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

One Day, I Stepped Off The Edge of the World


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I’ve held this inside for more than 40 years. I think you’ll see why.

It was a hot summer Saturday afternoon. The humidity was heavy, and it was like breathing through wet gauze. The leaves of the oaks that shaded the grounds moved with a discouraged droop from air that provided no relief.

I have no witnesses to what happened, but it was something that to this day, more than 45 years later, I cannot explain. Or deny. I’ve tried both. Now it just has to be.

All I know is that I walked into that room alone, my mind on something completely different and ordinary and mundane. (I was checking supplies for the evening meeting.) I was walking through a typical Midwestern summer afternoon in Indiana one moment, and the next walked into another world.

Continue reading “One Day, I Stepped Off The Edge of the World”

Touching Glass in the Crowd


The Earth rises and roils the seas,
smashing warnings of
end times
against the land, afflicting
sticky-tacky
neighborhoods, with
houses all the same,
interrupting complacency.
But we misread the moment.
As usual. Like Pharaoh,
we are stiff-necked and proud,
and must lose our children
before we can be humbled.
The skies are not filled with clouds and rain
but signs and portents,
locusts and frogs,
crocodiles and snakes…a
growing rage of non-human things
too long abused.

Confused, soulless like
selfish children,
we cannot see what
does not please us,
and so wander alone,
merely touching magic
glass in a crowd.

Unending Love



by Rabindranath Tagore

I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times…
In life after life, in age after age, forever.
My spellbound heart has made and remade the necklace of songs,
That you take as a gift, wear round your neck in your many forms,
In life after life, in age after age, forever.

Whenever I hear old chronicles of love, it’s age old pain,
It’s ancient tale of being apart or together.
As I stare on and on into the past, in the end you emerge,
Clad in the light of a pole-star, piercing the darkness of time.
You become an image of what is remembered forever.

You and I have floated here on the stream that springs from the fount.
At the heart of time, love of one for another,
We have played along side millions of lovers,
Shared in the same shy sweetness of meeting,
the distressful tears of farewell,
Old love but in shapes that renew and renew forever.

Today it is heaped at your feet, it has found its end in you
The love of all man’s days both past and forever:
Universal joy, universal sorrow, universal life.
The memories of all loves merging with this one love of ours—
And the songs of every poet past and forever.

Song of the Hidden Moon


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Without fail, monthly, the full moon sheds
her inky cloak of night and stars
and slips a leg and then the rest into the lake,
her cool fire subtracted from the sky.
She leaves the nights more lonely, barren.

But her life is not extinguished,
merely hidden, recovering, re-energizing.
She must withdraw from sight,
make herself desirable, let her belly be lush and fertile again
so she may breath passions onto the world, be
drunk with the reckless, raucous, ribald dance of life. Continue reading “Song of the Hidden Moon”

Darkness and Light


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What is “Dark Matter?”
No one’s ever been able to catch any
in a quart canning jar, as we did as kids
in the summer nights with lightening bugs.

As nearly as my math-less writer’s brain can tell,
it is the power of something unseen, deduced only
by observed gravitational effects on stars, on galaxies.

Something very big, but still a guess, in other words.
Subject to experimentation. Grants. Scholarly papers.

Astrophysicists say this is important, which may be true;
I also suspect sometimes they’ve been smoking weed up
there on the high, cold mountain outside the
telescope house, huddled around campfires,
telling math jokes and giggling, high as fuck.

Continue reading “Darkness and Light”

After IKKYU: Number 30


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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

A Ghostling, in Training


Republished for Halloween. 

Ghost

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, 
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy….

I didn’t think it would be like this.
I could have been convinced, mind you,
But I was skeptical, in a benign way.
Unmoved except by facts, I said.
“Show me a ghost; I can’t take your word for it.
Continue reading “A Ghostling, in Training”

Something Primal


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Dusk in August under a crescent moon.

People in the neighborhood walk their dogs,

Hurrying, because they have work tomorrow.

But the air has that special kind of softness that

Makes people stir inside, think alarming thoughts.

Her house in the woods is empty tonight.
No kids, no neighbors, no husband, no plans.

So, after the dishes are put away, and a few emails read,
She looks out and sees the moon over the dark woods.

She steps out of her clothes and onto the deck,
Opens her arms and lets the pale light electrify her skin,

Feels a movement in her womb, just as in ancient times,
And she makes of herself an offering, in freedom—

An exhausted suburban wife with laundry to do—
To something primal that she had thought was dead.

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 Rules of Chaos


Daily Prompt: Chaos
Earth

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Potential murderer of empires and hope and vacation plans

There’s a difference between chaos and apparent chaos. I hope you’re sitting down.

It largely depends on whether you  see it as just all that red ink in your credit card statement (did I really charge the Giganto Burger weekly special at Five Guys AND a year on my fitness membership?), or the fact that you have a teenager (which really IS soul-sapping chaos, but a different kind.)

I understand. If the wolf is chewing on your leg, you kind of have to take care of that first.

But I’ve tried to remember: the big picture is that there is also “apparent” chaos, and that kind obeys underlying rules. It’s just that I can’t really do much about things I can neither predict nor control. So all I can do is try not to do stupid things too much, and then learn how to roll with the punches.

Of course, it could also be that one anonymous, heartless (but beautiful)  bastard/bitch  butterfly in Honduras flapping his/her wings, setting in motion a chain of events that ends with the utter destruction by a level 16 hurricane of my beloved French Quarter. That would make me sad.

“The example of such a small system as a butterfly being responsible for creating such a large and distant system as a tornado in Texas illustrates the impossibility of making predictions for complex systems; despite the fact that these are determined by underlying conditions, precisely what those conditions are can never be sufficiently articulated to allow long-range predictions.

Although chaos is often thought to refer to randomness and lack of order, it is more accurate to think of it as an apparent randomness that results from complex systems and interactions among systems. According to James Gleick, author of Chaos : Making a New Science , chaos theory is “a revolution not of technology, like the laser revolution or the computer revolution, but a revolution of ideas.”

Now, about that wolf. Here’s a gun. Shoot the son of a bitch.

 

Hunger


wolf

How cruel these nights, his belly knows,
Through rocky valleys gorged with snows;
His watchful eyes like shards of ice,
The lonely hunter’s hunger grows.

On solitary trails of white,
In empty days and bleakest night,
Ten million nights have come to this,
Death strikes true, or life takes flight.

A feathered hunter watches near
Taunts “Who is that who founders here?
“Who is it damned to roam the rocks,
“While I soar free and without fear?

Red in tooth, sharp in claw,
Ruthless Nature tests us all.
Eat or die, win or lose,
Five billion years, that’s been the law.

 Yet we believe, against mere fact,
Our charms will make the fates retract
What may just be our final act.
What may just be our final act

©Hemmingplay 2015

This was a practice piece, mimicking, again, the meter and patterns of Frost’s “Stopping By a Woods…” 

Out there, in here


MilkyWay_Java_justin Ng
The Awesomeness We Seldom See

 

The sun does not move, we wrongly think.
Our eyes just show us what we wish.

We know the Earth rolls around it, though,
Tilted this way and that;
The days and months, the seasons, we’ve been taught,
Are the proofs of something we are too limited to see.

We feel the invisible attraction of rock and dirt
From the instant of conception.
Sperm and egg swim and dance in the grip of gravity.
We never know anything else.

Yet we please ourselves to believe that
Our world is one solid thing, unchangeable,
When in truth, we’re bound with atomic chains
to a whirling ball of temporary matter, itself
Caught in the invisible embrace of vast, eternal destruction,
Pulling, pulling, pulling against the death song of
A black hole  of cosmic suck, built to twist time itself
at unimaginable distances, but all-powerful.
And most of what we’ve thought for 10,000 years or more
Is no better than a child’s bedtime story.

Lord, what fools we mortals be.

As the Earth rolls around—half a face always bathed in the the furnace of judgement—
The dark half peers into the infinite emptiness, out where
A trillion-trillion-trillion billion stars burn, out where light grows old and dies, alone, cold.
Mindless nuclear furnaces rage in silence, balls of fusion blaze in emptiness,
Racing around ultimate darkness,
Multicolored alien majesties spread across time, on scales beyond imagining.

But we cannot see, and think this dirt beneath our feet is all permanent.
The vasty deep is, to us,
Just twinkles and glints through the haze,
More than all the grains of sand in the world, a million worlds,

Other Earths
Go rolling about their own furnaces, racing through darkness and light and ultimate cold,
Torn between capture and escape.
And among them, trillions of beings live and die, each thinking
It is the center of everything, fixed in place on
something that does not move.

Our Sun pours radiation alike on the just and the unjust, the worthy and the unworthy,
Without a care for which it nurtures and which it burns.
We, who arrived as the last link of cosmic unpredictability and take our
Turn squinting at the light that just now comes above the edge
Of our rolling world, must wonder:
What does this day require of me?