Sunday, March 3, 2019

Seven Things I Thought I Knew Fifteen Years Ago

(but first, whom is that a drawing of, or don’t we need to know?)
Everything a sentient human being does or is
depends on making manifest inchoate fizz.
And then unutterability transmutes into new mass:
with strange autonomy you hold the dark at bay –
see your hand is in the form, is part of it, at last –
and find your prints illuminate and mark the clay.
Go to Mass, observe the angel eyes around you
swerve, evade, retreat then peek out, press against
impenetrable corneas – like starving children
at a Christmas window, locked out, looking in.
Milton's Satan is the Midnight
Cowboy of the human soul:
He wants to taste each part of you,
he wants to eat you whole.
He wants you in his bed for pay,
wherein you hear him pant
he longs to give his heart away
(he thinks) to you, and can't.
To banish doubt we grew up learning
that we had to peel and parcel out
our feelings and our thoughts,
like oranges, into discrete
segmented parts – taught
that hearts were comprehensible
if we divided them syllabically with But’s.
But this is nuts.
The only worthwhile art is opening
and offering a hand. The central
alchemy of anything is And.
Sometimes you have to rhyme
and tap a healing meter,
beating out in careful time
your chaos. Find some neater
means of caging feeling
so it offers the illusion
of behaving. When I'm reeling
I hang onto form. Confusion
needs a bridge across its sea,
a span of words for order –
strict words make a milder me –
so I can cross the border.
I found the means to make
my fingers and my bow obey
my ear, and swoon,
by concentrating on a tune –
not disembodied black marks
on a sheet. To me, if you
can't find a way to play
a piece without consulting
something central in your heart –
to learn and ground technique
by making love – whatever you
create will be illimitably weak.
Run somewhere, not in place.
Give aimed and passionate
experience a shot at grace.
Soul squirms involuntarily:
I sit with it, forget it’s there –
it burrows down contrarily
then surfaces for air –
and prods me to enjoin
my heart to tell me what I think –
then floods from brain to groin
in answer – takes me to a brink
of unsuspected hearing, seeing
(when getting old is all I’ve done).
Then like some subterranean being
breaking through to sun
the odd thing worms up – blundering –
hellbent on being free –
and pops! – abruptly, wondering
how else to get to me.
I don't believe in innocence
as commonly portrayed -
the notion that we're all clean slates
at birth is retrograde to me:
we enter life uploaded
with a universe of stuff: genetic
baggage – temperaments, magnetic
pulls; splenetic – some of us;
and others - easy, light; we cart out
personalities full-blown –
fixed palettes offered up, whose
hues paint infancy in unmistakable
designs. By two, we're Machiavellian –
we learn to throw our weight around –
a tonic impudence intoxicated
by the thrill of saying "no."
Seems truer that our innocence
is earned: opposite to what we're told,
the task of growing up's to shed
inherited impediments that make us
sink back into infantile jaded ruts.
We work to learn to bring ourselves
a fresh sanguinity: to scrub out
stubborn stains, and find –
create – our real virginity.

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