Attrition

Black hole
The first-ever direct image of a black hole(!) captured by the  Event Horizon Telescope (EHT)

Imagine a moment moving differently,
Looking
For inspiration in rupture,
Grasping
The patched curtain,
Conflating
The abrupt and the Holy,
Wishing
That it could build on a substance as solid as sand,
Wondering
If baptism splashed across realities
And sanctified suggestions.

What was the question?
Was there a question?
Between the baptismal splash
And the sanctified suggestion?
Is there a line between repetition and recognition?
Humility and submission?
All this (and more) in a war
Of attrition.

You said something about a light burden
And I don’t have the will
To carry this jagged weightlessness
All the way to the top of the hill
May I lay it down awhile?
Do You have time to kill?
Time to let things sit awhile?
Time to just be still?

 

 


Some of my favourite poems and songs feature distinct shifts in cadence and rhythm, and this particular song was in my head while I wrote.

This poem revisits/compliments my previous piece ‘Symmetry‘. 

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Highway (After The End)

1st reformed.JPG
First Reformed (dir. Paul Schrader, 2017)

You can’t stretch it any further,
you won’t accept it’s done,
you’re painting on the table now,
the colours begin to run,
and your artistic direction
is harder to defend
in the twilight gallery,
this strange and open End.

This seems so familiar,
but it can’t be the same,
it’s much too light,
it’s much too bright;
a kinder, gentler, game.

You collect every cliché,
and mould every refrain
into a blunt machete
for your overgrown brain.
You haven’t found the narrow road
but you’ve occupied a lane
along the great highway
for the fashionably sane.

Go ‘round the bend,
and reach the end
or just go ‘round again?
The gaudy crown and golden throne
make Him look so vain,
He strikes you down with flaming tongues,
great words you can’t explain.
Will you go ‘round the bend
and reach the end?
Or just go ‘round again?

Beyond the great highway
for the fashionably sane,
beyond the overgrown thicket
of your overgrown brain,
there is a new familiar,
and kinder, gentler game,
there are better things to fight for,
and better things to defend;
this is a new beginning,
a strange and open End.


Inspirations? Bob Dylan, Nick Cave, anxiety, and excitement.

The Weight of Everything

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Christ of the Abyss (Key Largo, Florida, USA)

I remember the weight of everything/God’s thumbprint/the contours of deferred divinity/ moving, shaping /burning, breaking, refining/defining/every etching within the edges of the long tunnel/constricting, forcing/each thought through the eye of the shrinking needle/I remember/I remember/the weight of everything/the determined angels/the imps and gremlins/fighting for control of the rusty rudder/rising/writhing its way to the tip of my tongue/I remember/after the rising/writing/the arrival of something else/something other/one-on-one/one-another/I remember the centre/ of God’s thumbprint/ and how it/enveloped/the weight of everything.

Good Things

Zdzislaw_Beksinski_1978_2
Untitled (Zdzislaw Beksinski, 1978)

Good things make me nervous.

They feel incomplete; shards of a forgetful colour wheel,

blissful buoys in a monochrome ocean.

I’m content.

I’ve found a comfortable edge.

I hope that change is afraid of heights.

I’m content, and good things make me nervous.

I’m comfortable, and I don’t want to drown.

I’m safe
I’ll stay

on the edge of the water;

I know that the light would weigh me down

Poetry As Failure

dali.JPG
Cubist Composition – Portrait of a Seated Person Holding a Letter (Salvador Dali, 1923)

In my more cynical moments, I think of the manifestation of poetry in my writing as a personal failure. It is composed by the creak and collapse of stories more worthy, more complete, and more satisfying. Unable to sustain a prose narrative or script, my words arrange themselves in obstinate patterns, reaching for anachronism and rhyme.
Paragraphs become stanzas, sentences become fragments, and concepts are stretched into haphazard conceits. What is it about this Way, this form, that makes it impossible to escape? What took it from occasion
to compulsion?
A way of writing,
to a way of thinking?

I twist experience
until it cries,
I don’t wait until it heals,
prodding
the open wound
to see what it reveals.

I…

I don’t usually  want to write poetry
and, when I do,
it refuses to cooperate,
it’s viscous and brittle.
Form and meter promise comfort and shift on their haunches
insisting
I learn their liturgical language,
laughing
when I mistake “formal” for “archaic”,
tangle my words into wires,
wrap them ‘round a strangled story,
and call the gasping result
“Poetry”

(with a capital “P”)

My poetry makes no sense, and it does not help me. It is a reminder
of my shortcomings, my hang-ups, the stubborn knots in my mind, that send my thoughts the long way ‘round.

My poetry makes no sense, and it does not help me. It’s a reminder
that I’m not a musician,
that people aren’t bound
by the drumbeat of my brain,
and that the chorus is just an echo.

My poetry makes no sense, and it does not help me.
It refuses to be just so,
but I don’t know
what I’d write
(or if I’d write at all)
if I didn’t write damn poetry.
Would I pray?
Would I pray?
I wouldn’t pray at all
if I didn’t write poetry.

It makes no sense,
but it does help me.

 


This piece deliberately echoes Anne Carson’s poem ‘My Religion’. I also had ‘Pyramid Scheme’ (Hera Lindsay Bird) in the back of my mind as I wrote.

 

 

 

 

 

Symmetry

Cassini.jpg
“Translucent Arcs” (photo taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft).

It can be hard to get up
to rise through
layers of weightlessness
to listen
for the clinking cogs
singing
to themselves
and for each other
not a brain in a vat
but an echo in a jar
starting softly
slowly
spiraling
It’s time to get up
to move
to rise through
layers of weightlessness
to remix
rewrite
that clinking-cog chorus
invite them
force them
invite them
to face the audience
face the music
listen to the spheres
those spiraling songs
from beyond the jar
the exhausted eternities
the lovingly butchered notes
an ode
to attempted symmetry.

You.

Related image
Winter Light (dir. Ingmar Bergman, 1963).

By lamenting Your absence, we discern Your outline.
We mimic Your heartbeat with our clenched fists.

Our words break like waves
on the Rock of Your reality,
our thoughts, like foam, dissipate
on the edge of your Being
and we stand,
we stand,
on sinking sand.

Abba, Father, we don’t understand.

Your Words are the waves that shape our reality,
Your mind a furnace
that refines our being,
and we stand,
we stand,
on your outstretched hand;
You see,
You know,
You understand.