Category Archives: Immortality

“Perhaps Too Obscure”

“Perhaps Too Obscure”

Perhaps too obscure, absolutes, prerogatives, profits,
Relatives, feathers of the phoenix–costly downs for pillows,
Materials for bedding–indeed the silhouette
Of controversy in the bower prohibits
Poesy from kneading souls and seeding requisites
For immortality with mortal flaws and fatal shallow
Pools designed for poets such as these that wallow
In the larder oblivious to dangers, intrinsic
Natural blinds to tar pits where only fugitives
Attempt to flee from what is evident in destiny.
Notice neither freedom for the bird nor fish
To feed them gather here; unheeding species. Lavish
Ignorance and wanton lust are lost on adjectives
Whose ontogeny merely seeks but life and progeny.

“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.

 

“This You Chose”

“This You Chose”

This you chose, you know, the lethal wound, external fire,
Internal final cut the cleanest; the choice was never mine.
This you chose; your arms, your scent defined
The borders, walls, the floors, the exposure. Your desires
Say nothing past the yesterdays of pre-dawn, and glad
I was to rest the while, and glad you are that I am gone.
But nothing’s rendered in the late night’s song,
The me in you, and yes! You know the sad
Result: that moon’s pain can not know a sequel.
The senses, these you know , with no contempt,
But radiant resignation in the hours of heat and pure idolatry. Spent,
The sentence stands within this world. These final sentiments rule;
The veil, the truths we’ve always known; the hourglass, the idols of our nights,
Its sands, a closing hush of breath at daybreak when all our meteors take flight.

“So Easy to Feel”

“So Easy to Feel”

So easy to feel, to seem to be, to know at last propinquity
As if the light declares the coming glory of the sun at daybreak
Redundant. But as that disk cannot be seen for more than seconds, I take
That certainty of coming morning within me,
Knowing that midnight’s richest prize in ivory
Is forever fixed as is the station of the sun; the moon an intimate
In someone’s flight, perhaps, but even so, as she reveals herself in states
And phases never hers, agitation gains nothing in the motion save in memory
And affectations of the sea within me–force upon another force,
Measured consequence of a functionary that renders boundaries
Of continental pride and the ocean’s doors
Cast aside in the riot of the tides, a natural stampede, no more
Than thresholds of natural accident, the stream and river’s course
Now rising, now again a swelling to apostrophes, eternal inertia born of gravity.

“Sonnet in Honour of the Feast of Kamál or “Perfection”

Bahá’ís throughout the world gather today within the First Day of the Month of Kamál [Perfection] to celebrate the first day of the Bahá’í Month of Kamál.

“Sonnet in Honour of the Feast of Kamál or “Perfection”

Perfections and brief mortality lag for moments in a guarantee
Beyond the waiting grave; even in the womb, fluctuations
At the departure gate defy instinct and extinction in comic reproduction
Of the maelstrom. Carnivores in chaos renew the glaring tragedies
Of immortality as does sleep, a nightly purgative to all dreams.
Propinquity reviewed in bold idyllic matter turns matter to energies
In physical perception, penned at the pleasure of humanity–
The beverage curious and exotic–the poets’ ink ensuring every species’
Flourishing beyond the naked flesh of bodies in the simple rite of birth.
Apoapsis and the periapsis of the peoples’ need from the outer steppes
Of gravity and evolution to the thing desired,
re-created, wild and sculpted blossoms
Of the promise of ends in all beginnings,
millennia, themselves but steps
beyond the fallible suspicion of man or book,
the good shaman’s vain and futile search.
Yet even here, the contemplation
of a bowl of hemlock, perhaps to think:
If I fast forever, so will I dream as long;
and if I thirst forever,
Then, as surely I will someday drink.

“That We Fall Is Natural”

“That We Fall Is Natural”

That we fall is natural; that we rise, elephantine.
The elemental flow of oceans cannot be
A thing so scripted in the stones nor greater than it seems,
But ever-striving, ever-writhing, natural peaks declining,
Irreconcilable in their conniving, twice and more desired falling
In or toward Themselves, the Mothers of all Waters, yes. Rivers
Die and are reborn at once–revivals in their streams and noted divers
Books, catalogued as tributaries and watersheds–calling
And recalling from a moonstruck swollen pinnacle
even to the least and last most holy drop.
Confucius* said it long ago that greatest glories
Come not so much in never falling, but in histories
Of revision, sublimes in tectonic prodigies at the mountaintop.
Little wonder save to mortals what the matter is;
energy is the bright selective gleam
Of noble souls who
like the stream, the river, the brook,
must at last rejoin the sea.

*Confucius B.C. 551-479

“Leave Me?”

“Leaving?”

Leaving? His, the dreams? His, these choice and tender tones, all
Too little too late for those who will be sooner told what is
By those who cannot hear His melody, His
Several Announcements, yes! The heart turns not to the call
For walls but to creation in itself, as scribbled on the slates
Signed upon the obverse in sundry  geometric redundancy. Obliquely seen
We spy the models, traces, outlines, former dispensations, the obscene
Graffiti of the worldly scribbled in  a clay-bound plate.
This? Not He in This, no! but That; the earth
Born in caul, the offal left, his mother’s goal is realised, her manifesto declared.
The promise of penultimate breath echoes in the Text with nothing spared.
Patient in patience, lover of all present laughter, the child, eternal mirth–
Of course–is etched in slates and scales beyond the present worried worm;
As from the womb, to this He comes so far; so too, to that He must return in Spiral motions, springs, and in the riverlets of natural seconds, tiny buds
Aligned within themelves with all the other benchmark orbs
And gentle points of sweeping reference. Our symmetry absorbs
The oddity of growth in worldly and arbitrary minutes: as the muds
Decree, the hills agree and we are of course its sands and random beaches.
Numberless and unadorned, emerging abstracts form our concretes,
Limpid liquids recreate themselves as pliant canyons, sculpted palaces; discrete
Particles mustered in battalions to address themselves as crystals, breaches
In the granite veins that will allow the light in time to pass on through.
And as we stand disarmed in deaf amazement, we ponder
What natural majesties must certify the ruby and the emerald to wander
Disingenuous, impervious to cost through sapphire dusts in cosmic spectacle too
Wondrously created to be seen with contaminated eyes
As all arrive or nothing comes to mind and our own sweet surprise.

“Look To It, Friend!”

“Look To It, Friend!”

Look to it, friend! Some call it time,
Others less than seconds, others, singularity,
And at the least a mystery, perhaps an incongruity
Within the maze of observations and variations on the rhyme,
Some weathered moss-lined steps ascending forest temples
and the sacrifice of wine for blood in isolated shrines.
Argue, then,  what it means to be an onion or the teapot’s spout.
They say, “Speak more plainly, flesh it out!”
And scarcely is the thought expressed than a paradigm, a scion
Of the times declares, “Not at all,…it’s in the wrist!”
Setbacks scatter as sands of many mountains
Leveled by long forgotten storms; something close to fountains
Swell from everlasting hotspots, springs, and lethal mists
Of natural fraud and tragic truths misplaced, misguided, and disgraced
By mortality set to music while eternity’s forgotten or left to waste.

“The Peace, That Is

“The Peace, That Is”


The peace that is, some sense of fortune, love

Of life, that is, the promises that dwell in hearts
Whose beacon is the present.  Darts
And shafts, phantoms’ arrows, doves
Of superstition and the flights of eagles not yet dreamed
Become the weights of weariness, embellished chains of thoughts,
Of past and distant memories; all these are. The nought’s
Outweigh the should’s, the clarion chorus of what seems
Will drown the melody of what is as patently, the past
Is nothing more than magnification of future’s cold deception.
Certainly, who’s to know but that at conception
What was sure to be could never really last
And what endures is petrified in quicksands of false alarms
Because we dwell so near the morning’s light and yet so far.

“Settle It In Yourself”

“Settle It In Yourself”

Settle it in yourself what it is I am.
And so I’ll always be, whether in the present
Mist or at some future bridge, a resident
Of residue and exigency. The man
I am abides the evident and final verdict.
Of course, you’ll turn the page, perhaps,
And possibly discard the volume on your lap
For tomes of better binding, fresher leaves, a sweeter sap
Than blood through veins; a shot of déjà vu within a wider habitat.
Still, it falls to you to test the afterthought, abide
The whole, and to this end both of us were born.
Forgetfulness is sound advice; while in a cage a single page is torn
From some eternal book and words enough remain to satisfy
The need to let it rest between us, firmly stated, fully formed:
We face the same eternity and once created cannot be outworn.