Heat rises. (It gets trapped
Underneath the ceiling. Outside,
Clouds roll in, and fog sticks
To the hill and soon it’s wide
And it fills the valley and the streets,
A crow flaps from a lamppost.
This is the world.) First, the girl
Fell in love with the avocets on the coast,
Next, you couldn’t see the sun
But you could see the light, it meant the sand
Would still be mute, it meant that the sidewalk
Would not allow you to be unmanned,
The true yellow of the sun
Was orange and white, and the blend of your skin
And your thoughts, of your bones and your words, seeped
And let a vaulting silence in.
Fundamentally, the brain
Itself sees nothing, but the more
You crawl into your brain, the more
You see, an Eden in the floor,
Lust turns into love, the desert
Saturated orange fades and shines,
At night the chilly stars hang
Comets fall in northwest lines.
Whale songs travel for a thousand
Miles. The brain of the whale, the mind,
The tempo and the intervals,
A stillness that cannot be confined.
I don’t understand the multiple merger
Assembly of a hyperluminous quasar,
What impels its tidal, dusty bridges,
All I know is space and star,
All I know is an array
Of galaxies that spread across
My mind. I tear one down and build
Another. I make a forest and moss,
I make a rivulet that trickles
Down brown soil, and then I see
A real hill, a real sky
The night, a dusty galaxy.
He didn’t build the bridge, because
He was gazing at the moon. And then
He didn’t go to the moon because
He was already in the den
Of a creature larger than a solar
System. He saw lines of reason,
He created palaces, he floated
On the heat and cold of every season.
“Look at more than your eyes can see,
At more than a pattern, and in the pattern
Right and wrong and humility.
Love Earth and Mars, and yellow Saturn,”
A wind of photons, a shiver of mind
Creates a tower of Pisa, a Hermia,
Creates a curtain of light, creates
A tumbling rock, panspermia.
It’s only natural if you’re walking on Phobos
Not to want to overshoot
The mark. Keep walking though. Keep
The view in view. Give some of your loot
To an indigent Martian. Some people leap,
They wonder, Why walk? And there they are,
Floating about that fat red ball.
We crawl across Mars in a fat-wheeled car
And draw electricity from the atmosphere,
The men in the other camp are drinking
Beer. We dig in the soil, we discover
Life. And the other camp is sinking,
They no longer listen to earth, they are hoping
To float, to slide to Ganymede.
Their camp is pestilence and ruin,
Their records speak of song and greed.
Something was always missing, a broken
Telescope, a valve that did
Not join. They knew about space, they had
Ideals and eagerness, a fetid
Gloom remains. Where we are,
We dig the soil, we seek not stars
But a structure that nothing can touch
And oil that can fill a hundred jars.
Add light to light, the magma shines
From the crack on the sea floor, the fish
Scatter in every direction, the tube worms
Wave their scarlet fronds. The cloudish
Sea is filled with eggs (inside,
The tiny dots are eyes). A line
Of yellow marks the creeping sun
That soon, you think, will shine,
And even if the day is just
Another day, the fish leap
Onto the deck, to the children, at least,
They are a delight that comes from the deep.
The pigeon feeds her chicks crop milk,
And so does the father, as matter of fact,
And the orangutan nurses her child
Seven years, and words of wisdom attract
The mind, we grope, we compare, we sleep,
Taste a coffee or a tea,
And mix that with the smell of rain,
The light upon a memory.
I had it all wrong. What? You’ll see,
Because all of the paths lined with mint
And trees with sample fruits on their boughs,
The wind and the Septuagint,
They are all new. Inside the eye,
Nanorobots travel through
The vitreous body, and in a quasi
One-dimensional world, two
Iterations come from the
Electron. Acanthostega creep
Upon the shore, they aren’t shy,
And comets carry, in their steep
Climb across the heavens, amino
Acids, past a proto-world.
Amoeba jiggle, sea worms wiggle,
The shining tentacles, uncurled,
Of the bioluminescent squid,
And a new light shines in the sky,
Is it a yellow dwarf? And here
Another egg, a song, a magpie.
Chaos tears apart clouds,
Ditto galaxies and electrons,
Sometimes hearts, or memories,
Or gold, titanium or bronze,
And sometimes it swirls among neurons,
Hormones seep through the blood,
Ideas pop of barren fields,
Of tundras melting into mud,
Then all the days, it seems, are swept
Along the line of light and dark
That slides along the spinning globe
And shines across a bounding arc,
And from the night emerges day
And from the day emerges light
And from the light a burst of mind
And blindness, shudder, sudden sight.
Something bitter, some unexpected thought,
Some collapsing glacier wall, some discovery
Of excited gamma waves, some slip
On El Capitan, recovery
At the end of a rope, don’t be afraid,
Cling to the wall itself, cling
To molecules, cling to night
Or wind or to an echoing,
The Brooks River roars in Katmai Park,
The sunlight soaks closed eyelids,
The passage through wind-softened rocks
Contains the murmur of katydids.
Yaacov David Shulman