Thursday, January 29, 2015

90 Proof

God exists, and if God exists, therefore God exists. 
Syllogistic conclusion, conclusive. 
A mother dies—a few minutes after, a chime
on the porch chimes. “It’s mother saying, ‘All
is okay. I’ve passed over.’” Her son, a nonbeliever, 
succumbs. He reiterates: “Yes, it’s mom,” he says
to his grieving siblings. And then catches

Sand flows upward in an hour glass,
is contagious. Mystery codified is
doubly contagious.
It’s evolutionary, the son concludes, rather than 
mystery. Mystery is hopeless. Nonmystery 
is acceptance.
Humans do not accept.

There are no atheists in foxholes, goes
the cliché. That there are foxholes at all
is indisputable, unquestionable: Foxholes exists, 
and if foxholes exist, therefore foxholes exist. 
Can a foxhole be unproved? 

We are born blank, then quickly
swathed. To be seeded human is to be
seeded unhuman, inhuman. There are
no starting points for the individual. One must
flow upward first, like the sand in the hour glass,
but we know sand does not flow upward. 

Hope springs eternal . . . hmm . . . . We do not 
allow facts
to interfere with tradition, wrote Orwell . . . 
somewhere. And if there are no facts,
merely observations? Tradition binds, 
questions do not.

Mankind seeks indefinite life. Why?
A crocodile doesn’t. How many angels can
dance on the head of a pin?
But are there angels? 
There are pins, so there must be angels.

I, too, am susceptible. I, too, am afraid.
People obliterated in wars, floods, 
they must go somewhere. Life cannot
be so dismissive.

I watch a gaggle of 
Muslin girls—shopping for clothes.
They’re amazingly innocent. But
they stick together. They’re
duplicates, triplicates, and so on: protected. 
Like the Hasidim
in their black suits in 90-degree weather,
the Catholic clergy in their gold wrappings.
Buddha in his belly. All’s right with the world. 

Evolution, the son says. What has
evolved? Fear? Can it be that simple? 
And if it is that simple? 
I wonder.

I can get by, but I knock on wood . . . 
on occasion.
What else can I do?
Imitation. No, not despair.
Imitation. We are solitary but
of a species. And we know it. But that, 
too, is mythologized: It’s a punishment 
to be human, damnation . . . psychosis    
or evolution?

Sunday, January 18, 2015


Flat, frontal, the tree reduced to patterns
so that it blends in with its background 
and can barely be distinguished. Start out
with a motif and repeat and repeat it
until it is no longer itself but a sequence of
disturbances. Yet there is order in commonality,
in that even the most spectacular of compositions
can serve as a coaster—I have one under my glass 
of Fundador now. Which is to say that art 
is doubly useful.

“Let’s sit down, I hear melody,” says Piet to his dancing
partner. Improvisation, syncopation, rhythm, you 
begin with a yellow, a square, a demarcation, and
then let go, a membrane of color until you have
identified not so much yourself but those longing
around you and lead them not to where you are going
although you are not going anywhere, 
having already arrived—and it has taken you years—
not of traveling, but of standing still. 

Piet germinates
in his own habitat, a studio that is actually a
sentient Mondrian, with sliding panels of 
primary colors he can coordinate according
to his mood, abstracting himself as in he were 
an element in his own painting so at every moment he
is Mondrian in a Mondrian, a continual self-affirmation 
that all of us who can still crave crave for but relinquish 
so readily, hardly aware that one can always say yes.

Friday, January 2, 2015


           In truth the prison, into which we doom
           Ourselves, no prison is . . .
                                       —William Wordsworth
                                          "Nuns fret not . . . ." 

The steel tube men
breathe shallowly in like an iron lung.
Killer of thought,
the long hours compacted into cubicles like
shelved books, its occupants
neither heave nor sigh in the silence
where the slightest sound
prickles their skin.

They suffocate
on mountains where the particles
of air are too far apart,
and only in compartments compressed
by the pressure of eons do they locate
and instant of themselves.

"It's better to heed than design"
they must have muttered to themselves
sometime on the spaciousness of the roads
that led in so many directions.
They forked over the hours like 
stripped down to the bare essentials,
were rewired and reconstituted like
waterless powder.

The lack of necessity is compelling.
Full throttle ahead, the submerging
and rising of the conning tower
is constancy they can chalk up on a wall.

Leave the boilers for the contractors
who shine up the old ones and sell
them for new. No thought here for profit,
merely the poetry of pure service,
the abstraction of the cloister, the 
counting up till the ten-hour pass,
the apprehension of the 
weight of too much liberty.