We were the crown princes, then,
with an occasional princess, though
that was more to maintain the peace.
Our kingdom was a square block,
and we dominion over all of our territory
save the two minefields, well-marked,
kept by the Strauss and Herlihy fiefdoms,
who refused to pay homage to us,
denied us our just due, and suffered
such consequences as we could muster
in the dark of a late October night.
We four, Larry, Buddy, Sheldon and I
roamed our kingdom, and one day,
drunk with power and Nehi, scaled
the border masquerading as a fence
and entered the neighboring kingdom,
cavorting until its army of one
chased us away with a shout, “It’s
a private school and you don’t
belong here,” before hobbling back
into the building he was far
too black to enter save in uniform.
We are old now, have long since
abdicated our thrones and struggle
only to retain our memories.
Looking out the window
of the Osaka bound train
at the great snow-covered mountain
I saw, for just a moment
my face on its slopes.
at the train hurtling
across the fields,
the great Fuji
to its stony stare.
As you walk through
this particular space
will you see a small
child perched on a stool,
crayons in hand, a small
rectangle of paper
on the top of the desk
a world you could
never hope to understand,
or an older woman, leaning
on her walker, staring
into the canvas, struggling
to see each brush stroke
and three workmen
white hard hats, retractable
rules and laser levels,
measuring the gallery
against the blueprint
which are artists —
which is art —
does it matter?
As you slowly approach it
it grows perceptibly larger.
This does not surprise you,
for you are familiar with
the principles of physics.
What does surprise you is
that the details grow
ever less clear as you approach,
as though they retreat
under your slow advance.
You think this strange,
wonder what has gone wrong,
question your eyes, and
finally realize that the details
you saw were not there
that it all was, quite simply, what
your mind wished your eyes to see.
First you should draw the scene
with as much detail as possible,
using the full palette of colors
and adding depth and dimension.
Next you should write the scene,
again with detail, color, depth,
for words are capable of all of this.
Now compare the scenes, are they
the same, and if not, how do they differ.
Now close your eyes and envision
the same scene again, noting
whatever you can, listening
to your mind’s description,
as you gaze through your mind’s eye.
Pause and consider that none of these
are real, each is an illusion
you have created, and then know
that you, too, like I,
am illusory as well.
He is certain that
the sky is always blue
and when it seems
cloudy it is just that
Magritte has risen
from his grave and
brush in hand,
painted the sky and clouds.
She scoffs at the idea
knowing full well
the clouds are merely
rice paper cutouts
floating on a gentle breeze.
The small child peers through
the bamboo poles of the bridge
as he stares down at a turtle
who stares up at him with equal fascination.
His mother excitedly says, “see the turtle?”
Of course he can see the turtle
but he also sees an Ichthyosaurus
and giant whales and frightening fish.
Later, as she points out an iguana,
he will see the small lizard and all
manner of dinosaurs roaming,
a pterodactyl swooping overhead
mimicking a crow, for pterodactyl
have the same magical power as coyotes.
Tonight he will dream of all these beasts
the amazing lands he visited
while in the living room his mother
will tell his father, “Jonathan saw turtle today,”
for parents can only see with two eyes.