Archive for July, 2007

July 17, 2007

"If”

I don’t want to leave the safety of the arrow and the preceding parameters. Not just for glass. That sort of illogic lost our tolerance about when the Arrow starting showing up. When our country of programmers and logicians and engineers looked for the face of God in their equations and esoteric languages. When they found the key to Truth: if-then. If =>.

You might miss the singular worship—the crucifix, the sacred heart, all that—but Jesus is still around. Find him near Vishnu, maybe blue-skinned himself; find him meditating with Buddha. And find them all near the golden arrow pointing Heavenwards. Jesus isn’t the thing to miss. I miss the chaos of stained glass windows.

            You’ll find stained glass around, but now all the fragments are regular polygons—squares, more often than not, or triangles. Everything in its place, everything as it should be. I can’t let my eyes wander around the random shapes and colors without resolving the big picture. Now I can only see pixilated golden arrows and the lesser gods who point to the arrow instead of wherever they used to point themselves. I’ve gone looking across the whole country looking for a relic from when nothing made sense. I had hoped to let my eyes wander. Could be there wasn’t any chaotic glass to find, or it could be I didn’t let myself find it. Because the truth is, the Truth is…

                        If (absolute belief) => (salvation)

If wasn’t out to destroy the stained glass, or any trappings of faith. It was supposed to bring sense to faith. But you know how it goes; the prophet became the god. The arrow turned to gold, and the chapels and temples once rejuvenated through If were left silent once again, as people turned to the god that always made sense. The new temples forswore all that had gone before, including steeples and sanctuaries…and the rich, insane patterns of colored Sunday morning light shining from windows with northeastern exposure.

So I miss the old stained glass, even as I adhere to a new great commandment.

If (absolute faith) => (salvation)

No one knows for sure what (salvation) feels like, but we know the parameter, the condition for attaining it, which is more than we ever knew before. (absolute faith)—a perfect circle of logic, and the only self-fulfilling prophecy which promises Truth. Absolute faith means belief in the Golden Arrow, the grand conditional. The grand conditional requires and guarantees absolute faith.

The old faiths of haphazard windows left so many questions unanswered. Do we hate gays? Do we tolerate? Is everyone saved? Can war be just? What good works bring grace? What sins are forgiven, and how? If all that glitters is not gold, what then is sacramental? The general conclusion I imagine nobody could admit to themselves was that anyone hearing answers was either lying or insane. And insanity was no price to pay for answered prayers. The matter’s been cleared up now.

If (pure reason)  => (pure Truth)

Also expressable as (reason) = (Truth)

            So here’s the Golden Arrow pointing to an attainable, rational Heaven. I feel safe under its glow, this yellow shroud of warm order. I know what to do when I get up in the morning; I know what I’ll see outside my bedroom window.

            You never knew how things would look through the old stained glass. Sometimes glorious, sometimes terrifying. The glory could make you shake and cry, but then so could the terror. The shadowy shapes never resolved until they came close enough to touch, and by then nobody could choose if they wanted to look or not. The windows betrayed us too many times. They were the price we paid for Heaven.

            I haven’t shaken; I haven’t cried in a long while. But a slight smile never leaves me. Life’s always generally pleasant, and I can live with that. There’s hope, anyway, under the Golden Arrow. Clear hope.

            If (absolute faith) => (salvation)

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July 16, 2007

"In the Snowdrifts”

In the snowdrifts, I would lie on my back and let the cold burn through to my chest. But I only shivered when I heard the whisper.

Secrets from the past.

And I screamed at the voice carried long on the winter gales. I pleaded for more—a direction, a name. My name.

The snow dunes roll out forever as the voice whispers forever; forever they are white and blinding. Before the red light, had I ever seen a color?

Secrets from the past.

The snow is very dense but I don’t know when it started falling. I have tried digging to find the earth I might remember. I clawed deep, down to where the snowlight couldn’t reach and the world was dark again. With bloody fingers, I had to tear another tunnel slanting up to the surface.

Wasn’t there darkness sometimes found without digging deep? When things slowed and different noises rose? There were two lights, I think—one greater, one lesser. Now I have only snowlight. When did the other lights leave?

Secrets from the past.

The whisper is the wind and the wind blows ever onward, so I followed it day after day.  What lines I traced disappeared moments behind me. The snow buries everything, and I must have walked around the world to chase a secret.

Secrets from the past.

I did not notice how looming this dune was before I was nearly upon it—from a distance they all look the same. Here it rose higher than any I had seen. The sky veiled the top from me, standing at the foot. So I climbed the face of the giant dune, making my own ladder of dents in the snow. I could not stop, I could not dare; the snow kept falling and the dune grew taller with every step I took.

Inside the clouds, the snow stopped falling. It floated across the air without weight, without urgency. I liked the snow for the first time. It wasn’t trying to bury me anymore. And the question came: what lies above the clouds? Will there be snowlight, or the forgotten lights long since buried?

There was darkness, and I remembered the dots of light were stars. They pierced the snowclouds in my mind, melting eras of forgotten identity. I remembered sun and moon, and trees, and stone. I remembered warmth and sleep. And people.

Secrets from the past.

A cave led into the heart of the mountain—I knew it now as a mountain. Boxes littered the floor, some torn apart and made into fuel for ancient fires, lit with a machine for sparking small fires. On a stone once used for sitting around the fire, I found a small round disc of metal. On top of the disc a small light blinked red. Red! I remembered color. I bathed in the red light, wrapped myself in its warmth. I held the light to my closed eyes to savor its glow as it passed my thin eyelids. When I hugged the disc to my chest, the light clicked and remained red without blinking. And it spoke.

Child, you never knew us, but we know you. We are not your parents, though you are our beloved. You are the Listener. No matter what name you have forgotten, this is your true name. Because if you are listening to this, you are the last one who can. And so, Listener is who you are.

Now, Listen.

Even we do not remember when the snows began, or why, or how. But they fell and fell and fell, until everything was buried. The sea, the land, cities, forests, mountains—they all rest beneath the snow. Ever since it began, people had been moving to keep away from it, or to keep warm, or to escape a living burial. And the last of us found this mountain, taller than the rest and still above the snow. We thought we were the last people. But in case we were wrong, we shouted into the wind. We cried, “Secrets from the past rest here—come and find them,” and the howling blizzard carried our echo off. And now, you have heard us. You came for secrets and answers. We have told you who you are, and what has happened. Listener, we pray you are not the last, but if you are, then remember us. We were here. We were here.

Now I cannot descend the mountain—the snow has risen to the level of the clouds. But it can come no further. And when the last flake falls, I will leave the cave. I will take the boxes and set fire to them atop the snow. I will loose a new cry to the winds as the world thaws. The earth will return and remember what it was, and whatever remains below the snowlight will know:

We were here. We were here.

Blogged with Flock

July 16, 2007

“Three Points in an Elegant Universe”

Tuwax lights a freezing fire in the ancient Tlingit ways of his forefathers off the Douglas Highway northwest of Juneau. Neighbors in Fairhaven call him “the last Eskimo.”
Tuwax has a son-he’s inside doing homework as his father cooks fish for supper. Their house stands on one leg. It would sit down and rest if houses could sit down and rest.

Igloos don’t fall apart like that, thinks Tuwax, cleaning fish and burning a freezing Tlingit fire.

The house stands far enough from the highway, from all lights, to see every star in the Yukon sky. Tuwax looks up as the gis’ óok-Northern lights-flare to unearthly color and glory.

Tuwax almost hears his wife singing…

“Boy, come with me,” rumbles Tuwax. He stands at the door of his son’s bedroom like the waiting Reaper, a still, silent phantom hewn of stone.

“Pa, my times tables, I-”

“You’re comin’. Onto the hit ká.”

“The what?”

“The roof. And turn out all the lights.” Tuwax’s voice thuds rather than echoes on the walls.

On the hit ká father and son bathe in celestial light.

“That’s the gis’ óok, boy. That’s ghost music.”

“Pa, I know about the lights from school,” the son whines. “The Aurora Borealis, result of cosmic radiation contacting–”

“Our people say it’s music. The dead sing in soft color from above,” says Tuwax.

“Pa…”

“Your mother’s in those lights. I can hear her singing tonight.”

The boy stops squirming and gazes a moment at the musical sky.

“Did…did she sing well?” he whispers.

“Just look, boy. That’s how she sang.”

Tuwax smiles as he stumbles upon this thought: it must be an elegant universe where ghosts paint pictures and songs in the sky so he can paint pictures and songs in the sky too.

Ernest clocks out of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory early today-he never stays late in migration season.

Friends and family see his rows of filing cabinets, meticulously washed and folded clothes, his refrigerator organized by caloric content; they see a man of order and science.

Were he a free man in a free country he would be a poet.

Today like all days in migration season Ernest drives twenty miles into the Mojave Desert, reaching Vulture’s Peak one hour before sunset.

For one hour Ernest watches migrating turkey vultures circle spikes of sandstone rising from the ground. He sketches the flight paths in a journal; he weaves the patterns into geometric chaos, artistic magnificence. Human eyes haven’t seen such figures-alien, freakish, perfectly natural. The mind accepts the shapes like a great redwood tree-symmetrical or not the form grew ‘round the roots and into a masterpiece. Everyone drops their jaw before a great redwood tree.

Sunset comes and Ernest prepares to drive home. He places the journal in a lockbox, places the lockbox in a bag, buries the bag in the sand near Vulture’s Peak.
Ernest starts his car and smiles as he stumbles upon this thought: it must be an elegant universe where chaos brings order yet remains absolute chaos.

He’s smiling as he reaches the highway, the border in his dance between order and chaos.

She is strong; she is a huntress. A predator. At dawn Jessica creeps through dew-laden wildgrass. Her rifle is poised, her eyes piercing. She breathes shallow-to remain silent, and to keep the thrill from overwhelming her.

For years she has convinced herself of this power she possesses, the power of a warrior. She was a lioness born a girl, and worse yet: a city-girl. Growing up, she stalked about in the parks, pouncing pigeons before they hopped away to some other breadcrumbs. She was fearsome. Today she runs for a few hours-away from family, work, the city-to test her prowess against the most untamed nature she can find. Not the outback but the out back. It will have to do.

Now Jessica comes upon her prey: a ring-necked pheasant searching through a flat space in the wildgrasses, waiting for the nightcrawlers to twitch. Jessica holds her breath and slowly, icily cocks the rifle’s action back. She aims, and the pheasant looks straight toward her-down the barrel, into her sense of self. Jessica sighs and uncocks the gun. The pheasant caws and turns back to worm-hunting. The huntress sits and watches the bird pecking its breakfast from the trodden grass. She bares her teeth, not fangs in a smile as she stumbles upon this thought: it must be an elegant universe where a bird can look past machinery, past a city girl’s rebellious heart, and teach compassion with a gaze.

And then,

A pen on paper dreams Saturday daydreams of Eskimos and scientists and city girl huntresses.

The pen smiles as it stumbles upon this thought: it must be an elegant universe where so many curves all curve at once.

The pen curves into its final sentence and ends the poem as it began-smiling at three points in an elegant universe.

July 16, 2007

“Complications of a Fish-Only Diet”

This is almost certainly the best piece I’ve written thus far, but there’s no way I’m going to post it all here. Also, the formatting is pretty necessary and you lose something of it in blog form.

Therefore, I humbly present this .doc file. Please enjoy.

“Complications of a Fish-Only Diet”

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