Category Archives: Mortality

“Oh, I know”

“Oh, I know”

Oh, I know it”s been said before but bears repeating:
Unless a man embrace estates, his sense
Of eternity, his gifts of endless strife and goals of regret intense
Enough to merit periodic casual to shameless open weeping
In the corridors; unless the deadly abyss of every night’s sleeping’s
Prone to breach and rupture within his dreams or by the clock;
unless ‘neath the lens,
His page is thus combustible by the light focused upon a spot,
his joy depends
On something well beyond his own heart’s contumely,
his gates–his paradise, his weeping–
Fall well beyond the storehouse of his eyes and its catalogue of fears,
His light is changed to fire in tragedy and myths of talismans that guide his way.
Again, unless all this is welcomed well before the final hour, his pride will swell,
His vanity implode, and circumstance becomes
a euphemism for all he sees as hell.
Remember please that breath and breathing signify that death is ever near
And in these final years, satisfaction’s just another word for nothing left to pay.

“The Underside”

…dedicated to the many who wonder what’s become of all that is and where the bottom is…

“The Underside”

“‘The underside’ … it’s not just in tandem, ‘Once, it’s everywhere! … sigh …'”
And she was right. It seems the predilection toward
The animal appears where there is none; the tsunami’s force is froward
Where there is no place to go but straight to hell for all but those who fly
Or settle for a second-rate mortgage off the high road’s endless traffic.
And we along the shores of what’s become the greater sea who sit
And sign within ourselves no higher there, nor lower here, are aware of it:
There is no real rest from those who foment
Condescension to Creation, laced with lies
To trap the innocent, and revel in the vanishing point
Below the picture, well beneath the edges or between the joints
Of slender bones and tissues in the body politic; cries
Will rise for them and for their victims and their families,
The “taken”, “took” and “broken for which poets scribble homilies.

Once

“The tree outside the window taps very gently on the pane … I want to think quietly, calmly, spaciously, never to be interrupted, never to have to rise from my chair, to slip easily from one thing to another, without any sense of hostility, or obstacle. I want to sink deeper and deeper, away from the surface, with its hard separate facts. To steady myself, let me catch hold of the first idea that passes … Shakespeare … Well, he will do as well as another. A man who sat himself solidly in an arm-chair, and looked into the fire, so a shower of ideas fell perpetually from some very high Heaven down through his mind.”

The Mark on the Wall
Virginia Woolf
[1882-1941]

“Wife, child, brother, parents, friends…We come only to go apart again. It is one continuous movement. They move away from us, and we move away from them. The law of life can’t be avoided. The law comes into operation the moment we detach ourselves from our mother’s womb. All struggle and misery in life is due to our attempt to arrest this law or get away from it or in allowing ourselves to be hurt by it. The fact must be recognized. A profound unmitigated lonliness is the only truth of life.”

R. K. Narayan
[October 10, 1906 -- May 13, 2001]
(shortened from Rasipuram Krishnaswami Iyer Narayanaswami)
The English Teacher

“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.

“Sad You Say?”

“Sad You Say?”

Sad you say? I knew you meant it;
Yes, my sadness drained through your fingers
Leaving little more than moisture. Something of me lingers
With you that you own is yours. Summits
Of either joy or pain remain to use the heart, the limits
Of the body—anywhere will do—from head to toe; these, the singers
Intone its presence, equations flatter integers
Enough to anoint themselves exclusive in finite intimates
And variations for the sake of form.  These flights of melancholy
You mistook for yours; as well,  your joys I imagined mine  in the mirror,
And neither of us were the wiser in the final calculation.
If one of us is right, we’ll see our satisfaction and salvation
In what little time remains to us in life; the eternal holy
Light is never long in coming. If one of us is wrong,
…there is no deliverer.

“Pain”

“Pain”

Pain, and the Pacific has had its way, so many tears;
The summons; natural deities, rushing devotees of Southern waters
Join discords of the North and oceanic rivers feed because the glaciers falter.
Nai-no-Kami will no doubt dance. She needs not move far while fears
Of millions, fields and city gates are prey with every passing day.
We view their sighs and gestures, calmly watch and lunch on wonders
At the thought and misery that gorges on the plunder
Of laboured mountains duly noted while we dine. Mere screens relay
Our sympathies as surrogates before us mouth the news in bites, remote,
Confounding empathy of others with our own, and with no more thought
Than is required to vote or tolerate yet another tired announced affair
Convinced we’ve performed our sacred duties. Filtered sage suggestions float
Between commercials; who is dead, and who is dying?
We resign ourselves to daily schedules, and retreat
To mindless repetition, and support of yet another public brawl,
and trash what cannot be understood, change the channel and eat.

“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.

“Strident Moments”

A Firefly Moment

“Strident Moments”

Strident moments come as uninvited as
The telephone―those halting motions―stop.
Listen. But, must it ring?  He stands among the pines atop
What Easterners call their mountains, a willing witness held fast
By what he it is he sees and aware, somehow, of cold
Hard knowledge locked in granite thoughts. Awake, there is no place,
No haste when he is here. Here it is, the smell and taste
Of elusive space joined naturally with old
Odd familiar feelings that have no business
Being here. Hearing everything, he negotiates no streets
No alleyways, no place to park; no pavement meets
His feet, but there’s a kind of dizziness
In all this air that almost laughs at breathing.
He’s nowhere in particular and has no plans for  leaving.
He’s made the miles and truck stops all across the state
To feel the blessing of the eyes, the risen voice
Of one who cannot be moved; the choice
Is always his, oh yes, of course, and he’s arrived, and late
Enough each time to bear the weights of witnesses that his
Are not the eyes, nor his the sacred words
That anyone can use. He’s created nothing here and so he’s turned
The car around and while it may be circumspect, he’s heading home.
Then comes the once again, the call
Is always there, that Tennyson and Frost in all the walls,
That albatross of restlessness that bleaches clarity in tones
Of sepia and bronze and clothes the nakedness of all
Past memories perfumed in ancient rhyme. Silences make every room
A canyon trussed by random thoughts of
“Yes?” “Tonight?” or “Soon?”
His dreams define the miles within his skies, but goals
Are drowned within the pits, the bottoms, deadly dregs
Of what this world seeks to meet the eye; the festered eggs
To what in nature all become; foals
To what dark stallions then are bred?
He need not strain himself to know the truth of this,
And in his several steps he leaves no trace
Of what he’s become to mark his leaving of  the place.
Specialties and exhibits, the inner lining of the kiss
That one day brings up bubbles from the depths of every cauldron;
Progeny and circumstance, my friend! Mortality confirms in
No uncertain terms a many-hidden hydra and remorse
For what a man must abdicate when incident has run its course.

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…what’s this?  Yet another image [the one just above and not the pinecone...] filtched from Louvain95…?  Yes, it is, and yet again, an expression of admiration and thanks to this lady and her site for visual experiences. 
 

“The Age”

“The Age”

The age, the arc, the spectre of unspeakables
And contention; a single strike will kill, but with the honeybee
Comes purpose by the lot and ensured harmony,
Do not disturb!” and “Multiples; Invincibles!
Reluctantly, to be sure,  but timely come the constables,
Harbingers of an hour’s solemnity
And stark reminders of inevitable uncertainties—
“A step too far!” is heard, and while the intruder’s able,
The antidote comes in hosts, swarms
And spirits in the multiples and in the interim
Kindnesses in part to save the whole.
No bellicose delivery here, no spectacle of effort to console
The soul but simple missives bearing news of certified afflictions warn
Of death: “The hive or thee, my friend: the hive or thee; attend!”