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).
The tongue is a wad of flesh. It turns
The soul into words. Our souls crowd
Around the tongue, seeking to
Reveal themselves. Seeds that were plowed
Under push at the soil, tendrils
Seek the hollow spaces between
The soil, they burst through there,
They seek the air of the ravine,
If not for the soil, no tendril would ever
Grow, the soil holds back the grass,
The tree, because the soil itself is rich,
Allows the mountain and crevasse.
Everything feels right, everything
Feels complete, moths drink the tears
Of sleeping birds, bears roam through
Labrador, but even they are in arrears
To the sun, to its quarks, to the photons streaming
Through dark space, to its boiling core,
To its coiling corona, to the bee that licks
Turtles’ tears, to the lichen spore,
The tickets to the museum of your own
Elaborate thoughts, give them away,
After all, you own a forest, an orchard,
And a cavern with streaks of radium decay,
In the evening, the sunlight is mauve,
The sea is shadow, the air seeps
Across the city, balconies, poplars,
Muslin curtains blow, the baby sleeps.
Sometimes, one act can destroy
What a thousand thoughts and feelings
Cannot repair. The air is filled
Weeping, fires smudge the ceilings,
Weasels lick their wounds, children
Are born, photographs burn, dreams
Messages, trout die in streams,
Or a single thought may repair
A thousand destructions, a light
Goes on, you see the creatures lumber
And clumsily fight, their hide is white
And red, a path can be redeemed,
A blighted grapevine, yellow and spotted,
Your fingers twitch, you pull, you want
To see all of the tangles unknotted,
Sometimes one thought is more
Of a blessing than a thousand acts,
The air is soaked with vapor, the geyser
Bubbles, you long for cataracts,
The facts are as they are, the light
Has changed, a glowing from the west,
Candles flicker, silent spaces of stars,
Fear and longing clear and unexpressed.
Sometimes a single act destroys
What a thousand plans and feelings can’t
Repair. (Oh my! All those years
Of therapy, of meditative chant!)
And sometimes one thought, thrown
Backwards in time, repairs (at least
In yourself) a thousand smoking homes,
It kills the skulking, smoking beast.
The air is full of lights, it
Is charged with electric storms.
The bees are buzzing amidst the trumpet
Vines, at night, weightless swarms
Of fireflies flash and disappear.
The artist paints a flower, then praises
The flower. Within its fractal petals,
A series of orange flowers blazes.
There is a pool, the pool has a source,
The water sings, a waterfall,
Then rapids, the froth scintillating,
Across the current, silver glimmers sprawl.
When the lights are alive, northern
Lights in sweeping green folds,
Sparked into life by the sun,
In storms of purples and golds,
Lights that prickle, lights that glint,
Lights of the forests, of the park,
Lights of the tundra, lights that
Inspire throat singing. The dark
Siberian pine contains a healing
Sap, the day and evening blend,
Light and life intertwine, with
The name of God, from beginning to end.
The light produces glucose in
The leaves, it glows upon the gray
Lizard’s back, spiders raise
Their legs to the wind-splayed way.
When the sun shines, every baobab
Tree is free, another limb
Of a single earth, neurons snuggle
In the brain, and in the dim
Morning light, four rivers flow
Before four palaces, the sunlight
Pulses and the streams of photons
Flick the cave front of the troglodyte.
Yaacov David Shulman