Well now, here’s a wall, it’s
Made of scraps of youtube and
Of arguments, it’s scraped and
Moldy, here’s a chunk of Grand
Army Plaza, there’s a cardboard
Soggy hole, soaked with ink,
There’s a plain of mirrors
And one only sees oneself, pink
And shiny, and there’s a forest
Where one only wails and where
One never sees oneself, one
Emerges feeling free, rare,
Until one hits the boiling flats,
And here’s a field of memories,
Sandy, scrubby, with a winding way,
With frogs, with fog and prickling fleas.
And on the other side, a street,
A walkway, a factory filled
With cogs, assembly lines, stores
Filled with rows, with carboys of distilled
Water, with libraries, arches,
Stone lions, with parks where
Circles of people do tai chi,
And a zoo with a calm, contented bear.
Well then, figure it out,
Green or white or blue,
Serrated, crinolined, bottled,
Scalloped, masked, stuck with glue,
Awake for breakfast, sleepy at noon,
Tottering about on its pins,
A bat trapped battering walls,
A spirit grasping two mandolins,
And if you are yearning for something,
It better be bigger than pie,
Cherry or pumpkin, it better expand
It better spin out of control in the sky,
It better be ribbons or lights
On the boardwalk, it better be
Dawn or the roar of the sea
A melting comet, a revelry,
This yearning that won’t stop,
That keeps sneaking back
Into my creaking joints, that
Wiggles its weedy way up the cracks,
That wakes and grouses late at night,
That wanders and tosses, that
Grumbles and curses and spits and
Grows lean, looks at this and at that.
Sink into cool. An augmented ninth,
And a whole lot of flubs flip down
To the floor, and the righteous sky
The mind, the clear shine of the crown,
The road, the dawn, the paperbark,
The ferns, the lacewings,
Brighter than golden slabs of sun,
Thicker than the dusk of evenings,
Larger than the strands of stars,
The pink and blue gases rising
To mountains of God, and there is
A thirst, and all one’s hopes are ionizing
And all one’s hollows shimmer
And all one’s thoughts glimmer,
And God shines more brightly
But the cedars do not grow dimmer.
First you set your mind in order.
It is like a couple of slices of cake.
Set up against the border.
Then you turn on the lights.
You set the engines humming.
And they play like fireflies in the nights.
Or first you light the colored squares in the sky.
And then you flick on the switch that lights up the why.
And the two send searchlights to each other.
And the lights spread out over the Atlantic.
The desert crystallizes, the mountain rises, oh sister, oh brother!
First of all, the song
That is holy and Divine,
That is filled
With mead and wine.
A song covered with pitch
Is not a song, it
Out on a spit
Of land, an island
Of prose, and the trees
Run riot, and the senses,
And the flowers trail bees.
One thought filled with the epitome
Of all ideas—their edges glint--
And then a wind blows, a holy wind.
If one grain is missing, a tint
Of a gesture, a philosophy,
A philosophy that scrapes
A pitch-bubbling floor, its
Creativity is flawed, it gapes,
Its character escapes, the Divine
Flies away. Oh the gleaming
Spirits of the demons, but
They stumble, they flounder, dreaming
Of oblivion, of dying, of pulling
Down the dark cold on the whole
Stinking planet, and their friends
Sit in the UN, Khoshroo and Anatole,
Whose pleasure is destruction,
Collapsing buildings, civilians screaming,
Absolute rubble, acid clouds,
And the asphalt melting and blaspheming.
It is all one: the honor of
God, the honor of the human being,
The honor of the world, the honor
Of curtains of stars open sesameing,
And we raise the human spirit
To the apogee, so that at the railing
We feel the wind of God. If we
Grovel, we sleep, our bones ailing,
But a high wind won’t allow us
To rest, it won’t let us stand alone,
To seek messages from the hippopotamus
And the antelope’s dry bone.
And our human honor fills museum
Rooms, there is no statue, but
We see, and God’s honor is our honor,
And the sun is caught in the hazelnut.
The cascading river carried an armada.
There was the ship of wisdom, there was
The ship of deeds, there was the ship
Whose captain knew directions, cous-
In to the ship that held the library,
Traveling to the cliff that formed
A hieroglyphic. A wind flecked
With fire swirled above the spring, stormed,
A rough rush of hail, a soft
Warmer scent intertwined,
Their spiral soared, corkscrewed
To a vast blue mind.
Here you are, you’re yearning for that
Great light, your heart is humming,
It wants great things, it wants to know,
It wants the sweet Divine—you’re succumbing
To dismay, because you cannot pay
The bills, because you have no friend,
Because you cannot read a manual,
Because of light you apprehend,
Be thankful for the gift you own,
Your own trail, your own woods,
But for heaven’s sake, do what you can
To help your neighbors with their goods.
The body listens to the soul ring,
It feels the hidden river, its
Tributaries , how it carries branches,
How the swirling chimings it transmits
Come to the sense of speech, how
The words press, how the compulsion
Of life fills the words. It listens
And it feels an inner convulsion,
It controls itself, it knows
That it must be strong, it must expand
Its boundaries for light, it must
Be great, faithful, humble, grand
With life, until it feels the word
Of God. (And the body, usually so busy,
Strains, silent, searches for a graded road,
And strains to say or hear a word, close to dizzy.)
A holy soul needs a body that
Can take the charge. When the surge
Of electricity leaps up, that shows
A body filled with every tempered urge,
And the wind mixes with the rain,
And the echo of a shofar
Anoints the leaves with dew,
Anoints the mind with gleam of star,
A fresh view, a gray sea, a spout,
A biting taste of salt, a clearing,
A brightness, a knowledge of bricks,
Of interstices appearing and disappearing.
Yaacov David Shulman