The first concept, the first sense:
Whatever is more than what it seems,
And more than that, beyond thoughts,
Feelings, formulas or dreams,
Is more life, the more we cling
To that which is beyond clinging
When speaking to a child, when signing
A check, facing a new morning,
The sight of a lean cat crossing
The road can radiate orange, the cat
Doesn’t know, but you know who made
The cat—not just you, but all that
You are first attached to. Whatever
Is brighter will be stronger. Whatever
Streams from the source will fly, we
Will add to that—that’s our endeavor.
He (you? me?) should know
What you have—are—you are walking through
Your own arteries, they are pulsing, pounding,
God is here, don’t eschew
Your own Lembeh Straits, the long
Shallow waves rolling up
To Bali, an unending yearning,
A rest in the cantillation trop,
That sea allows the fish to seek,
When you walk there, you are refreshed,
And light enters everywhere,
From the Gra and from the Besht,
Into everything you do,
(Every transaction,) the light through the soul,
When everything is light, when the sea
Comes to satiate the shoal.
(What is the purpose of prayer? And what
Does it mean to be close to God?) at any
Rate, the flowers orient
Themselves to the sun, many
Times throughout the day, (there are men
Who yearn for the sun, men who go blind,)
There are lights that we yearn for but do not see,
For a park we imagine but do not find.
When you’re busy screwing in light bulbs, you cannot
See their light (that magically
Goes on at dusk), but that is just
(Another type of) apogee
His feelings were filled with God. When he
Was checking his tires, when he filled
His mind with concepts, acted, fed
The poor, he was unfulfilled.
He wanted to be the sputtering blaze
Of the fuse—even though
It wasn’t true—for if it were,
Then everywhere the light would flow,
And when he learned, wisdom would play--
But it came from being true,
Water is water, from river and
From reservoir, and he—and you?--
Will do all right. In the end,
Trust. Only one can help,
One’s enough, nothing left,
Just a rock and a whelp.
Someone will come to comfort you,
Someone who sees, no, who knows,
Your pain, someone who will show you
A boulevard, where the sunlight glows,
A wild spot in Canada, where the rapids
And you will heal, and you will feel
Your life under each eyelid.
That is you and me. That is
Everyone, sick with love,
Until our doctor comes, to
Release—taking off each glove--
Our yearnings, to give life to endless
Planets, each with its own bears,
Its own honey badgers, its towns,
Its trees’ globes of glowing pears.
(After all, how far is heaven
From here? Inside my skull, it seems
A jumble. Angels, true, and fences,
I myself have smashed my dreams,)
And there is the soul, straining to
Emerge, and the stuffed river
In the soul, it wants to flow,
Flow, and it can barely shiver.
No one knows. Here come the medicine
Men, I mean they’re really kind,
Instead of showing her her vistas,
Water surging through a blind
Alley, nostrums, formulas,
Donkeys bearing panniers that carry
Stale, flat bread, and there
She is, bereft and solitary.
My spirit sank. (It ignored
My spirit rising, or it was
The other side, or it sat
In Schrodinger’s box, what does
Your cat do?) My spirit sank.
(Wouldn’t Frank Zappa be surprised?
Because) (perhaps) all the tunes
Would somehow be anesthetized,
And swoopingly deodorized.
What if you were given, well, say,
A hybrid motor and headlights that
Could pierce the black in Mandalay?
Believe me, you are so good-looking
That that chopped-up purple hair
And half-lying on the sofa
And the casual way you swear
Your limbs will leap up from the couch,
You’ll say, “Show me the tropical sun!
Take me to the waterfall
Of Lembeh Island!” I’ll say, “Son,
When you rise, I rise. Together, let us
Search for light in the gecko’s
Golden, slitted eyes. Let us
Go to Spain, to those El Grecos
Gloomy on the walls and open
The skylight to see a Jan Miro
Sky, and then up north to see
The blinding light upon the snow.”
Every curse will turn into
A blessing. (Maybe that’s why the deadly
Tropical fish are so alluring,
So psychedelic, such a medley
Of scintillation.) Everything bad
Will turn to good (I’d like the eyes
To see that now. Wouldn’t we all?
From Jupiter, how distant sunrise
Must appear.) Everything streams
From somewhere, the spongy texture of
Galaxies, the sweeping little
Electrons in the foxglove,
It all starts out as good. It all
Carries traces of advice.
The plans from brilliant nudibranchs
Up to Isaac’s sacrifice.
It is all a metaphor.
Yes there is time and there
Are numbers here and there
(And what are they in you? Where
(Is your time and where are your numbers, if
Your fingers are numb?) In heaven, time
Is (a lively creature or
A dye that soaks the curtains. I’m
Sure that I don’t know.) and numbers
Are (silver buttons, perhaps), and what
About you? Are your thoughts here
Here or there? Cold or hot?
That which is hidden in the cosmic brain
Comes out in crooked roads, where trucks
Carry staples to foreign communities,
Ergot in the wheat, an influx
Of tainted milk—they once found a kid
In its mother’s milk—and the exhaust chokes
The town and the people stumble into
Plate-glass windows—what a hoax,
That the trinkets are plated in silver dross
As fresh from the finest silversmith.
It’s because the dispatcher fell asleep
Or worse, his hand slipped, and with
That, the whole array of lights
On the grid changed, and there the trucks go
To Chile or to tribes. Look,
They eat the food, their eyes glow.
But you, even if your mind
Is filled with images of collapsed
Mountains, volcanic rubble, charred
Trunks, where life and sound have lapsed,
Recall, at any rate, Miss Mary
Mack, who had silver buttons all down
Her back, no doubt she strung pearls
Into a necklace and put on a crown.
Because I gave her a piece of my heart
She had my heart and I had a hole
In my heart. But the doctor said fine, I will fix it
Better than ever with a piece of a scroll.
Yaacov David Shulman