I have no reason to venture to Tahiti
for Gaugin took me there years ago,
and again on a visit to Chicago and one
to New York, or was it Cleveland, it hardly
matters, for I know that the Tahiti of my
experience no longer exists, touristed
to death, itself at constant risk of drowning.
I did have reason to go to Arles, and there
searched far and wide for the sky
that Vincent promised, or the flowers,
but the few stars visible through
the lights and pollution of the city were
pale imitations of the brilliant lights I know
were there aj century ago.
Now I sit in my yard and watch
the comings and goings of
a thousand birds who deserve
to be painted and not captured merely
in pixels, for memory, human and
electronic, fades with time, while
art if not artists can be immortal.
He says “the shortest distance
between any two points is a straight line.”
She says, “you will miss seeing
of the amazing sights if you
follow that inane rule, and by the way
Einstein made it quite clear
space is curved, and the line
you think straight is not at all,
so why not follow a more varied curve
and see what there is to see
along the way. It might surprise you.”
He says, “I have to follow the road
and the interstates are the most direct routes.”
She says, “there are an infinite number
ways to get from point A to B.”
She wants to try several of them
and if he doesn’t like it, well
there is always the back seat.
He is worried, he says
that we will be leaving on a full moon.
I remind him that he leaves
in two weeks, that this morning’s
half-moon will be gone then
replaced by its now absent other half.
He says it should be full if it’s half now
and half a month passes.
His statements seem logical enough
But the moon and stars have their own logic
and don’t care what we think,
that’s why I say, Luna never turns
her back on us so she’s always half unseen,
and she and the stars are willing to remind us
they were all gods and goddesses once
and could go back to that with very little warning.
Three hundred fifty
the giant green
Harriet’s Bluff Road
and you cannot
help but wonder
Harriet’s true road
is holding back
from telling you.
It was tacky then, it’s epitome
and six decades and unknown views later
it hasn’t changed at all.
You don’t expect tackiness
to accrete, yet like a black hole
this is irrefutable evidence it has.
To say it is garish to insult
the term, since it is so much more,
beyond anything the term can describe.
It has grown uglier, something not
thought possible, yet here it is.
You cannot fathom why Mexico,
which truly lies just south of the border,
has not filed a diplomatic protest
over this quintessential insult.
In Jalisco state, you imagine
A thousand Pedro’s would cringe
if they knew what had been wrought
in their name, and the South Carolina
state police, you think, they just up the road
knowing the wiser travelers will step
on the gas in a vain attempt to escape.
He always wanted to take
the scenic route home, it
didn’t matter if it took longer,
he probably preferred that
and he rarely commented on the scenery.
It was more that he didn’t want
to get where they were going
and the scenic route was guaranteed
to take longer and with luck
they’d get lost once or twice along the way.
He’d be fine when he got there,
it was about the arriving, and the leaving
both of which were abrupt, and abruption
carried with it the fear he would
never again find the peace of place.
A fool may say
I have been many places
in search of true Zen
and have found it here
and there, go look.
The feet of the fool
have been all
of those places
but have the wisdom
to stay silent.
A Reflection on case 21 of the Iron Flute Koans