COSMOLOGY

Our purpose is to understand
and then explain
the order of the Universe:
the logic of the neat array of stars
from our centrally located
observation deck, the galaxies
as so many fractals seeking
to hide their organization.
We have no ability to control
and lack the mechanisms
to make all but the most minute
adjustments and then as if
to energize a stray electron
into a higher energy state.
We would like to foretell
but we have no essential premise
on which to erect our framework
just a cornerstone unwilling
to settle in place or time.
We can only recount
what we have learned
cautious that we miss
only events of lesser importance
even if they are prehistory
long before they occur.
Before the beginning
was the beginning.


Published in the May 2004 issue of Vent

4/4 TIME

Musicians have a clock
that runs on its own time
and all that is constant
is the beat, in four
second increments.
They start, they say,
when the music
is ready, never before
and music is fickle:
tonight it wanted to sit
off stage and rest
an hour, another night
it begins precisely
as advertised
and it ends, always
and invariably,
after the last note
plays itself.

COUPLING

 

He asks when
as if it were all
a matter of timing
as if the immediacy
or lack of it
somehow really mattered.

She would never ask that
but would want
to know who.
She’s far too polite
to ever ask why
preferring to see the scene
in the mind’s eye
allowing a thin
veil of mystery.

Each wants to know
how the other found out
though neither has
the slightest idea
where this all began.

KEMBO’S ONE ROAD 鐵笛倒吹 八十四

As you walk along a road
do you know where it begins
or where it will end
and what lies along it.

Perhaps the road
is a twisted loop
with neither beginning
or ending,
but if asked
where you are
on the road
you are always
here.


A reflection on Case 84 of The Iron Flute (Tetteki tōsui)

DEFIANCE

The stone defies the flame,
drawing it in
unyielding,
until it is licked
by the snow of winter

The page defies the words,
denying them purchase,
they are flat
without eyes
to see them
the repose
unbroken

The barren earth
defies the king
who orders it fertile
as sand swirls
engulfing
the palace
tearing at its face
casting it
adrift

The beginning
defies surcease
for it is new
in this moment
and in the next
and so on
and on
a wave
on a borderless
sea

ERGO SUM

She says she was certain she exists
much as she is certain he exists as well.
He says she thinks she exists, and
thinks he does as well. Descartes, he says
was right, at least on that point.
She says no, it is obvious, thoughts
requires existence, sum ergo cogito,
she says, is how it must be
for thought requires a thinker.
He says a thinker requires a thought first,
for without that there is no thinker.
She says an egg doesn’t mean
a chicken will always emerge, but
the chicken will, if all goes well,
always yield an egg.
He says she puts the cart
before the horse, she replies that he
is an ass, hers is a donkey cart,
and she dangles a carrot
from a stick in front of him
as they move slowly down the road.