AUTUMNAL 1 (In Memory of Rainer Maria Rilke)

November 17, 2007 at 7:54pm (Poetry)

“O lost, and by the wind grieved, Ghost, come back again.” Thomas Wolfe

These leaves,
they all fall down;

are falling down
with the sound of falling leaves
they fall, silent, to the ground.

And all are falling;
this hand, too, it falls:
it falls upon the page.
        upon the word.
                upon the stone.
                        upon the leaf.
                                upon the door.

It falls;
and having fallen,

falls no more.

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A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE I CHING

November 10, 2007 at 10:30pm (Poetry)

King Wu Wen presented me

            with a hundred tortoises.

I fed the flesh to a hundred beggars,

              and the shells I used for divination —

cast them into fire and read the cracks

               the fire made along their backs.

Nothing furthers, they said. Also,

               Every ending is a new beginning.

Such nonsense!” I spat,

              and beheaded the cat.

But what can one expect from empty tortoise shells?

             Or old wise men like King Wu Wen? 

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ELEGY ON AN OIL SLICK

November 10, 2007 at 10:19pm (Poetry)

Under the surface,

under the slick of oil

spreading over the slick

of conceit;

                     under the tock

of the me. me. me.

ticks the I. I. I.

that watches, watches, watches

as we die, die, die.

                          Waits and watches, watches and waits —

this unseen, unwatched, watching Seer.

               And we who have no house,

no house at all

                      (nor do we build one

on this chilly Tuesday

when Winter, crouching on its haunches,

stalks the Fall)

                      we, too, wait and watch,

watch and wait;

                        paint our lips with blood,

our eyes with death,

pucker up and hold our breath

in hot anticipation.

                            But, lacking inspiration,

mistake the mustard seed

between our teeth

for a bit of food

and spit it out lest we offend.

The end.

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NURSERY RHYME

November 10, 2007 at 12:56am (Poetry)

 

          Here, in the Valley of Bones,

where the scorpion mocks the turtle

as the turtle dies

and curses the scorpion

for its lies;

           where dead men return,

and stones return,

and children’s teeth return;

here, at Elephant’s End,

we play cat’s cradle in the dirt,

where a little dog laughs

to see such sport,

and the wayward dish

returns.

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