Crystal Ball - Farther Than Haute Médoc - Karma-Samsara & the Bug - 75 Years
We’ll all end up broken in the scrap-heap of time
with the boards and steel latches
that once upon a time opened stained-glass windows to the rolling seas,
with the callipers and giant mirrors
that first showed us our small reflection in the rolling stars;
windows and mirrors shattered six feet under
in a layer of sediment ten thousand years old
Farther Than Haute Médoc
I have been, and will return to being a bunch of red grapes
when the wine presses of the South are empty of meaning.
I have travelled from slope to cellar, from vineyards to the gullets of France.
In a past life of raindrops and caterpillars I slid down the rain-drenched vine
into a jungle of green leaves and red roots.
In others I was plucked by the fingers of Sicilian peasants,
or pressed in the stained-wood carcasses of Provence.
Steeped in the lore of languid hours
I laboured in gentian high in the Swiss Alps until the blue turned to amber.
I have sat with Omar Khayyam in a thousand cafes
but still can't fathom the empty cup.
Karma-Samsara & the Bug
One of the hardest, sweetest truths
is to realize that whatever your specific virtues or talents
you’re almost nothing standing beneath Shakespeare and the stars
The ego shrinks till at last you reach the size of Kafka’s bug
and scurry about your beetle business
until you’re old and grey
and awed by the blades of grass
some greybeard cosmos sowed over your little grave
where you lie like one of Poe’s unhappy victims
waiting to be reborn
until finally you’re reincarnated in a caterpillar shape
inching your way toward the light
that glistens at the end of a dark wet bough
until finally you take that daring leap
shaking your wings in the misty air
in the mountain ranges of Shan Shui
75 Years = .00003 Percent of Our Galactic Rotation
Life's becoming so precious
that we won't even have time to lose it all:
the purple sunrise dying on the edge of a swirling ball;
the last real — and metaphoric — minutes near the eighteenth hole;
several lines of poetry in a billion leagues of ink;
the nightly dreams that make no sense
in a universe of overwhelming math and logic,
one thing causing the next; space and time omnipotent
but, as if to confound it all,
emotion and understanding, love and wonder;
moments of being before the endless night.
Scientists and poets point us irremediably to the watery deep.
Half a billion years ago we opened our gills and dreamt of flight.
Four and a half thousand years ago we first sank in the cuneiform of Sumer, slowly,
blackward in the boat of Magilum.
A stylus dug our grave in wet clay — Death’s first, but common, ride.
Together, with Enkidu and Gilgamesh, we sank into the water from where we came,
unfated to sail with Urshanabi (the original ferryman, two thousand years before Charon)
or land on an other side.
Optimists dreamt of options ever since:
nectar and ambrosia, milk and honey, water and wine,
as if the afterlife were an outdoor restaurant in Trastevere
and the world were a pizza being whirled by some Italian in a floppy hat
and tossed into the oven, to be drunk with a glass of Frascati Superiore
There we were drinking and munching on what we thought was the first slice,
a crisp pepperoni sliding on the golden crust of Earth, flung on a Spiral Arm.
Outside the restaurant the streets are dark.
Everything we ever loved lies behind us, on menus and lists of words.
What lies ahead is anyone’s guess.
If it’s anything, it’s a variant of Hope.
Next: Alas, Poor Yorick