We live in a zoom world, one we never imagined, and one for which we will never be prepared. But it is our life now, friends and family reduced to pixels, voices disembodied. They tell us this is the new normal, although what is normal about it is beyond logic and comprehension. We believe deeply that we are interconnected, curse when that connection is dropped by our technology. We cannot survive without our electrons and pixels, for that is where people exist. Every man is an island now, isolation is a perpetual state. And, hey, we should get together soon. I’ll send a meeting number and password.
You ask me if I remember
when we first kissed, and then add
and what was it really like for me.
I know the answer you expect,
and I am reluctant to tell you
otherwise, but I have to be honest.
It was moments after I left you
at your door on our first date,
having found my car finally
in the parking garage near
the coffee house downtown.
I had just gotten in the car
to drive to my apartment
in the distant suburbs, and
turning on the ignition, I
kissed you passionately
on the lips, all eyes closed.
And, it was wonderful, though
the kiss we shared in reality
later that month put it to shame.
when did youthful dreams
get consumed by
or simply abandoned
theirs a poor substitute
love once (a) given
rendered faint hope
worse, impossible dream
delusion? you want
to think not
want so much
bad for you
we know good
when we give it
none for you
Coming soon perhaps
but hard to say
a moment when
merge and you
cease to exist
or exist twice
real is left
but that you
be ashes and
give a damn.
When you look in the mirror
are you real, is your reflection real?
Be careful what you say,
for if I look into that mirror
and see you, is the you I see
anything other than real?
When you go through the gate
you say “I am exiting”.
When I follow you through the gate
I say “I am entering”.
Are we both liars?
A Reflection on case 58 of the Shobogenzo (True Dharma Eye)
how did it feel
when, in the pit,
the lion sidled over.
You saw his paw
and no doubt
remembered the thorn
you had extracted.
Did you rub his mane
as his jaws snapped
around your thigh
his teeth tearing
into your flesh.
As you saw
the blood spill out
did you curse
for his detachment
First appeared in Erothanatos, Vol. 3, No. 3, July 2019
It always seems odd how the dual veils that separate day from night, wakefulness from sleep, seem impenetrable in the moment. Yet they both fade, now pellucid, permeable with the simple passage of time. Now dreams are a reality, such as that purports to be, and the worlds intermix, one ceding it to the other, the other flowing back. It is in that moment It is then you realize both are real, both dream states and you exist only because you imagine it so.
She says if you could only
peel back the photograph, you could
read the entire story that lies beneath.
It is deeper than the image below which
it lies trapped, and wider, imbued with a meaning
the image could not capture, just as,
she says frowning, there are no words
for parts of the picture, a symbiosis
that we of unitary senses cannot unite.
This one, pointing to a crucifix, shows him
where he ought to be, the pain, his pain
apparent, but so much deeper than
any image or sculptor’s hand can fashion.
Undeserved pain, not by sacrileges, by rebellion
but he would understand it, he would
revel in it, for he was the greatest rebel
and he would easily peel back the picture
in step wholly into the story beneath.
It looks perfectly normal, the kind
of restaurant you would seek out
on a Friday night in a distant city.
The people look like those you know
or could know, those from home for instance.
She is not remarkable, blonde, older,
a slightly twisted smile, blue eyes,
but on meeting there is a sudden distance
as though this is not a normal world,
certainly not the world where
you first met a cousin, and you have
a nagging feeling, which grows during the meal
that one of you is an alien, an avatar
from some other world, parallel perhaps,
and this reality is anything but, although
the pennette is quite remarkable.
Would you meet your first true relative at age 62
you know that while blood may be thicker than water,
it also congeals just as easily.
Reality is clearly something to be avoided
to be dressed up in tattery, tied in ribbons,
perfumed, yet its fetid stench
is always lurking in the background
waiting to pierce your nostrils
in an incautious moment until you retch
and bring up the bile that marks
the darker moments of your life,
the kind that lingers in the throat
which no chocolate can erase.
Reality is often ugly, so we ignore it
or hide it behind masks, or offer it
willingly to others, a gift in surfeit.
It sneaks up on you, and sets its hook
periodically, and thrash as you will
the barb only tears through new flesh,
setting itself deeper, intractable.
You and I are dying, as I write,
as you read, an ugly thought
particularly lying in bed
staring into darkness,
no motion or sound from your spouse,
mate, paramour, friend, significant other
or teddy bear, where God
is too busy to respond at the moment
and sleep is perched in the bleachers,
held back by the usher for want
of a ticket stub, content to watch
the game from afar.
I cast ink to paper, an offer of reality
as though the divorce from the words will erase
the little pains and anguishes of our
ever distancing marriage, while
holding vainly onto the warm and sweet,
the far side of the Mobius of reality
(the skunk is at once ugly and soft and caring).
We write of pain, of ugliness, of anger
at terrible lengths, or weave tapestries
of words to cover the flawed, stained walls
of our minds, like so many happy endings,
requisite in the script. Basho
knew only too well that truth of beauty
should be captured in few syllables.