Philosophical Poems

Reply Sun 27 Apr, 2008 12:55 pm
Tahquitz Rock, CA

"Sermons in stones, and good in everything."

You were made somehow,
an unglaciated outcrop of white granite
reaching eight-hundred feet
into the abundant emptiness of the sky.
Perhaps it was by some titanic urge
that rose to the skin of the earth,
came to itself in the dark wood beneath you.
Perhaps because some door amid the stars
was opened, letting you out
before the wind blew it shut,
only to be opened again.
Why else would you be here,
buffeted by this pulsing sea of magma,
the source of our mortal substance,
except that you were made?

I am like you, in that something
moves my hands to reach
for the clean, quartzy sand
on the bed of this stream.
Perhaps it is that which once moved aside
the dusty fan palms, agave,
and creosote to reveal you;
whatever now chisels you,
swinging hammers of wind and rain.

And so there is in me some urge
to climb you with these hands,
though I might fall,
though I might fade
like the dusk whose dying breath
blows back the veil of night,
my spirit linked back
to the mystery that must have made you.

October 10, 2002
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Reply Sun 27 Apr, 2008 01:01 pm
After Hearing Beethoven's Ninth Symphony

In Science, Mind is one, including noumenon and phenomena, God and His thoughts.

Mary Baker Eddy

Already the memory of the music
is decrescendoing in our minds,
while our footsteps click like dying clocks
on the pavement of the parking lot.
After I finished college, I promised myself
that I would leap into life,
which is why I am here with three friends
at the Hollywood Bowl, fired
by the fuel of some strange desire,
and lost on the amorphous surface
of a lake of cars. While they are busy
tracking down our parking place,
I am thinking about the words of the things I see:
"Yellow leaves strewn on the cement,
green ivy in the shadows,
orange street lights in the distance."
And while the image of a yellow leaf
falls gently in my mind, I notice a woman
sitting in her parked car, crying.

Looking away timidly as I leave her behind
in the night, I notice
the image of the leaf slowly die
and give way to the image of her teary face.
"But wait a second," I think.
"There's something strange about these images.
They start out as objects: so pure and simple,
so real. But as I encounter them,
take them in with my eye, they become
something else: less simple, less real.
The image of the leaf dies in me,
and the image of the woman's suffering
may no longer be true. By now,
that woman could be laughing joyfully,
her sadness having disappeared,
yet the image of her sorrow still lives in me."

My friends have hunted down the car
and are getting in when one of them,
a beautiful woman, asks me
if this is my first time hearing The Ninth.
I tell her that it is, marveling
at the way the orange streetlights
are making her profound eyes flicker in the semi-darkness.
I start to wonder if the strange desire
I have is for her. But then I think
about desire, about how we can feel it
at one time, but then feel something entirely different
at another; how everything we feel,
or think we feel, fades like the image of that leaf.

Sitting in the car, halfway watching the water
of her eyes, I begin to feel that-
no matter if we are standing back from
or jumping headlong into
what we call life-we are just choosing
one dream over another.
She then asks me, her face disappearing
in darkness as our car races under a bridge,
"What did you think of the music?"
Imagining joyfully, at that moment,
the smooth surface of a lake reflecting purely, eternally
the perfect sphere of the sun, I say,
"I don't think it gets any better than that."

August 16, 2002
Reply Sun 27 Apr, 2008 01:04 pm
[SIZE=+2]Parley on the Poet's Eye or A Sound Hypocrism[/SIZE]

Those promises but hypocrisies, without any soundnesse.
[SIZE=-2]T. TAYLOR Titus 1612[/SIZE]

A description is like being in love with love,
like spelunking a soundless, bottomless cave
from the aloof safety of a helicopter,
like traversing a foaming rapid of the Nile on a wheelchair.
It would have been lovely if I had said long ago,
"It is time to stop putting words before what matters most,"
had driven alone to the huge mall parking lot,
long past midnight, when there are no cars
and all the big lamps are turned off, and had watched
the lights of the city while immersed
in that penumbra of darkness. We should love
someone or something, rather than love love.
For we all have walked into a dusty room, in which a telephone
is off the hook, when it is silent enough
we can hear the siren-sound of its overplayed dial tone.
We all have had our hearts played upon
as if they were dilapidated, musty accordions of doubt.
Therefore, we should not love to describe;
we should love what we describe;
we should partake of what we describe.

When we look to the question of our lives,
we look like the last living member of a lost
Saharan caravan, who looks at the dark, scalding stones
with their desert varnish and faunal pictographs
and eventually drives himself into a frenzy
trying to figure out how to squeeze water out of them.
We can calmly, rationally, consciously
put our minds to the description of something.
It may be a fine complex of words, exact use of the language;
but what is it that we really are passionate about?
For we all at times have found ourselves lost
somewhere between a faint, muslin mist of fear
and a turgescent, taffata fog of hope, which,
like the suggestion of a bulging eye,
urge us to keep going on every day.
Deprive a smoker of her cigarettes, and she'll empty
her refrigerator to fill the gap in her sustenance.

What is the world, this monstrosity of consciousness,
this feeling that we are riding the conveyor belt of an assembly line
without knowing what is being assembled
or what happens to whatever is conveyed?
I'll bet the young world was like a desert,
which is before life, before calm wind and gentle rain.
Similar to a desert, the young world probably looked
like it had been ravaged by the pangs of a great birth.
We've traveled so far from this beginning,
though it is as if our lives are spent
inside the steep shafts of abandoned turquoise mines,
lost in the unchanging temperatures of unchanging darkness.
What a petty post-lapsarian excuse for hopefulness:
to think that humanity can have something
or partake in the being of something simply by giving it a name.

The ancients were not far off when they thought
that the eye saw by sending out a beam from the brain.
Akin to what my astronomy professor had talked about in class one day:
how we can never know the exact temperature
of a substance because whatever device
we use to measure temperature changes the temperature of the substance.
Therefore, the world can only be what we already are
when we envision it with our language.

Apropos, I have awoken from a deep sleep
in the middle of the night, when the moon is full
and the summer stars are approaching the zenith of the sky.
Before life, before calm wind and gentle rain.
And I have seen my room illuminated
by a dreamfully familiar, fallow light,
which wavers like the flashes a fire would throw
onto the wall of a cave. And on my dresser
I have seen an opened book: its pages,
like ancient instruments, played by a deafening wind; its spine,
fulminating blue and green.
There have been days that say,
"Let's get to the bottom of things."
Days like the night when I open the book of my life, and read.
Days when the brain sends out its beam through the eye,
and like the thermometer's shaft of glass,
finds a kind of heavy feeling in a green tree, a blue sky.

May 6, 2002
0 Replies
Resha Caner
Reply Thu 15 May, 2008 11:00 am
Re: Beethoven's 9th

Music sometimes brings this same melancholy for me. You captured it well, the way the residue of the music births meaning in other objects.

It is interesting what happens when emotion drives our logical processes, isn't it? Logic is supposed to be logic, but it has its birth somewhere.
0 Replies

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