Category Archives: Cycles

“The ‘Once’, the ‘Ever'”

…dedicated to Hermann Bloch
1 November 1886– 30 May 1951
“”I shall not die of a cold. I shall die of having lived.”

“The ‘Once’, the ‘Ever'”

The once, the ever, standing in the atrium must burn;
The nexus of the meeting of the feeble lamps are lit as Virgil sits alone,
The flint stone at the confluence of the rivers; a tone
Once heard, a trace no more than words. Ever then discerns
A wisdom in the lengthening of days on end;
A reconciliation of the first sun’s now within
The pale of the last night’s then and all its many-eyed kin;
The End, scintilla of a notion’s distant toast:
“To Cæsar!” Distractions in the movement defer to mortality, defend
The pattern as it is, the peoples’ choice, a proud
Morbidity based in universal song on this, a night of leaving, joy
On this, a day of meeting. Stars and verses, voids,
A universe of empty consummation never executed while clouds
Obscure the moon, as ever toils below;
Perspicuous, yes! the once and only suns express,
So dark a night as never and one more day of less.

.

Block’s Death of Virgil had to be the most ambitious reading of any single novel I have ever read with James’ The Ambassadors right up there with it, but a close second. The stimulus of both novels, however, is incomparable in value and I can suggest that anyone who values the language should read both of them at least once before death simply because they exist; as Everest has been for the mountain climbers, so both novels have been to anyone who reads and loves the language.

Block’s “Virgil” is not fun to read, but it represents an incomparable challenge and once conquered, a kind of badge of honour having braved the greatest storms of both prose and poetry that could be imagined short of blowing out the circuits of both.

With the James novel, it was said that it was his favourite, but apparently almost impenetrable to some readers of his time. To one “Lady ‘whomever’” who complained of this, he advised sticking with it and that once having arrived at a certain point in the narration, the specific gravity or gravitas of that novel would hit and the worth of the whole vindicated. And so it was; I had to read that novel page by page, reading each several times to get anything near clarity in what was being said or where the action of that novel was going. Then, one late afternoon, while cooling off from a very hot shower in preparation for going out for the evening, I decided to sit on my bed, pick up that novel and continue plugging away at it. Suddenly, there it was! A catharsis of unimaginable majesty that hit so hard that I almost cancelled my evening out in order to continue reading to the end. Great works are like that.

For me, there is no “fun” involved in reading, but the rewards are everlasting, something that is rare in the reading of secular prose. Block’s work is a combination of poetry and prose in a mixture I never thought possible until reading “Virgil,” and I cannot imagine now, an equal to this. My sonnet alludes to but one of the thoughts that seem to dance throughout that work in spite of laborious, endless poetry, all of which may be beautiful, but only in small doses like genuine truffles; like chocolate, there are some things in this world that are “legal” but close to lethal in effects, and Block’s “Virgil” comes quite close to that.

 

“Yes, of Course”

“Yes, of Course”

Yes, of course, it’s in the silences, the gaps; what isn’t there,
A kind of saving grace. Yes, it’s in the wrist and more, a second
Maiden voyage. The news announces daily the Titanic’s jocund
Journey redux, greater for revision less the ware
And less absorbing in the loss of souls from rarer thinner air
Brought faithfully to task but mind you nonetheless a reckoning
Within a construct; no! an edifice of remembrances within the seconding
Of resolutions that determines Elliot’s wave within the self-defining stare
Of relative modernity; but one tsunami in eternity amid the voids of space.
The promise of redemption’s found in balances of degrees
In praise of beauty in the sun spots’ mighty aura, the aurora in the fray
Of loose inebriating Northern Lights–try distraction while you pray–
Try the Northwest Passage in the making high above the Arctic’s former grace
Notes, rhythms in the writ, a metaphor in G, perhaps, but played in C.

“There was peace and the world had an even tenor to it’s way. Nothing was revealed in the morning, the trend of which was not known the night before. It seems to me that the disaster about to occur was the event, that not only made the world rub its eyes and awake, but woke it with a start, keeping it moving at a rapidly accelerating pace ever since, with less and less peace, satisfaction and happiness. To my mind the world of today awoke April 15, 1912. – Jack Thayer, Titanic Survivor

“Kenesis”

“Kenesis”

Kinesis for
The many who remain to wait
Silently for some benign constriction in the state
Of things, some sinister situation in the molten core
Of what it is they hope that God forgets to do or say.
Oh, yes. There are the borders to defend,
Concessions, lights within the processed prisms bend
And warp–so many suns are strong–schemes to calculate
With nests to build and chicks to feed,
but come the harvest, guests, the gathering
And celebration, the stories to be sold across the newsstands of the land,
The hands all sit here waiting with the others in the band
And ask themselves why grace and bounty seem so much like common tragedy
When in the once desired brilliance of the promised summer’s yield
The time for satisfaction never comes and the crop’s left in the field.

“Disconnect the Vowels”

“Disconnect the Vowels”

Disconnect the vowels, then, read what’s left
Within the strophe that makes sense to you; leave
Judgments by the door. Wear no sleeve
On which to pin a sentiment nor shibboleth bereft
Of common sense because the urgent cause
For which the precious ointment was adopted long ago
No longer finds its use. Justly, as it should, in isolated slow
Progress through generations, the hoary stories pause
As literary cusps on scrolls between cycles’ broader strokes
Stoke what it is we know or think we know, or what all know as lies.
The verdicts will, of course, disguise themselves as scripture in the eyes.
And do you think so handsome gilded spokes
Of wheels as cycles’ pillars, circumferences to cover centuries of fears
So fragile that words inscribed in tears will touch the hearts and reach the ears?

…a revision of the poem…”Swept Aside”

…a revision of the poem…

“Swept Aside”

Swept aside, all moments and celestial mementos collide
And waste no never-mind on credence and retention
In the wake of greater cosmic rinds and supine celestial reflection.
Mortality by definition lies; not so through what histories imply
But in the daily interaction of missives from the Goal
And penultimate ilunga * of the Source or
Sanctions of interaction in the triumphant triad of the coarsest
Ores of time, of space, and all that matters. Time, the cosmic linen folds
Of space and active order; space, the theatre of experience at the heart
Of the observer; matter, but an audience, a phenomena in passive
Active shadows of Creation and its nemesis. Simplicity is massive,
Complexity but a word; a question’s languages are art
And science while the answers form the pathos and the abstract.
What is more pathetic than to be and yet be nothing in the act?
Simplicity in the classic form requires
The prefects of a perfect vacuum
Combined in such a way as compliments the acumen
Of a strident meme, the jealous zeitgeist, tests that to the whole inspire
An urgent need to pause, to linger over bodies no longer really there,
A little more than a half a generation’s substance in a given time.
So granted this, so beautifully and tragically resigned,
Aloud comes the elegies of episodes to “Move along!”or “Retire!”
With such a cry inscribed, there was and always is
A here and there in rapid profit worshipped, fierce
As gallstones of desperation: “This, our chosen age, rehearsed
Upon a cross of memories little more than lyrics of an ancient tryst!”
And, equally, the many crowned and catalogued, remain aloof
Through symmetries of perfection in a sacred dynasty of embroidered truth.

*The word is ilunga, 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

“Nothing’s Censured”

“Nothing’s Censured”

Nothing’s censured, everything’s gained they say
and choice is all there is and all that’s human.
Cycles shift as do devotion
and commitment and we are glad and sad
As fits emotion and the glory of the stars;
December’s fads
are gone by February, January’s gains illumine
What’s to come in cloistered gusts
that blight the staggered laughter of a spring’s reality.
As autumn’s indiscretions rush to judgement of the past
Occluded by the soul’s embarrassed need
to face the present last,
And yield a future’s wanton wastes
in raw October’s costs and call it natural morality.

Of course, all the world’s put right within
a pale Pink Moon’s delight and we are here tonight
And know damn well we’re gone tomorrow from the diaries of the estuary;
Dawn’s first kiss–the eternal pardon–will arrive behind the execution day,
Delayed a single hour for the sake of show and mere appearances, flights
Of angels sprinkling  spores of wonder in the newly pollinated skies. We’ve lied
Again  and while we ponder why it matters only heaven knows we tried.

“Summer Like the Lion”

“Summer Like the Lion”

Summer like the lion has so little time;
Reflections on horizons only seem at rest,
Refractions, hungers in the higher grasses are at best
A blind, a routine introspection, attest to sun and pride,
Alike as natural season’s slightest change rewards the prey
Of both with perspicuous signs and insecurities but nonetheless
Concrete enough to cause a wonder in the every power; less
Than single clouds occlude the sun, the slightest hint of grey
Upon the main, both signal gain and loss. Clearly crowned,
They have no equal in selection’s schemes
Save Death, itself, yet each pays out in measured penalties. Extremes
In greatness and renown sustain but reasons, diadems and crowns
Subject to circumstance of cycles in the main—in means
A certain end—in cosmic tragedies beyond the need of seasons.

“I Turned Around”

“I Turned Around”

I turned around and found that they were gone,
Swarms, the chorus of bovine hacks and seekers, friends,
And, yes, of course, the teachers with certificates in the trend–
I, but one of many minions–a catalogue, a myriad of martial songs
In sync, a jihad of rhythm and cadence in specific cacophony,
As comes the nightly roaring of the lions in the thickets of what
Is neither fact nor fiction;  wickets for just another cue, a cut
Above, or so it’s thought, but addressed in distraction and destiny
Of dispensations’ delivered duties bound to mortal schools and rules
That pass so aimlessly through the ancient sieve of marble verse
Garnished with proviso and caveat , the business of a thousand terse
And cryptic observations so confidently voiced by just as many fools.
And I woke up one spring day with leaving on my mind,
And more than reason to believe that someone must be lying.
Answers in the tealeaves, sheaves appear before the harvest
Is gathered; there within the dross, a saline silence in solution.
Questions, masked, bitters in the waters provide ablutions
To the touch; dissolved, a saviour to the rites of moot investment
In what must come when will is spent.
And what of proceeds, pensions, dubious transactions
Boxed and packaged in the cards, admiring factions
That succumb to givens in the deck? The rent
Is paid, the covenants are honoured, and here again,
The possibilities drown within themselves. When Vonnegut died
There came a deadly pause and then applause (denied
Of course, but heard) from every semi-colon on the plains
“Just so,” the concourse wails, “What now will you write?”
“What the ink,”‘s reply, “and which the nib,
and who’s the audience tonight?”