The geese are eating kernels. Some
Make them wise. Some make them
Good. And the body of
The man of grief and lust and mayhem
Buried there bursts with seeds
And stalks of puff balls and elderberries.
Meanwhile, test yourself: the kit
That checks the state of your capillaries--
If your food is too refined,
They can shred, if too rich
And passionate, they might burst.
Did you ever wake up with perfect pitch,
A memory of a farm in Brooklyn,
A hidden lane in Queens? Each kernel
Cracks. The geese feed, each strand
Of love and wisdom is eternal.
The person lives in the Holy Land,
And the Holy Land lives in the person,
Suffused with light from an unknown source,
And if, by God, the world should worsen,
We must, in the twilight, look for that light,
Perhaps in the folds of the frontal lobe,
Finding ourselves on an absolute plain,
Waiting for light to pummel the globe,
To see the land of freedom, to ride
Its highways, decipher the circuitry
Of its stones, to read the earth,
To climb swiftly alongside the sea
Through the foliage, the green scent
Of liberty, of the clouds that appear
Only at this altitude,
Strong, out to the high frontier.
Light will billow in the brain,
A hot air balloon will ascend, light
Will roll down the avenue and break
Into foam, and every slight
Typed reminder with every clause
And subclause, and every marching band
Playing every squeaky note,
Will be your lovely, grand,
Delightful thrill, as soup heats on
The stove, whose smell seeps through the street
Until the hills of Mars, and so
In each ravine, until the bleat-
Ing of the lambs, until the wind
That circled in the grotto blows
Upon the protesting gulls, that whirl
To heaven, and puffs the stiff clothes
Hanging on the line, and lady-
Bugs tumble through the air,
Hanging onto a thought, if that,
And rise above their roots, a fair
Distance in the sky, and the wind
Thrums, an edge of black sky
And white stars, and a tumbling diver,
The smallest step you take on the high
Crag now outstrides your former
Stride, the sun blazes, to fade
The moon into pale blue. And the oriole
Puffs its chest on the palisade.
Don’t worry. You can’t catch rabbits
Or trout, or earn a Ph.D.
How sweet to get a perfect bowling
Score, but assiduity
Is sometimes overrated. You don’t
Have to catch every act
In every loft in Williamsburg.
You can, during the entr’acte,
Look at your phone and scuttle away,
And maybe on the street, the shine
Of sun reflected on the bus
Shelter will make you leonine.
You might excuse yourself when you’re approached
To join the fight for softer shades
Of gray in women’s clothes. Streetlights
At noon deserve no accolade.
You have a good reason to be up on the roof.
Think about it. There are times to come down
And mop the floor. What mysteries
At other times the suds would drown.
The birds are pecking at bread crumbs and suet,
The rooster knows how to crow, the crow
Seeks shiny things. In the end,
The hummingbird seeks an incognito
Land, trees just beginning to grow.
There is a man in charge of the lawns.
He’s not stupid, but how much can you say
To the spring flowers and occasional fawns?
Well, all right, that’s not what we need,
Sometimes a walk beneath the crags
Is what we need. And since we’ve seen
Van Goghs, the way the wind zigzags
Across the fields is familiar.
We smell the moist chlorophyll,
And see the yellow flowers, and
The thick-lobed leaves on the Catskill,
A spray of rain that sifts the smell
Of tar from the wind, an old man
And a warm wind, an acorn, a creek
And the sand in a glinting gold pan.
The alarm clock on the left of the bed,
The list of things to do on the right,
The organizer, the old-fashioned watch
That goes tick-tick. If a Hittite
Were to leap up from behind your desk
And rouse you from your torpor, smile
Indulgently, “Thanks good fellow.”
The bottle rolling in the aisle,
The yawp of cars, the irritation
At the worker with the squishy
Laugh. And look the river takes in
Everything. Anguish, wee-
Ping, bring them in and open up
The windows, flood the room with sun,
Until your strength will last longer than death
And your faith will outlive oblivion.
Why are we here, bringing more boxes
Into the field? Unpacking, bit
By bit, this place can be surprising,
Broader than we thought, sunlit
Unexpectedly, home. Because
We have pushed at the doors that were closed before
K, we will carry in midgets, the wash,
The old journals, a janitor,
Perhaps an emperor. Even
The crows help out—they still stay crows
But in a different sky—a place
That draws its lines, its indigos,
From somewhere else. From somewhere else,
Or else becomes that somewhere else?
There is no way to know (as yet?).
And when will there be nothing else?
The air is cool and fresh in the field
At three in the morning, and upstairs
A light goes on. The next day,
The reaper flicks the stalks, the stairs
Rise up to where a lively child
Is born. Do not be afraid
Of life in the field, its rough vigor,
It is a gift of God, the hand and the spade.
From thought and not just any thought,
From thought that’s hidden, and not because
Anyone hid it, come souls. Some
Are new, some respond to applause,
Some applaud, and some come looking
For the concierge—because,
Isn’t everything ready? Up there,
It’s all one, fingers and claws.
From the office that isn’t even an office,
Everything you can see is blessed.
All your friendships, plus the museum,
Beyond the clouded Everest.
Do not stop the image of
The mystery, the secret of
Creation. Do not stop the secret
Image. The bay window, the glove,
207 stars, the sunlight
Seeps across the eastern sky.
Do not stop the museum from making
Its exhibition rooms, Shanghai
And a nightclub. Mandelbrot
Had to come from somewhere that
Came from somewhere, but do not stop
The mountain or the fretful gnat.
Yaacov David Shulman