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Thursday, 30 July 2020

Climbing the Holy Mountains

i.
these are the mountains 
so holy
their slopes are felt
as the difficulty of our days

ii.
near base camp
never straying far  
Wang Wei enjoys the sun’s color
cooling 
on the larches

it is peaceful
from far off you can hear
Rilke
restling his great lifelong angel

but I am looking for Traherne

Traherne?
likely off in some meadow
rolling around

I climb

iii.
what strange hills 
you can watch Tranströmer
despite everyone telling him not to
trade everything 
for a stone

and who is this anonymous
female poet
keeping a bird
in her pocket
made of ruby
o my god

I’m not sure how far it’s safe to go

iv.
half-way up
Bukowski’s eating roses
Hölderlin is piss-drunk
and Keats and Shelley are whistling
over top each other 

while Bashō, 
he calmly watches from his hut
playing his game of don’t-blink-first
with the world
I think

o Traherne! where are you?

suddenly Jack Gilbert 
steps out of the shadows 
challenges Bashō to a fight and
immediately begins
to weep

v.
turns out
it was Rumi 
hiding as a bird in her pocket 
whispering

ah!
don’t you know?
don’t you know it yet?

vi.
higher 
Emily Dickinson,
muttering secrets into the ears
of tulips

higher 
Ammons, struggling to make himself
a colon

higher still
a shriek—Sappho
have you climbed up and thrown yourself 
off a cliff
just to punctuate 
a sentence?

vii.
this is no joke
something is happening
and everyone who even begins
to think 
is already onto it

Li Po dreams of it but he 
is chased away 
before he gets a glimpse
(by the same Blasting Rod 
I’m sure 
that drove Adam and Eve from the garden)

Anne Carson 
tries to touch it
by punching a hole in space-time
and reaching an arm through
but accidentally
hits the switch and—

darkness

viii.
uh-oh

now the only sound is George Herbert’s
nostrily 
breathing

someone elbows me
Blake? Yeats? Hopkins?
no

Traherne!

there are you are 
you don’t know me 
but I know your deepest secret 
completely
you were passing it around a while back

here,
it will be our food for the night
we can cook it
if anyone knows how?

for a moment I think it’s a monster
but it’s Hafiz!
Hafiz is not afraid!
Hafiz holds a match and

sets 
him
self 
on 
fire

ix.
now all the poets are gathered round 
stomachs sated in the dark
and in that lull that could fit any story
and in that group that could ponder any question
I ask

so
has anyone ever got to the top?

a silence 
so profound
you could hear a petal 
falling
all the way 
to the basement of your soul

x.

and then laughter


Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Trying Again

yes there is 
a solid core of unthink-
ability at the heart of existence

     I like to place my hand on it
     like a sleeping dog
     and call it
     matter

since that one day I noticed the quickened light 
on the back of the dragonfly
and, after trying to put my whole being 
upon it like some magic carpet,
slipped off

     o mind 

it takes us so far away
from body
I can almost feel it again,
almost hear all Heaven 
screaming from her eyes,
almost answer, even,
the perennial question

     does the flavor
     of the taco
     improve,
     exposed to rays of thought?

I beamed Wittgenstein back upon the sunset
and the sunset won

took my soul
and,
with long fingers,
    squeezed 


Monday, 11 May 2020

The Stroll

It was pleasant at first. 
The new leaves
were the size of eyelids
and there was sun.

Then, all of a sudden, 
he felt so utterly alone.



Thursday, 30 April 2020

Gnosis

Out of time you called me into these days of sitting on desk chairs in poorly lit rooms, rubbing my thumb on hot tea mugs to self-soothe. You sung me up from dust and I snack on late night oatmeal. Why am I anxious? Have mercy, I am trying to understand how it happened. Take me back, before the moment my memory begins, to that holy city in which we all first played. There you reared my desires like lion cubs in your Inner Chambers, you taught the wild blood its route in the maze of my veins, but something always goes awry, doesn't it? As you raised the walls around my mind and prepared to send me forth, a shadow slipped in with me. Surely it did. Ah! Now I am only a student, twenty nine years old, living in New York. How can this be? I feel ashamed. I gaze at bodegas on street corners, bikes chained to black iron fences, with eyes that really look out from the Absolute. Is it true that the hand that once held Saturn long ago caressed my face? Of course I know that love is the only way to apprehend love; I know that nothing exists but ecstasy and delight! But it makes no difference. I eat steamed broccoli and keep my whole family listed neatly in the contacts on my phone. Is this how you meant it to work? You must give me more than I have so that I can have what I have. You must point your long finger through these darkening evenings. A Manhattan skyline seen from a rooftop, a worthless novel found on a bench: I want to wake, but I want to wake exactly into this. Maybe it will take years. Maybe even beyond the span of my life. But surely it is impossible to come too early or too late to the ultimate moment. Surely it, sighing, could even now be about to press through this tunnel of thought I’ve set, like an oil drill, into the hide of this universe, into the hide of what is both trying and trying not to let it happen. That’s what this is about, isn’t it? You are hungry for effort. I feel that much. I even think I feel, sometimes, the old candle flame you used to tickle my chin with to make me sneeze into life. It prickles me as I walk up Bedford Ave, as I nestle into the bole of an oak tree in the park. But not ever quite enough. 


Sunday, 29 March 2020

Puddle

It’s spring, and there may not be much time left. What matters? Let’s begin the process of elimination, and let’s begin at the top. Am I interested in what happens to me? No. Things have happened to me before, I know what happening is. The velocity of this rain is a fraction more or less than any I’ve previously experienced, so what. Am I interested, then, in what happens to others? There is a mantis I can’t see, beneath layers of decayed leaves. Set aside questions of what the mantis wants, how it wants, or whether its wants run along the same gutters we know, and just go for the mantis itself. Is that enough? Ha! Now set this aside, too; who cares what’s been asked of this or that, we know what asking is, we know what it leads to, what it’s all about. Give me a puddle. Maybe it’s February, maybe it’s May, whatever, I’m not interested. The puddle’s got an edge: at some point a puddle must end and the world must begin. Now we’re getting closer to the good shit. Look to the left. There’ll be some sort of conifer, water-laden, or a single duck. In any case, don’t worry, there is enough of whatever you see for everyone, images are infinite that way. I’m not interested in your proofs against this, your disagreement with me, didn’t I just say I’m not even interested in what I’m saying? Or I would have—just as I would have said a lot more, but we’re long past that. Step in the puddle. There is no other means of doing what we’re doing now. Cup the cool water in your palm. It’s not matter that makes matter matter, and it’s not the sign of the cross. Without this thing, there’d just be silence. So what is it, then? We’re finally coming to it now. The duck quacks, and then again, maybe it doesn’t. Go deeper. If you can, fit your whole body in the puddle. If you can’t, all is lost. At its very center is the thing that will make the puddle, and everything, new. That’s it. I’m interested in that. Is it baptism? Stop it. Your attempts at understanding are getting in the way. It’s this. Pay attention! This. Go all the way in the puddle now.


Saturday, 28 March 2020

Early Spring in Montreal as the Snow Melts in Dusty Clumps

I only wanted to give it to you
the way the world
gave it to me

wanted to tell you what I saw
with the words my eyes used
not these

I wanted a person I could
get near without hurting
the nearer I got

wanted everyone to know it
and for it to still be 
my secret thought

I only wanted nothing 
to be less than 
what it was!

and for this to be 
—why couldn’t it be?—
not wanting too much


Thursday, 19 March 2020

This Long Tunnel

I am looking down a tunnel
infinitely long

my vision 
is infinitely clear

I see movement

is that you
dear one?
is that you

waving 
at 
me?