Tuesday, January 30, 2007
THE TEN THOUSAND NAMES OF GOD
First, clear a workspace, make room. Maybe
before you have finished, you will have broken
the code. Have a seat. Pay attention.
Look out the window before you begin to count.
Take notes: the sky is liquid with falling water.
Find pathways on the glass. Begin.
100,000 light years illuminate the diameter
of the Milky Way. 1,000,000 kilometers equals
the diameter of the sun. Therefore:
in a universe full of personable gods,
or brutal gods, vengeful or vain and hungry gods,
only in our dreams can we imagine the 10,000 names
of just this 1 god. It has no bearing on the universe.
There are no rational or real numbers, maybe
there are more names than grains of sand--and every name
is precious. Write: YHWH. Write: El Shaddai
and Shiva, Ruach haQudesh (The Holy Spirit), and Brahma.
Allah alone has 999 names. There is no frozen spot
of light that remains anonymous. Try Abhir the Almighty.
Try Kadosh the Holy One, Shaphat the Judge. The list
grows long, and reads like a book of arcane Jewish poets,
a bounded set of geometric points that can be enclosed
within a box. When the sky clears we find that Pluto
is now called 134340--in a projectile motion of falling bodies
where t=Time and a=Acceleration to gravity. Maybe
God's 10,000 names are really a number, a googleplex of
numbers. Note: this is reputed to be the largest number
with a name, being a 1 followed by a google of 0's,
in a deleted neighborhood encountered in a study of limits.
Is the thunder an interval? Is the rain a set union?
Does each drop have a name?
(Okay, what am I saying here? I have no idea. This is all bulls**t, and I have NO mathematical understanding whatsoever....)
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
You know, the number of people who love poetry is about the same as the number of people who love to wear Davy Crockett hats. So we are a rare and wonderful people!
I think I was, maybe 9 or 10 when I discovered poetry let you say things you could say no other way, and when I was 15 or so, I found that poetry offered a way of understanding things I never understood before. Poetry sparked a new way of feeling, of insights and images I had never imagined: that someone could write The force that through the green fuse drives the flower/ Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees/ Is my destroyer moved me to tears.
Edna St Vincent was my first love. Dylan Thomas was my second. After that there were suddenly too many to count, like stars on a good night, after the first one or two.
Mary Oliver writes of praying in words I think apply to poetry as well:
It doesn't have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don't try
to make them elaborate, this isn't
a contest but a doorway
into thanks, and a small silence in which
another voice may speak.
Like Abbe Joseph says in The Sayings of the Desert Fathers, stretching his hands toward heaven, his fingers like ten lamps of fire, "If you will, you can become all flame." And we all understand what that is like, don't we? And we've all come through the doorway into thanks, and most of us have found the silence in which another voice may speak....
And if this isn't clear enough to be useful to you, stick around. Hopefully one day it will be, and you can become "all flame."
Just pay attention.
Friday, January 19, 2007
I will be away for the next three weeks. We are flying up to the great Northwest tomorrow, and look who we will be visiting! You're right! It's Baby Rhys, who is already five months old. But, of course, I will be checking all you guys out on my son's computer...so, don't y'all forget me when I'm gone! (This sounds like the lyrics from some old 1930's Blues/Torch song).
Thursday, January 18, 2007
They never told me not to go there,
and there is a certain holiness in repetition.
I am not innocent:
I know where the body's buried
and what goes down at every streetcorner.
What comes up is always waiting there
pinched and brown as a scroll
of inkstained goatskins, a chant unrolled
upon a stick--the poetry of innocents
awaiting judgement. The left hand
never knows the right hand's doings.
I recall the phrases written there.
The priest intones a litany,
a sort of requiem: Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison,
Kyrie eleison--filaments of innocence--
the price of repetition, and of waiting
without conscience. But there's a price to pay.
They never told me not to go there,
I am not innocent.
(picture: Guillermo Gomez Requiem, GaleriaDante, Mexico)
Sunday, January 14, 2007
When I was a little kid I thought I could fly. I'd tie a doll blanket around my shoulders like Mary Marvel (remember her?) and climb to the top of my backyard swingset and jump off. I'd measure with a stick to see how far I got. Each time it was a little bit farther. I knew that one day, if I practiced long enough and wished hard enough, I'd jump off and my feet would never touch the ground. Years later, I wrote in a poem:
as a child I tried to fly
upward from the valley floor
arms outstretched, a thousand
tiny filiforms of wings
flew about my sun-haloed hair.
I didn't know then
would be my wings.
Friday, January 12, 2007
"Behind us lie
The thousand and the thousand and the thousand years
Vexed and terrible. And still we use
The cures which never cure.
O God, the fabulous wings unused,
Folded in the heart."
"Strange how we trust the powers that ruin
And not the powers that bless." *
*Christopher Fry, A Sleep of Prisoners
Thursday, January 11, 2007
ON MURDERING HER HUSBAND IN FRONT OF HIS MISTRESS
Love, she murmurs
under her breakable manners
to the special jockstrap,
counting wins and losses,
finding new delicacies
under each heavy-handed syllable.
She knows the score:
it's nip and tuck
before the final round
she pulls the trigger,
smokes a screaming bullet
as a breadloaf
into his gut,
a second into his groin.
churns red and white
as Robintino's checkered tablecloth
and the red pasta on white china.
His wineglass tips,
spills onto his trim
and familiar white vest.
It is a long joke
with no ending but
a ruined vest.
(That's about enuf to piss off the good humor man! Understand, she never intended to kill him, just wanted to put a scare into him, which she did. She knows he has more moves than a bowl of jello--when he saw her there, face red as a tomato, you could've knocked him over with a feather he was so surprised. Too bad. He was on a roll, you might say, and he was stumped for about a second when she started pitching bread loaves at him--thought she was crazy as a loon--but then again, she might've come at him with the bread knife! He knew she'd caught him between a rock and a hard place, but hell, life's never all fun and games. Too bad about the vest though. It was almost new.) Thanks, Dana!
Thursday, January 04, 2007
This is a true Gumball Poem, written by Mary Fisher, who works in a used bookstore called the Marginalian in Salt Lake City, Utah. I don't know Mary, or the Marginalian bookstore, but we Slick City folks have to stick together!
So much about breathing and the body.
Soon the stars will come and we will know them
as well as we know each other.
The water reads like a drawerful of maps.
You've never seen the Pacific Ocean.
I've never seen millions of bats fly out at once.
Danger is a hymn I have forgotten how to sing.
I choose the wonder of your subtle damage,
the tiny bites. The songs that never repeat,
and in their newness become ancient.
Opus. Opera. The first level of uncountable infinity.
I am not confused. I am not vague. Those strange
words rise out of my heart like white owls
and need not be held in my mouth.
I am counting stars on your breath.
(I wish I had written this.)
Photo Credit: Corey Ford Gallery, Stellar Nursery
Monday, January 01, 2007
Jacob (and Snoopy) doing his Happy Dance! And, the Grande Finale: TA-DA!
Doctor Lewis Thomas writes in The Lives of a Cell: "Statistically, the probablilty of any one of us being here is so small that you'd think the mere fact of existence would keep us all in a contented dazzlement of surprise. We are alive against the stupendous odds of genetics, infinitely out-numbered by all the alternates who might, except for luck, be in our places... Everyone is one in three billion* at the moment, which describes the odds. Each of us is a self-contained, free-standing individual, labeled by specific protein configurations at the surface of cells, identifiable by whorls of fingertip skin, maybe even by special medleys of fragrance. You'd think we'd never stop dancing!"
* (World population increased from 3 billion in 1959 to 6 billion by 1999. As of five minutes ago, the estimated population of the world: 6,616,052, 965. And heaven knows, I've done my share. Tho' I suppose the 3 billion Dr. Thomas referred to was sperm.)