Not everyone has laws. They come
From life, the crisp autumn comes
With the wind, it comes down from
The mountains, it shakes the geraniums.
The feral cats don’t notice the fading
Stars, the blur of orange-pink,
And the quiet in the hollow of
The day that speaks, their eyes blink,
They do not see the fantasy,
The shocking wealth, the sap in the tree,
They think it has always been here, the supple
Wind, the cars and their ennui.
A solar system where the space
Itself is threatening, the space
Between planets, at opposite ends
Of their orbits. I am rooted in one place,
In Planet X, I despise
Every tumbling asteroid
And I am mixed with empty hate
And I am tumbling in the void.
The captain of the expedition
Wants to be everywhere,
He wants to be Shakleton
And Captain Kirk, a debonair
Livingstone, if you wish to explore
The Delaware, the antipodes,
And you cannot stay on Carroll Street
Or go native with the Balinese,
Your starship will shake, your bathysphere
Will sink in murky brine and you
Will see the giant squid, or else,
Upon a crag in Manaslu,
The leaden clouds will press upon
Your hammock, the vulture will hover,
The ultraviolet rays will streak
Ferociously, and you will discover
A fearful contemplation, a question,
“Where am I?” and think, “All
Of these wonders are greater than I am,
I shrink beneath the wind and snowfall.”
We tumbled into the ravine.
But we’ll get out. Scraped, banged up,
And with a knock on the head that makes you think,
“Who did this? Really, what’s the setup?
“My gosh, I want to have some facts!
I’ll go straight to the top. See if I don’t!”
A wind sweeps down from the hills,
The trees bend, and those that won’t
Snap, their sharp shards look foreign
When the sun comes out. The ants are back,
Repairing their work, the sticklebacks
Are hungry, the boys leap in the haystack.
A scrap from The Daily Mail, the sight
Of a Skechers ad on a van, a wave
Of nostalgia, of regret, and a bear lumbers
And stumbles about in the damp cave.
And you find meaning in the trash,
You say that it is good, that you
Can find some use for it, that it
Will light some far and crystal avenue.
You row back, your nets have caught
The crystal jellyfish. You row
A vast ocean, and on your narrow path
You reap the water’s eerie glow.
The story that you tell that blends
The ocean and your path goes down
To the cold, black ocean floor
And rises to the Northern Crown.
The stones that you knew from the start are
Jade and tanzanite will yield
Their lines, will glint, different
From stalks of wheat dropped in the field.
Life finds its way, it bubbles and
It surges, through plan and accident,
Through mind and heart, through sleep and flight,
Through logic or presentiment.
Yearn to pull all of the furniture
Out of the basement and into the yard.
That includes the crazy quilt,
The space heater, the deep, unmarred
Writing desk, and the classical stereo
System. Everything, everything must
Be seen, this is good, this is true.
You’ll see new things, you’ll see the rust,
Under the tree, it will look raw--
“In the dim light, with the Bob Marley
Wall hanging, we rejoiced, we danced,
We drank to the tunes of Big Jim Farley,
We wandered out to the lawn and thought:
The stars are more clear to us than they
Have ever been for anyone.” But it was
Only marijuana, a spray
Of loneliness or breathless hope,
And here are our things, displayed on the grass.
Empty jars won’t be venerated
Forever, come up and I will pass
Some coffee in a demitasse.
Life sometimes happens so confusing, so quickly,
A pounding on the door at two in the morning,
And the smile on your face is helpful but sickly,
You’re flushed with love or ambition, they wrote
You’ll appear in March on America’s Got Talent,
You come home from a workshop, your mind is blown,
You melt inside, you swear you’ll be gallant,
But—the flame, the melting wax,
Is not the warmth that seeps across
The room, and Jurassic Park is not
The majesty of the rhinoceros.
And the goal of a distant star, of a green
Curtain, a silent room, a breezy
Night, pine trees, a bird that wakens
At the wrong time, returns to an easy
Sleep, does not contradict the grid
Of clarity, of rules, routine,
The net in the sea, we will never even
Lose the pleasure of our weakest scene,
Our clapping and our swaying, the heaven
Of our weak emotions—because, after all,
We are caught inside our flesh, champagne
Makes us think and lean against the wall.
That’s no reason not to arrange
The field in a geometric shape
And hang the stillest bells in the garden,
And the golden ratio on the seascape,
Only where the path is true,
The chambers of the heart are vast,
And the soul pervades the air, its light
Is rich, its thoughts are clear and fast,
And it wears a crown that cannot be seen,
Without all those natterings of the flesh,
(Until the flesh itself becomes the soul,
And freedom no different than the mesh).
Yaacov David Shulman