Monday, October 7, 2013

Tabula Rasa

Imagine, she says,
a world without burden,
of memory, sense or skin,  
unharangued by language or history,
the leisure of the unsortable experience.

Imagine no schema more complicated
than living ever after 
the reawakening to windchimes
each morning, 
clanging beneath the cold of a smug half-sun,
the sparrow singing somewhere near,
the fog of morning on the windowsill,
and you
with no thought of what any of it might mean.

tabula rasa shaken smooth in real-time.

No memory beyond tenderness
No future beyond wonder,
No language beyond joy.

American Celebrity Matryoshka Doll Set

What if you found yourself the third iteration
In an American Celebrity Matryoshka doll set,
Subsequent to an uncomfortably oversized Walter Cronkite,
(he himself subsequent to a colossal Shirley Temple)
antecedent to a miniature Abraham Lincoln,
his top hat sweetly settled into the absence of humanity
just below your nose, and hidden in him a secret Clara Bow
and within her a pygmiesque Donald Trump,
where follows:
At the heart of everything (your heart?) 
a miniscule King George III,
clutching an even littler 
Declaration of Independence,
laughing, laughing, laughing.

soft spot

He glances up at the robin's nest,
nestled atop the loudspeaker box,
Blue eggs scarcely visible beneath their
mother's breast, their father off hunting the
succulence of worms. He ponderously adjusts his tool belt.

'Now, if it was a starling, a swallow,
a grouse or whatever,
I'd say to hell with it,
thwack it down.

But robins? 
Well, I got a soft spot for robins.'

A poem on my birthday

I awoke on my 28th birthday worried
that I was growing older,
wasting my life and given too much
to being alone and unproductive,
wondering at the living left.
Only to read that scientists
regrew ears and hearts and soon
many other bodyparts via stem-cells,
and though our hearts may grow weary
from love, grief and loneliness,
old age may never catch us again.

Imagined my 78th, my 128th, my 888th birthday,
maybe on Mars or the Moon,
Set to hurl myself from Olympic Mons,
Or winning a match of Moonball,
my nanoheart beating
like a conquering drum.

Retreating from retreating
into the cavern ofmy mind,
I smile at my friends
in the soft wind rustling past us
as we stand on the edge of the roof,
watching the day's last light caress the hills
and lean. over the railing,
staring down at the city growing between the trees,
feeling tall and mighty
and for the moment


Pressure washing concrete walls,
water spraying luminous and grand,
like a waterfall befuddled by gravity.
It's almost peaceful, slowly raking smooth
the mossy islands and paint chips,
of a concrete zen garden.
Much more zen than the snorting,
guzzling machine would initially let on,
much more zen than the art of carpentry 
would seem to embrace.
Slipping between pressure washing
and the book about Aristotle
tutoring Alexander in Macedonia,
his unmoored frustration
at feeling misplaced,
reciting myths and bad science with boy-kings.
Slipping between daydreams
and the Lamentations of the Chronically Underemployed,
trying never to surrender completely 
the pleasure of anger
to the pleasant emptiness 
of the task at hand.


I can hear you fretting about the cost,
but let me smile here and explain that beyond postage,
I didn't spare a dime on this. Riding the plane
home from Chicago, a man sat next to me,
(and while you know how I am about conversations
with strangers, especially lacking an escape mechanism).
We spoke nearly the whole way home, 
about Love, God,
Science Fiction, America. 
He works as a defense contractor,
designing contraptions to save soldiers in work time
designing jewelry in real time,
just to blow off steam.
Jewelry he learned to fashion 
in a sizzling Moroccan bazaar.
He gives whole sets of this jewelry away for free.
He carries thirty sets with him at any time,
gifting them to men and women 
who leave some shadow of themselves within his heart, 
folks who are kind and openhearted with him
help him to learn new things 
or who perhaps just need a lucky break,
From unsettled Saudi oil heiresses, 
to cancer-stricken stewardesses.
And now to you, through me.

On the peculiar failings of the explorers

Francisco Pizzaro was deeply bizarro,
Ferdy Magellan an irascible felon,
Vasco de Gama had a thing with a llama, 
and Hernan Cortez preferred choking on Pez,

While Chrissy Columbus grew fond of Ohio.