The Buoyancy of Light


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A dead moon falls forever
above a blasted world
Where thin winds stir
only powders and grains of sand;

Once shallow seas sang wetly to the moon,
And watered wonders
in the shadows and deeps,
rose and fell
by the hand of
the ancient moon.

But for 500 million years
the rocks forgot
the coolness of water
and know only dust
And thin breezes,
And awful silences.

But still the moon rolls past,
night after night,
Playing its pale beams over the
sands, looking, looking,
Sending seductive waves of gravity,
Searching abandoned places,
Reaching out to nothingness,
Not knowing futility, only
The buoyancy of light.

(revised/new art from three years ago)

Moon

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Why I Do This


A writer of modest talent can only hope one day to put together a word or two—on on a rare week, a phrase—that’s worth keeping. This is not the conceit of perfectionism. This is just the reality of a mediocre vision that cannot totally grasp and share what floats in and out of view. It’s the frustration that has to be managed—The gap between what might be glimpsed, a brief impression of something sublime, and the skill that, were it a painting, only produces stick figure drawings.

So the experience is one of enduring a sense of constant failure, working to press my cheek up against the foggy glass that keeps me from the truth, but still trying to catch a scent of it and convey it honestly….Throwing the lariat a thousand times at a stallion that prances just out of reach, hoping that one more throw will tame the beast and bring him nearer to feel the heat and the true wild life of him.

That’s the job. (Neurotic? Of course it is. But what’s a little neurosis among friends?). It’s just a matter of putting up with failure long enough to feel the hot breath of something beautiful. It is insanity. But oh, so seductive.

The Long Rhythms


Earth

Put your ear to the earth and wait…

Tune your senses to the long rhythms…

Listen…..

The sun’s daily higher in the sky,

It pounds a fist on the grave’s door:

Awake!

Dormant in the frozen ground,

Life stirs from a sleep like death

Shudders and swells and pushes its fingers and shoulders against

The things that would keep it dead, climbing toward the

roar of the Sun:

Awake!

Listen….

Tune your senses to the long rhythms,

Close your eyes and see with an inner eye.

Life, bundled mystery, sleeps now,
but prepares to stir, move,

Grow from nothing to cover the world,

Rejoicing, contending, affirming, seeking, dying,

living again. Seeking and finding change.

The shoving and shifting and movement toward the light

Makes a soundless roar we will feel through our feet.

Listen….

© Hemmingplay 2014

25,000 days


I’ve managed to make it through almost 25,000 days

by accidentally avoiding fatal incidents.

The first 23,756 (or so) I was rushing from one to the next,

believing, without evidence, that my presence was required.

But lately, I’ve been wondering what all the hurry was for.

At my age, I’ve become convinced that time needs to be slowed down,

and that the cheapest way to do that is to pretend

the clocks and calendars are all wrong.

The alternative — that I’m largely irrelevant, or just a mild irritant — is

too unpleasant–to consider.

My dog’s strategy is to sleep over there, twitching, dreaming,

reliving the exciting chase of a squirrel this morning.

She seldom catches one in these dreams. Neither do I.

Upstream is a Dream


Time… a deep river with a fast current,

the past always upstream.

You can try to go back,

try to swim against the flow,

but it’s no use. The current is too strong.

Oh, you might taste a memory,

But are soon worn out, and,

forced to tend to immediate problems.

Eventually just let the water

carry you along. It’s much easier.

There are shouts and cries of others.

The banks are near and sharp.

The past is out of sight and

mist hides everything ahead and behind.

The water is turbulent and dark.

You can’t see the rocks and drowned snags until you’re

right on them.

Then it’s up to luck and leg strength.

Sometimes you miss them, sometimes they get you.

Sometimes the screams you hear are your own.

But always the flow pushes ever down,

through unseen dangers, into the future.

The Work


© 2014
Pause
©Hemmingplay 2014

The old one-eyed poet said it is harder to
dismantle your life than to build it, but
I think it is just as difficult both ways.

I’m putting the finishing touches on the house of me.
Bolting the copper trout wind vane on the chimney,
mounting the mailbox by the road,
putting in the shrubbery and sod, laying out the welcome mat.

And doing it all never knowing if today
might be the last, or whether I have
6,200 more sunrises to enjoy, as I saw once in a dream.

It’s all just vanity, after all. I’ll pile my collection of rocks
beside the trail and someone will come along and
knock them over, not realizing what they are,
then steal a few to build their own pile.

These are not unusual worries and really
only concern me and a distressingly small circle of people.

The Nile River doesn’t care either way, Miami and
San Francisco and Shanghai are still going to flood,
people will always believe flim-flam artists,
the dinosaurs are still dead.

This life-sorting–patching and filtering—
feels like falling asleep on a muggy
afternoon and waking up sweaty,
disoriented, not sure where – or who—you are.

The Work, though, goes on.
It means to remember things, to patch torn screens,
To oil squeaky hinges of faintly remembered doors,
To somehow put a name to things and to see
What actually matters and which bits were bullshit.
(There has been a lot of the latter.)

The woman behind me on the train is coughing, reminding me
that most of us die of suffocation,
Choking on our own accumulated miseries.
I can think of better ways to go.
This makes me start coughing, too.

And so I write it down.

Time


Shameless plug: 

This is a hoot. I just got an email from the Austin International Poetry Foundation that another poem (the one below from last year) was accepted for the “Di-vêrsé-city Anthology” and they invited me to go to the festival in April to read it. (I probably won’t be able to go, unfortunately. Maybe someday.)

But you can still register and make it. Austin in April is nice.
More info: https://www.aipf.org/aipf/default.asp

 

steampunk-hourglass-passing-time-sand-hourglass-d8de33e363e9f38a

I tried skipping in and out of a
stream once
And learned I could not
Touch the same water twice.
Asleep for 50 years,
More or less, and, now awake,
I fear there is not enough time for the work.

We don’t have time to be clever,
Show me what I have missed.
We use the idea of time
To pretend everything
Doesn’t happen at once,
And judge it by our own puny lifespans.
Barely able to cry “I am here”
And we are gone,
Like fireworks shot to the stars
On a cloudy night.

Ticks


awesome-clocks-wallpaper-computer-816

The ticking of a clock is the
sound our invisible blood makes
as it ducks out the back door of today
and takes the bus out of
town to yesterday.

The clock’s mechanism creates
the illusion that everything
is controlled by
even, orderly forces.
But there is always the
last ‘tick’. Then what?

I counted to ten, and
with each count I dropped a
stone in the stream.
The stones all sank
but the memory of each moved on,
evenly spaced,
stone became water, cause-
effect, separated by time.

 

Time and Mountains


russians-climb-pyramids

The time was, we thought we had a handle on time,
but our time here is so short that there’s no
time to really understand what time is–
or even if we ever will.
There just isn’t enough of it for anything.

The pharaohs sat their fat asses
firmly on a people who could not
remember a time before this curious arrangement…
Before there were these arrogant
bastards who thought they knew best,
who thought the world worked best
as a pyramid with them at the top.

In the times of the pharaohs,
time had a different meaning…there
in the dull, slow heat of the desert
in between floods and plagues and
the brief, beautiful springtime.

After a while, the parasites tricked the people,
who were bored and out of work
and likely to cause trouble,
into piling millions of
blocks of rocks in magnificent piles as if
to say to the gods, “See, we can
build mountains, too!”
It also proved the Pharaoh
had the right to be in charge
since no one wanted to go to the trouble
of tearing all those rocks down.

But where are the pharaohs now?
Like real mountains, their piles of rocks will
end up as grains of sand,
blowing across the expanse of eternity
until they drift up against the
base of some other fool’s monument.

I once had an uneasy relationship
with time, in the person of clocks.
I couldn’t wake with the sun, or sleep when
it got dark, and my soul was always
out of sorts, and anxious.
But at least everything didn’t happen
all at the same time…

They say time-keeping changed when
railroad people needed to make things work
across vast distances. For commerce.
Speed made organization and precision necessary.
Then factories needed everyone to begin
making things all at the same…. time.
There’s that word again.

I don’t worry as much about clocks any more.
I let the computers keep track for me
and watch time rush past as if
in a hurry to join its siblings in the distant past
where it can get away from clocks.
There it can sink back into the black
cloud of being, where everything has already happened.

Deadline


c0tazuexcae4r2d

I dreamt of a place, not long ago, and the dream, unusual for me, showed even the most mundane things in vivid, sharp detail. Clothing, clouds, leaves on the ground, birds against the sky, dust motes floating.

But not at first. At first I was in the dark, walking blindly on a long journey through a wood. I only knew that something big was ahead. It was my show. I was expected.

I’m a modern man, raised on science and skepticism. But the longer I’ve lived, my ancient spirit has me lurch against things I cannot understand and I’ve had to make allowances.

Continue reading “Deadline”

After IKKYU: Number 30


150628-asteroid2_fc9f9835e5509504dd7a4df41dfba2ec-nbcnews-fp-1240-520

by Jim Harrison

It’s difficult to imagine the conversations
between Jesus and Buddha this very moment
These androgynous blood brothers demand our imagination.
They could ask Shakespeare and Mozart to write words
and music, and perhaps a dozen others, but they’ve done so.
The vast asteroid on its way toward LA goes unmentioned.

____________

in “The Shape of the Journey,” 1998. Copper Canyon Press

Deep Time At Mohenjo-daro


This site in Sindh, Pakistan is one of the earliest major urban settlements, with signs of both city planning, social organization and a draining system. An estimated 40,000 people lived in the area.
This is the site in Sindh, Pakistan of Mohenjo-daro, one of the earliest major urban settlements, with signs of both city planning, social organization and a draining system. An estimated 40,000 people lived in the area.

Once, long ago, I stood over the bones of a man
Who had died at the gate of an ancient city,
An arrow through his throat.

He slept through the ages in charcoal and rubble,
The world above spun round through centuries, but he was
Oblivious to all such petty things,
His city burned and
fallen on his unmarked grave,
Then itself buried and forgotten.  

A jewel of the Bronze Age,
Thriving in the time of Khufu of Egypt,
This city would rise and
Be destroyed again, five times,
Until it was buried a final time,
At the time Crusaders died
At Jerusalem’s gates. Continue reading “Deep Time At Mohenjo-daro”

This Old House


Front Door

This old house is made of wood and paint and memories, but
Lately, the sense that our time here will end has hovered on my shoulder,
A faint melancholy of knowing that one day I will walk out one last time,
Hand the keys to someone who won’t know any of it.

That spot in the dining room wall where a teenage
Tantrum left a divot in the plaster from a chair tossed in anger.
Where the same child discovered the internet, found a girl
In California and talked up a huge long-distance phone bill.

Where B&B guests gathered from around the world
To chat at the table over Bismarks and sausages and coffee on
Their brief swing through this old house, and our lives.

Continue reading “This Old House”

Impatience Is A Virtue?


giphy-1

It is after the nights, a week, a month—sometimes—

After I flirt with silly half-assery and questions.

 After I get lost, a little. Lose the plot, the scent, the signal…

(When you take the road less traveled—

Which is the only one that really interests me—

Sometimes you don’t know where the hell you are.

The street signs are all different.)

 I stop, wait, put my good ear to the ground. Sniff the wind.

Maybe hitch a ride, hop a freight, wake up

In the damp air of new places, strange mountains, different accents,

Maybe it’ll be beignets and chicory coffee in N’awwlins; maybe

It’ll be the call of an elk, or the tang of the pines

In some high, wild place;

Maybe it’s a street under the clatter of the EL in Chicago, or maybe it’s

Feeling the sizzle of the naked sun on my back,

Building fence in the high desert in July.

After all this time I just know that I

Can only ride out the nonsense,

Embrace the nothingness, hug it tight

As the other half of meaning.

I’m impatient; I worry I’ll run out of time.

But this runs at its own pace.

For just as quickly, despite the trivia and side trips, and

Without warning, a sudden dawn will burst up like thunder,

And I’ll be back in tune, but maybe on a different road.

Hello, sweet August. You’re looking pretty good in that summer dress.

Let’s take a walk, talk a little. Maybe fool around like kids.

It looks like it’ll be a nice day.

What say we go get in a little trouble?

Breathe Briefly


IMG_2356

We breathe so briefly of Life,
Of Spring days and Summer rains,
And winters’ nights, too quickly gone.

Our years fly away like ash
From a dying campfire,
Lost in the darkness
Fluttering up to the stars.

Yet our days let us
Feel and think and wonder,
Love, and grieve loves lost,
Enfold our children in our arms
Until they fly.

The flames and embers of the fire
Are alive, dancing, shifting,
Filling my mind with
Thoughts of eternity.
I lean in, looking for signs
And warmth.

Connected

Birds Make Holes in Heaven


1019-HOFO-UMIGRATE

Birds are here to make holes in Heaven
Through which our souls may fly.

This morning mine fluttered and flapped,
Struggled to gain altitude against
The anchors of memory and attitude.

The dog thinks it time to take me
Out to the forest again
So I can watch and learn, see her lose herself
In the Mountain Laurel and streams,
Yet emerge in happiness in her true self.

I’ll walk behind her to where
I’m going and stand still, like the Blue Heron,
Who misses nothing in the stream, yet waiting for
A passing uplifting breeze.

 

5 Billion Years of Solitude*


MilkyWay_Java_justin Ng

Are we alone in the Universe?
After 5 billion years of solitude,
Are we really alone?
For the first time in human history we are getting the non-religious answer:

Nope. We can’t be.

Here’s the math:

  • 100 billion planets in the Milky Way (conservatively speaking; it is probably four times that)
  • Of that, astronomers estimate 50 billion would be rocky worlds in some way similar to Earth (or four times that)
  • 1/10th of 1% of these = 50 million that might be water worlds (or four times… oh, you get the idea)
  • Too much? Ok, cut it to 1/100 of 1% of 50 billion. That’s still a whopping 5 million

Five million Earths.

Maybe more. Maybe a lot more.

So, no. We’re not alone.

I’m just afraid of one thing: That we’re maybe the galaxy’s cockroaches, and the 5 million of our neighbors are one giant Orkin fleet with really big flyswatters.

________________________________________________________

I’ve been reading science fiction since I was in the 5th grade, and have been a total space geek.  I read this book a while ago, but since then there have been some radical discoveries with Keppler that have changed things. A lot.

It’s now very plausible, if not highly probable– no, it’s definite–that there are a Kirk-load of planets very much like Earth.

This means there must be others. Like us, or very, very, very different. But others. Bet you (one of you) $5.

But why does that not make me feel good? I do not feel good. And I watched ET and everything.

177076375 Billion Years of Solitude,
By Lee Billings

The Voice of Istanbul


I think it’s good to be astonished by at least one thing a day. My favorite line from this is “do not look for sparks in ashes long buried”.

fadingglory_dec08_631.jpg__800x600_q85_crop
“I see change with the patience of centuries.”

by Gündüz Vassaf

“They say I am between the East and the West.
An identity crisis! Whose? Mine or theirs?
Enough of this nonsense.
Take the labels off and look at me. Just look

You won’t need a guidebook. Like all cities, I have my own sense of time.
I am a labyrinth of layers that only makes sense without a compass.
Trust me. Let yourself be, let yourself go.
But be careful what you go away with.
When you leave, all my empires, my religions, and passions
will be your fertile soil wherever you go.

Praised that I am, I am not proud. Much has been written about me.
To those who have found me melancholic
I say, “do not look for sparks in ashes long buried”.
To those who seek, amusement, I do not exhibit my past as
decorations for a perpetual carnival.
I am a home, I am a home without owners.

Istanbul-17-edit-940x576
One of the famous cats of Istanbul.

If you’re hesitant, not sure which way to go as you walk about, follow one of my cats. They will lead you to places, introduce you to people,
point out secrets they keep even from me.
They, more than anyone, are the longest continuing residents of the city

A challenge to those who see the future in my past,
I am an obstacle for those who see only the future.
I see change with the patience of centuries.
Some want only to change the past and shout opportunity.

Look at my silhouette from the bridge on the Golden Horn.
Time has not passed me by, it has protected me.
I ask you, the same[1]”.

I Did Not Die Young


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I could have, of course.
We all could.
The random indifference of this world will
Drive you nuts if you think about it too much.
It’s why we try so hard to be in control.
Because we know in our bones
That this, of all things,
Is impossible.
Yet we try, because we can’t quite believe
That we are not the answer the world
Has waited for.

But I did not die young.
If I had, I would not have seen
The sun come up on this particular day,
Somehow different from the 24,503 that came before.

I would not have seen the way it
Stirred the air and made the buds of the lilac
Dance in little, subdued circles,
Waiting for the last snows to melt.

Long Road


the adventure_ByMojebory

I do not trust myself to be completely honest. About anything. Not completely. Does anyone ever become the wave sweeping across the ocean, or sink into the Ground of Being?

I just don’t know enough. Nor do I know whether it is possible to learn or understand enough.

IMG_1207All I can do is keep looking, learning, failing, hoping, healing, moving… and know the journey will probably never be finished.

The Egg


Eye of wonder

By Andy Weir

You were on your way home when you died.

It was a car accident. Nothing particularly remarkable, but fatal nonetheless. You left behind a wife and two children. It was a painless death. The EMTs tried their best to save you, but to no avail. Your body was so utterly shattered you were better off, trust me.

And that’s when you met me.

“What… what happened?” You asked. “Where am I?”

“You died,” I said, matter-of-factly. No point in mincing words.

“There was a… a truck and it was skidding…”

“Yup,” I said.

“I… I died?”

“Yup. But don’t feel bad about it. Everyone dies,” I said.

You looked around. There was nothingness. Just you and me. “What is this place?” You asked. “Is this the afterlife?”

“More or less,” I said.

“Are you god?” You asked.

“Yup,” I replied. “I’m God.”

“My kids… my wife,” you said.

“What about them?”

“Will they be all right?”

“That’s what I like to see,” I said. “You just died and your main concern is for your family. That’s good stuff right there.”

You looked at me with fascination. To you, I didn’t look like God. I just looked like some man. Or possibly a woman. Some vague authority figure, maybe. More of a grammar school teacher than the almighty.

“Don’t worry,” I said. “They’ll be fine. Your kids will remember you as perfect in every way. They didn’t have time to grow contempt for you. Your wife will cry on the outside, but will be secretly relieved. To be fair, your marriage was falling apart. If it’s any consolation, she’ll feel very guilty for feeling relieved.”

“Oh,” you said. “So what happens now? Do I go to heaven or hell or something?”

“Neither,” I said. “You’ll be reincarnated.”

“Ah,” you said. “So the Hindus were right,”

“All religions are right in their own way,” I said. “Walk with me.”

You followed along as we strode through the void. “Where are we going?”

“Nowhere in particular,” I said. “It’s just nice to walk while we talk.”

“So what’s the point, then?” You asked. “When I get reborn, I’ll just be a blank slate, right? A baby. So all my experiences and everything I did in this life won’t matter.”

“Not so!” I said. “You have within you all the knowledge and experiences of all your past lives. You just don’t remember them right now.”

I stopped walking and took you by the shoulders. “Your soul is more magnificent, beautiful, and gigantic than you can possibly imagine. A human mind can only contain a tiny fraction of what you are. It’s like sticking your finger in a glass of water to see if it’s hot or cold. You put a tiny part of yourself into the vessel, and when you bring it back out, you’ve gained all the experiences it had.

“You’ve been in a human for the last 48 years, so you haven’t stretched out yet and felt the rest of your immense consciousness. If we hung out here for long enough, you’d start remembering everything. But there’s no point to doing that between each life.”

“How many times have I been reincarnated, then?”

“Oh lots. Lots and lots. An into lots of different lives.” I said. “This time around, you’ll be a Chinese peasant girl in 540 AD.”

“Wait, what?” You stammered. “You’re sending me back in time?”

“Well, I guess technically. Time, as you know it, only exists in your universe. Things are different where I come from.”

“Where you come from?” You said.

“Oh sure,” I explained “I come from somewhere. Somewhere else. And there are others like me. I know you’ll want to know what it’s like there, but honestly you wouldn’t understand.”

“Oh,” you said, a little let down. “But wait. If I get reincarnated to other places in time, I could have interacted with myself at some point.”

“Sure. Happens all the time. And with both lives only aware of their own lifespan you don’t even know it’s happening.”

“So what’s the point of it all?”

“Seriously?” I asked. “Seriously? You’re asking me for the meaning of life? Isn’t that a little stereotypical?”

“Well it’s a reasonable question,” you persisted.

I looked you in the eye. “The meaning of life, the reason I made this whole universe, is for you to mature.”

“You mean mankind? You want us to mature?”

“No, just you. I made this whole universe for you. With each new life you grow and mature and become a larger and greater intellect.”

“Just me? What about everyone else?”

“There is no one else,” I said. “In this universe, there’s just you and me.”

You stared blankly at me. “But all the people on earth…”

“All you. Different incarnations of you.”

“Wait. I’m everyone!?”

“Now you’re getting it,” I said, with a congratulatory slap on the back.

“I’m every human being who ever lived?”

“Or who will ever live, yes.”

“I’m Abraham Lincoln?”

“And you’re John Wilkes Booth, too,” I added.

“I’m Hitler?” You said, appalled.

“And you’re the millions he killed.”

“I’m Jesus?”

“And you’re everyone who followed him.”

You fell silent.

“Every time you victimized someone,” I said, “you were victimizing yourself. Every act of kindness you’ve done, you’ve done to yourself. Every happy and sad moment ever experienced by any human was, or will be, experienced by you.”

You thought for a long time.

“Why?” You asked me. “Why do all this?”

“Because someday, you will become like me. Because that’s what you are. You’re one of my kind. You’re my child.”

“Whoa,” you said, incredulous. “You mean I’m a god?”

“No. Not yet. You’re a fetus. You’re still growing. Once you’ve lived every human life throughout all time, you will have grown enough to be born.”

“So the whole universe,” you said, “it’s just…”

“An egg.” I answered. “Now it’s time for you to move on to your next life.”

And I sent you on your way.

No Map


Foggy morning in the park. Aug. 1, 2014
Into the Mist by Hemmingplay

by Stephen Dobyns

How close the clouds press this October first
and the rain-a gray scarf across the sky.
In separate hospitals my father and a dear friend
lie waiting for their respective operations,
hours on a table as surgeons crack their chests.
They were so brave when I talked to them last
as they spoke of the good times we would share
in the future. To neither did I say how much
I loved them, nor express the extent of my fear.
Their bodies are delicate glass boxes
at which the world begins to fling its stones.
Is this the day their long cry will be released?
How can I live in this place without them?
But today is also my son’s birthday.
He is eight and beginning his difficult march.
To him the sky is welcoming, the road straight.
Far from my house he will open his presents-
a book, a Swiss army knife, some music. Where
is his manual of instructions? Where is his map
showing the dark places and how to escape them?

“No Map” by Stephen Dobyns from Velocities. © Penguin, 1994.  (buy now)

I Don’t Want Much


 

The leap into the unknown

I don’t want much:

I want to be happy.
I want to live forever.
I want to face no consequences. Ever.
That’s not much, is it?

I want to never live through another hot, humid day. Or a cold one.
I want it to rain when I want,
And be sunny and mild the rest of the time.
I want to chase Spring around the planet, skip
August, January, February and half of March.

I want a 5-series Beamer. Midnight blue. Just for Tuesdays.
The other days I’d like a Ferrari to drive down to my yacht.
Where I’d make love until dinner.
And then after.

I want to be 35 again, knowing what I know now.
(Not my 20s again. God, no. Everyone’s an idiot in their 20s.
No offense intended. But it’s true.)

I want to stop realizing that each day might be my last.
That one’s new. That’s the one that’s true. That’s the one I hate.

The other things are lies I tell myself.

Finish What You Start



finish

I’m dealing with three things at once. I’m feeling a little guilty about it, too.

One is that we’re getting ready for a party tomorrow. Superficially, it’s to celebrate a wedding anniversary and a retirement (her’s, not mine yet, dammit) and an excuse to go to the wine store. But really, it’s just a big ol’ wet kiss to the fact that we’re both still alive. It always comes down to that for all of us in the end, you know.

But the advice to finish what you start applies to the writing work. I am working on the book. I haven’t been talking about it, because i found out that if I was talking, I wasn’t writing. But I haven’t done much yesterday and won’t today.

Yesterday was due to the third thing, which is the aftermath of that annoying little blood clot in a tiny part of my brain that is still making itself felt. Yesterday was a day it was making itself felt, and I wasn’t able to get out of the chair much. Today I feel great. It seems to go like that. So today is party prep, tomorrow is the party, and then “Running Girl” is going to feel my hands all over her again.

Hmmm. Come to think of it, maybe I shouldn’t wait.  🙂

 

 

Nosce te ipsum


0100photo

Nosce te ipsum: “Know Thyself”.

The family motto from the old country.
Emblazoned six or seven centuries past,
On a shield of green,
A plumed crest and sweeping boughs,
And three goats passant argent,,
Found in a dusty book.

It could just as easily mean:
Think for thyself.
Be true to thyself.
Know thy fears and subdue them.
Honor thyself, and others, too.
Do not be fooled by dishonest flattery.
Do not be fooled by criticisms
Or the judgement of others.
Know thyself, the delusions you nurture.
Think for thyself, mistrusting certainty.
Be a vessel for truth, however harsh,
For generations will remember.

This is the weight of the motto now.
Heavy enough, I should say.
It feels good to connect again,
To know my origins,
And what remains undone.
What remains undone…

The Air of Other Places


Pericles statue
Pericles of Athens

I want to know what Addis Abbaba smells like at dawn,
Down in old Africa
Where we all began.

I want to fall asleep again in the old part of Delhi,
To the sounds of temple bells and honking horns,
The chatter and laughter, the hum of millions;
To the aroma of spices and diesel fumes and cigarettes.
I want to feel the weight of 5,000 years,
Like a hulking mountain behind modern mounds,
Where the faces are dark and eyes bright,
Where the past and present are one.

I want to climb the Acropolis in Athens at dawn and
Stand amid Pericles’ crumbling marble. That’s
Where the West, the best ideas of the West, began.
Freedom. The beauty of the human form. Democracy.

I want to be where things began.
There are places I’ve never seen,
Strange places with strange people,
Who call, seductively, quietly,
“Sit with us and share our fire.
We are you, brother, and you are us.”

There is a time, at dawn, when the mists lift
Over a strange and beautiful mystery,
Where the air is pungent with undiscovered wonders,
Where, alone, it is possible to feel at one with it all.

©Hemmingplay 2014

Old is New Again


It’s gonna be a busy day at work as I’m back after a 5-day break. It was productive, though, as there are now many more words in the can on the book. I’m just tossing this at you for a place-holder. I don’t feel old, but that’s a relative thing. If you’re in your 20s – 40s I qualify, probably. You may think you’re old when you hit 30 or 40, but trust me, you’ve only just hit the half-way mark. My advice? Don’t dwell on it too much. You’ll just make yourself look somewhat daft and whiny. Yes, it’s a shock when you realize the opposite sex doesn’t see you the same way as before, and sometimes doesn’t see you AT ALL!!!! But you’ll get where I am, too, if you’re lucky. Suck the marrow out of life as you go and keep your eye on the horizon. You’ll be fine. 🙂

VII

by Wendell Berry

I know I am getting old and I say so,
but I don’t think of myself as an old man.
I think of myself as a young man
with unforeseen debilities. Time is neither
young nor old, but simply new, always
counting, the only apocalypse. And the clouds
—no mere measure or geometry, no cubism,
can account for clouds or, satisfactorily, for bodies.
There is no science for this, or art either.
Even the old body is new—who has known it
before?—and no sooner new than gone, to be
replaced by a body yet older and again new.
The clouds are rarely absent from our sky
over this humid valley, and there is a sycamore
that I watch as, growing on the riverbank,
it forecloses the horizon, like the years
of an old man. And you, who are as old
almost as I am, I love as I loved you
young, except that, old, I am astonished
at such a possibility, and am duly grateful.

“VII.” by Wendell Berry from Leavings. © Counterpoint, 2010.

The Law of Unintended Consequences


campbell quote
Joseph Campbell stole this idea!! (Kidding)

 

I wuz robbed. I coulda been a contender.

My festering resentment was brought to the surface again this morning when I saw this image on another blog. Maybe I ought to listen to it, huh? You decide.

Let me set you straight first. I came up with the term “The Law of Unintended Consequences” in the late ’70s—I vividly remember when, too. It was during an episode of “Rhoda”. Don’t ask me why or how.

It just hit me that in life, one can plan like a compulsive fiend, make lists, pursue absolutist goals like the Wehrmacht sweeping across Poland, but the odds are that something unexpected will trip you up. There are just too many variables in this world, and you can’t account for all of them. And odds are, one of them will send your life careening off in some unintended direction to the sound of your wails. “Noooooooooooooo”.

But as John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re making other plans.”

Like an idiot, I didn’t copyright LoUC and now it’s in the public domain and I have missed out on yet another fortune. Campbell and Lennon have ripped me off. LoUC drifted out into the great conversation and I haven’t made a dime off of it.

My family laughs at me every time I bring this up. They treat me like you treat someone who has any harmless delusion. I can feel them giving me virtual pat on the head. You might as well join in.

But I wuz robbed.  /Shrugs. Whaddya gonna do?