On the Pageant Faded
Beyond Whose Bourne - Circle, Period, Dot
BEYOND WHOSE BOURN
One day I’ll look at everything I’ve written here
and my 93 year-old mind won't be able to make any sense of it
instead, it’ll look something like the angel and fish
I took a picture of several years ago in a Brussels museum
The long web pages, the cloud-captioned photos of me
under the arches of some quixotic portico in Guanajuato
The gorgeous girls I dreamed about, Scarlett and Nina
girls fantastic and real
poems to the sun
the solemn temple of agnosticism -- yea, ryc.space itself
and all those therein that it inhabit
shall dissolve and leave not a period behind
Of course, the bard said it much better:
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself --
Yea, all which it inherit -- shall dissolve,
And like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep. Sir, I am vexed.
Bear with my weakness. My old brain is troubled.
(The Tempest 4.1)
We’re all but shadows, de-based versions of the bard
What light from yonder window broke?
It was the West, and Shakespeare was the sun.
We write on the cave wall that Plato turned to metaphor
we project ever more fantastic versions of ourselves
fancy ryc dot websites
books of faces and pages of names
chosen to impress
we project these onto paper or screen
faint copies of the patterns imprinted
in the deep currents of neurons
that are themselves projected
onto the stony interior of our skulls
while, outside in the reborn air
the bard whispers sonnets to the stars
One day, under the stone arches of a memory-laden sky
I’ll enter that tunnel in Guanajuato
and delve into the secrets of the earth
where I’ll find the narcotraficantes
and the curved blades of ill-mannered ladrónes
mal educados todos
on Calle Jésus María de Compostela del Cielo*
or I’ll watch as Beatrice Portinari sips from the Fountain of Youth
which scientists will have finally proven sits invisible still
in some luminous square in Firenze
and I’ll ride with dragons and valkyries
drink the tortilla soup of the soul
of the Bardo that awaits**
when I have shuffled into the cavernous coil***
The entrance of the tunnel blown to smithereens
beyond whose bourn
* Narcotraficantes = drug traffickers, ladrón = thief, mal educados = badly raised, and todos = all. As I recount at the beginning of My Green-Eyed Mexican, in Mexico City I was robbed in a market -- ironically on a street called Jésus María. Compostela alludes to Santiago de Compostela, the famous pilgrimage site in Galicia, Spain. Del Cielo = of Heaven.
** In Buddhism, the Bardo is the realm through which the soul travels after death.
*** Hamlet speculates about that sleep of death, when his body shuffles off its mortal coil, and he enters that country beyond whose bourn no traveller returns (Hamlet 3.1).
CIRCLE, PERIOD, DOT
Isn't this what we all want
something to leave behind
some period that says, This is the end
This is the end, beautiful friend
This is the end, my only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I'll never look into your eyes, again
(The Doors, 1967, lyrics by Jim Morrison)
There may be no safety
and there may or may not be some or surprise
but Jimmy was right about the final point:
there'll definitely be an end.
If it be now, ’tis not to come. If it be not to come, it will be now. If it be not now, yet it will come -- the readiness is all.
But there’s also something else
something to mark the period of time
spent on this spinning globe
(itself a dot in space)
once the pageants have all faded
and it’s not necessarily baseless
this dot among millions
from genetic codes to family trees.
We scent the air.
We form meaning
and new ways of seeing;
collecting and gathering
ideas and emotions,
linking the invisible missing bits
(32-billion-bit encrypted inside us somewhere):
beauty, compassion, and awe.