can you not have words
And the world be made of language?
Finding a lost ball
Was the mystery of it all.
A rolling ball gives pace
To otherwise static space.
A passed ball expects reciprocation.
At the least, consideration.
The ball struck with great force
Has no other recourse.
A ball that is bending
Is an instance of time pending.
Every ball in flight
Carries hope into light.
A ball touched by many
Has a spell cast already.
A ball that is caught
Vanishes from thought.
A ball thrown with precision
Is humankind in transition.
Though we can’t save the sun
With a ball we can make it run.
My father wanted extra time
But the sun rolled over the line.
The referee blew her whistle
Like winter through a thistle.
The ball bounced off the post
Like the spirit from the host.
The penalty was missed
Like a vision in the mist.
In extra time my father thought
Time’s flight itself is caught,
But like a shooting star
Extra time was naught.
When a watch stops on a book
Something has been overlooked.
The car battery gone dead
Means you can never get ahead.
A dull ache in your knee
Means gravity is not for free.
A button falling off a shirt
With others is in concert.
A name you have spoken
Returns from time unbroken.
The sequence of the numbers
Repeat the numbers of the sequence.
Existence is creation’s coincidence
And being’s kiss from a dream’s abyss.
for Ahmad Gholami and musicians everywhere
If it has only ever known cruelty
How can the soul be solvent?
Without music the soul hardens,
The heart staggers in arrears to its assets,
Brutality has no solutes
With which to dissolve into compassion.
To be soul solvent is not a music-less song.
To be soul solvent is a solution,
To love is the distillation of evolution,
To sing is the soul’s joy in salvation.
They cut off the head of music,
The body continued to sound out.
They cut off its arms, it tapped its feet.
They filled it with molten metals,
Music rang out like a bell.
They burned all the instruments,
Music sang in the fire, mocking them.
A decade of teeth eating hearts,
You can feel vileness spewing,
Like being unbaptized into hate
By aspersoriums of acidic waters,
By words used as weapons,
The determined dissimulation
Of propaganda into vox populi,
Garbled garbage recycled
As word meat for the ravenous.
Can’t you hear the gibbering
Of the ape stuck in the man?
Can’t you hear the road rage
In the cataclysms to occur?
Teeth eating hearts, eating money,
Eating the flesh of the earth…
All of us, enemies of each other
And enemy of one’s own self
In the language wherein we’re born.
The weightlifter fails
Under the weight of whales.
The pole vaulter
Climbs a ladder of water.
That beautiful physique
And yet being’s hide-and-seek.
With all that training
The spirit is yet straining.
At the limit of plasticity
A gymnast attains divinity.
To the stillness of speed
A sprinter must concede.
Against the elements
The athlete seeks a settlement.
The fencer feigns a thrust
And the foil turns to rust.
On the balance beam
The wrestler finds
He grapples with another mind.
For Javier Sotomayor
Height was a metaphor.
For Mike Powell
Distance was conceptual.
In stories that are told,
In shadows that are gold,
On medals that are made
Transcendence is engraved.
Here the reeds breathe us in and out
Like the green lungs of a Godhead whale
And on the waters the wind lays down
Its face like the imprint of transience.
The boardwalk steps under our steps
On its way to where we’re going,
Like the marsh’s rolling, nudges the root
That keeps the stillness flowing.
Where every step goes into nowhere
But observation’s proximity to nature,
The waters reflect us, the reeds open,
We’re comprehended by inclusion.