Monthly Archives: May 2011

“Simply Disappeared”


Iranian National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Irán that “disappeared” in 1980

“Simply Disappeared”

Siimply disappeared; what we thought were fears
The bitter heat of rancid nights and silent alabaster days.
We wept for what we thought they lost and all the praise
And salutation in the aft of what is thought today:
have we wound our watches?
When we cross these final turnstiles,
Do we somehow? So bright the ivory prison tiles
In lines to be apprised and counted and each a view
Of hope; well, after all, the goal of every queue
Is evidence, the martyrs’ rites of passage, wailing walls,
Temples long ago destroyed and worshipped aptly in the fall,
While in the report and repartée we appear to stand enthralled
With promises of exoteric meaning, and esoteric premises of ease.
In these three years has anybody wept for us at Evin as in the time
Remembering Badí’s missive blessings condign?

Bádí, 17-year-old executed for delivering Bahá’u’lláh’s letter to the Sháh

* Evin Prison, an especially notorious and infamous prison in Iran.

“Legs”

“Legs”

Legs scream from disuse; interests
Never wane nor is there lack
Of resource to occupy the early morning hours; tact
Required is not so much in natural proclivities but tests
Produce no lasting gain, neither does it rest
With me to exercise the tongue nor double back
To quarterlies or turn the nightly critics’ wrack
Of sacrificial lambs upon the spits of bourgeois poets at best.
What’s needed here is something never hitherto dreamed
In me, a note within the notes to cauterise the day’s addenda:
A slight nod, a subtle indication from the heart
That what’s required here’s no literary arrow, no gift of art
To clear the plumbing, irrigate the tired eyes, pump iron into the stream
But the simple act of walking: yes, it’s time to stretch the legs,
place circulation above all mental circumlocution on the agenda.
…but of course, today it’s raining…

“Swept Aside”

“Swept Aside”

Swept aside; moments and celestial movements collide
And waste no never-mind for credence and retention
In the wake of greater cosmic rinds and supine moot reflection.
Mortality lies; not so, what histories provide
But in the daily interaction of missives from the Goal
And penultimate illunga * of the Source or
Sanctions of reaction to the triad of coarser
Ores of time, space, and matter. Time, an active order within the folds
Of space; space, the arena of experience within the heart
Of the observer; matter, phenomena in the passive
And reactive shadow of Creation and its antithesis. Simplicity is massive,
Complexity’s absurd; the question’s languages are art
And science while those of answers gloat on pathos and the abstract.
What is more pathetic than to be and yet be nothing in the act?

*The word is illunga, from the Bantu language of Tshiluba, and means a person ready to forgive any abuse for the first time, to tolerate it a second time, but never a third time.


When there is this, that is.
With the arising of this, that arises.
When this is not, neither is that.
With the cessation of this, that ceases.

His Holiness The Buddha

“Fresh Paint”

“Fresh Paint”

Fresh paint, delicious lines, the objects redefined
And realigned from nothing in the mists; no finer thought
Than that the world is endless richness; vermillion sought
In blush against the blue, refined to purple, lined
In yellows; blackest soils blessed with green, and roses
Flourish in a russet sunset; pinks, the thinnest lips
Of kittens, endless movement, combinations, strips
And bands of speckled whiskers in the hours clothed
In what might be seduction to the blind, but in the child,
Delight, and even more, an endless glee
For every least discovery of felicity,
The presentation of a simple wonder in the wild,
A soothing leisure of a field of fragrance to the eyes,
To the mind a vision, to the hour a passing smile.

“A Simple Chemistry”

“A Simple Chemistry”

A simple chemistry, the day, the night,
And what of course is never meant to be;
But still the hope is there, the simile
That never quite transforms a noun nor quite
Contents itself in action, so never mind a verb.
But, then what a change of heart is there.
Reaction taut, willingness, a kind of gas, an air
Of great and greater expectations that serves
No more than casual attention yet is so deadly. No, of course,
It cannot come to this. But, yes, eventually it does.
And with the cat’s release, it must.
The thing is there to see, to feel, to taste. The horse
Before the cart, perhaps, but nonetheless, a paradigm of waste,
And with each fine turning of the wheel the love of wanton haste.

A word concerning something of the meaning of the sonnet “This Earthly Vision”:

A word concerning something of the meaning of the sonnet “This Earthly Vision” [below] in response to a comment made about it:

 

My experience tells me that when it comes to the material realities of life, whether prey or prey animals, all are, of course, confined within the limits of a simple corporeal existence, or, in short, all must in the end expire.  Certainly, at my age, the possibilities of this are multiplying by the hour.  At the same time, however,  having acknowledged the existence of potential decay, there is a grace and comfort well within the affordable grasp of anyone advanced in years that brings this knowledge to a more positive conclusion than may be nightly broadcast by the media concerning the latest examples of ethnic cleansing or mass murder with a view toward genocide, on the collective level, and, as individuals, the increasing incidence of examples of predatory behaviour or of what might almost be thought of as a tragic reaction of lethargy and apathy to the same within one’s own social class or group or nation whether amongst the leaders or the population at large. Rare is the soul or single example of exception to what appears to be the rule of outrageous overweening ambition or its equal, a disingenuous yet equally militant adaptation of humility in the face of opposition of any kind both of which can be spiritually and even mentally lethal without some form of moderation.

Childbirth, itself, introduces the sometimes dreaded but welcome realities of pain for both the mother so assuredly blessed and the child so obviously cursed;  the mother smiles in joy at her newborn after her ordeal in part due to relief at safe delivery but more assuredly the effects of what she has accepted in certitude in the miracle of conception and in the subsequent birth of her child while the newborn’s happiness and contentment once out of the womb and into the open seasons of physical life may or may not produce a smile but inevitably marks the beginning of a lifetime of growth through pain and suffering such that he, too, may one day feel a lasting joy beyond simple reaction or the whim and weakness of childhood’s innocence, with the reassurance and certitude garnered and nurtured within the grown man or woman that this singular pain of existence, no matter how periodic or constant is what it is for a reason and not at all beholding to mere accident or the caprice of infancy, childhood, or what the general population calls “callow youth.” 

Such reasons and realizations are forever beyond the mind or physical senses but ever so obvious to the soul of any least being who in fact possesses spiritual faculties granted and confirmed within through an ever-increasing knowledge, force-fed or otherwise, and the generous quota and allowance of never-ending experience in a potent conspiracy that leads anyone with eyes to see or ears to hear to the gradual mistrust of all senses and consumption in the realisation of whatever happiness is presumed to be possible, a condition always limited, always governed by the laws of supply and demand and its neighbours, the laws of diminishing returns. If a man escapes the prison of his own self and his own people both of which are infinite and unchecked in desire and entirely destitute of ultimate satisfaction by reason of their instrumental dependence on the laws of nature and the instincts of the same, by default he will discover an ascendency which is at once both infinite and free of appetite and therefore liberated from the need of self gratification and satisfaction. Through this ascendency he will experience  a constancy in the revelation of the supra-corporeal greatness of his own creation matched and made co-equal with its natural inevitable conversion into perceivable, even invincible  action as he witnesses the same within himself grown far beyond his own vain imaginings. Wedded to this is the multiplication of the majesty and powers of his own being willingly drowned in the greater purposes of his own kind and by extension beyond this singular and collective power all such ambition and submission become necessarily dwarfed immediately and perceivably by a conscious interaction with the Creation and its Creator.  In short, he discovers the endless presence of a certitude in his own being matched with that of mankind, both of which are far removed from the reach of opinion, reason, or any other mortal stimulus. 

I bear witness, O my God, that Thou hast created me to know Thee and to worship Thee. I testify, at this moment, to my powerlessness and to Thy might, to my poverty and to Thy wealth. There is none other God but Thee, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting. ―Bahá’u’lláh

It is incumbent upon every man of insight and understanding to strive to translate that which hath been written into reality and action…. That one indeed is a man who, today, dedicateth himself to the service of the entire human race. The Great Being saith: Blessed and happy is he that ariseth to promote the best interests of the peoples and kindreds of the earth. In another passage He hath proclaimed: It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens. ―Bahá’u’lláh

Both prey and predators in this world are innocent and unaware of anything further than birth to life to death and their absolute connection with one another; this innocence and ignorance is common to all levels of material existence from the mineral to the vegetable to the station of the animal and equally, crucially to that of man and mankind, itself. Whether as a witness to a single soul’s glorious destiny or to the collective magnificence of a divine civilization, these creations in concert transcend the incidentals of any given life or history, and such esoteric knowledge as exposure of either to the ignorant and without the benefit of education inevitably descends to a level of hell beyond the imagination or the naïveté of the individual or his collective peers. Such esoteric knowledge becomes exoteric the instant any soul or people comes to know and understand not so much the nature of physical creation, but the realities of their respective spiritual destinies, destinies which by default exceed the combined powers of the entire known physical universe.  I suspect that something of this was to be understood when The Christ said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” *

*John 16:33 [King James Version 1734]

“This Earthly Vision”

“This Earthly Vision”

This earthly vision has no sequel–traces of blessed tealeaves,
I suppose–perhaps a some day catalyst for random thoughts in minutes
In the aftertaste, little more. My sometime friend, the spider spins his
Web and hopes but can depend on nothing more; his weave
Is carelessly placed in a vacant room where nothing flies,
And nothing’s gained–I do believe that no one knows
What spiders gain in being there.
Flaming blue, the floes
On Northern Seas achieve as much for all the seals in mating season while It lies
To fate and sorry accident arranged or possibly ordained that in their time
The innocence of hapless polar bears sows ancient annual paths with dangers,
Weeds of freedom there among the jagged swords, the Arctic winter’s rage or
Where smelt and herring are the food of something even greater hidden, divine
And very much alive; all are victims. All are caught,
seduced by lethal circumstance within the tundra’s crystals’ crisis spread
Of rich absurdities and matchless ironies of living freely here among the dead.

“Plans; the Summer Vapours”

“Plans; the Summer Vapours”

Plans; the summer vapours through livings while they last
And wonders of a sudden clime where suns beat furiously through
The year and winters never come. They share eternities and views
Of strife that feed on life, or then again, the days become the year, the past
Is yesterday buried in deposits, today, in streams of sweat and constant growth.
He’ll never know, of course, because his choice prefers the seasons
To the season and the many to single lives they breed. His sanity his reason
Tempered only by the change of venue, moods by grace bestowed,
And whom he’ll know for just a little while. Loneliness; no.
Alone, but, yes, of course, and is there any better company
Than what just came strolling down the lane or some symphony
That’s never finished, what was heard but moments in the rain? The “lo!”
The turning of a page and there scribbled in the margin
The word, the phrase that spoke but once is missing in the bargain.
And once again, the rocking chair is carelessly placed
There beside the balcony rail along with some makeshift table,
Discarded relics from a marriage vow, so worn, so outcast yet so able
To the task and uses of a former front page story from a case
Of misplaced destiny and that last unbroken glass. I stir the brew with ease,
The instrument an orphan from the spoons
she used in warm Nebraska noons and jars
Let years ago to contemplate the morning
beneath the clothesline by my mother’s hand:
A bag or two, the backyard sun, and some few hours to see
Three gallons full of topaz in the fridge; scars,
Perhaps, or something dear, a badge of honour
In the meaning; I was of one of hers. She’s gone the distance so much farther
While the mighty Platte’s gone shallow, but magic brews within my hardened
Heart’s plucked tranquilities in hyacinths of memory and thinking deeply on her
Comes as simple as lemon laced with sugar in the brew, and afternoons in amber.

A word of caution…when I was still living at home with Mom and Dad, there was nothing quite like the sun tea my mother made; it was always perfect, it was always fresh because she made it every day in a two or three-gallon jar with two teabags left in the sun for several hours. Delicious as it was (and probably still is) it has been learned of late that it is not a good idea to let the sun do the trick on the tea; it sits there at just the right temperature to allow the nurturing of bacteria in the water and the tea leaves normally eliminated by the longer but more healthy boiling of the water to make the tea. I was surprised to learn this; yes, well, obviously I escaped from my parents kitchen (or backyard where she left the sun tea to brew) and am still alive to tell the tale. As a matter of fact, I don’t remember ever hearing of anyone getting sick in my hometown or in my state from what they caught from drinking sun tea, and of course, my mother would never have served me anything that would harm me….but of course, there was always my Aunt Lillian’s fried chicken…and Mary Kitchen hash….by the case….

“Quietus”

“Quietus”

Quietus on the ramparts, days are calm;
Some business among bees. Their range,
Their commerce gives no hint of change
That’s coming; gravitas and ancient gravity,
daily prayer and psalms,
And possibly a pause from labours of the dawn
Take full advantage of the fair exchange
Between future morning’s innocence
and the last evening hiatus of an age.
The former, order; the latter, industry,
what’s concluded, however, resolves
All profits greater to the glory of the queen exceed in sums
Of lessers than the whole in time; fractals in the seeds,
Satisfaction measures well in conjugations
that outlive the tyranny of verbs; the simple basis
Of natural order is perfected in the jewel of the species;
there is homeostasis
In what’s past and all that will be
and nothing in between may cease within the run
Of all indicative histories and subjunctive prophesies
as sure of eternity as the sun is guaranteed.

“I’ve Been Thinking”

“I’ve Been Thinking”

I’ve been thinking way too much these days;
The shock, you see, the awe of threshold’s reached
At sixty-six that tells me there’s so much to see
So little time to find a hook, another book, a snag, a sway
And banner suitable for framing, something like a booth, a stall,
The wherewithal to pass what little I’ve accumulated
To the next in line, the liberated
Mass of teachers staring blankly at the wall
They think they see before them, not at all inclined
To move an inch ahead, or fall behind the hour
Of their deliverance; the not-too-distant tower
Built of babbling and distraction twice toggled and misaligned
By hucksters for bovines, clever workshop shakers, and all divines
Who swear there’s still time to form a proper conga line!