Monday, December 31, 2007

"It'a almost here! It could start

at any minute!", he exclaimed, his voice quivering

with conviction ,

his body trembling in terror and

rapturous joy.

"You will see

the Whore and the Beast and the Seals and the Horsemen and the battle and the death and the fiery lake and the legions of the dead and the terrible judge and the vengeance and the horror and the cup of wrath and the Lamb and the starry headed woman and the victory and the eternal damnation

and you don't have much time left!! You have to get ready now now now now now now now!!"

I looked up from my book

and yawned.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

She stood up

in the kaleidoscope of color and shape

as alarming sounds pulled her anxiously,

now toward the forest, now toward the field.

An impatient stomach forced her eyes downward.


the noise to her right was a bird call,

and a hyena cringed upon hearing a terrible

death threat,

and the world spoke to her.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

It will come

not in some abstract way,

at a misty time,

in a hidden place.

It will arrive on a Tuesday or Friday

in June or November

at 9:21 a.m. or 1:32 p.m. or 7:15 (either one)

in a year with a real number on it

in a place that exists right now.

And I realized when Here Comes the Sun

became part of the Ganges,

that it would not make an exception

for me.

Friday, December 28, 2007

"Yes, of course I want

it to end",

he said.

"We have had enough of eyeless children hiding in


of young wives turned to abstract art,

of mud-colored ratboys digging eagerly through

rotting discard,

of lifetimes of work reduced to exquisite falling ash,

of shredded limbs falling away

from disbelieving witnesses,

of shrieking, electric nightmare worlds of suffering,

and hopeless prayers for death.

All that has to happen

is for everyone to embrace our gods,

and give our people the first fruits,

and submit their trembling women to us,

and open their vaults,

and lie face down,

and eradicate all


of that which is not us.

Once that has been done,

I will extend my love and compassion to all,

and healing hands can be laid upon the world.

The choice is all up to them."

He then turned his contented eyes toward

the iron-grey horizon.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

It came to be

because it could do nothing else

and from its unspeakable cauldron there emerged

all that was

and all that acted on it.

It created direction

and dimensions

and filled all of them

like Amen-Re saying,

"When I came into being, being itself came into being."

Its offspring obeyed all the rules

and brought about the founding



I fall silent

in contemplation of it.

The study of human history is

largely, but not exclusively, the story of the rise, propagation of, and reaction to ideas of various kinds. A nation is a set of people who share some sort of common idea. A culture is a set of ideas that is passed from person to person. Personal identity is largely based on the ideas a person believes about himself or herself. Roles, which are the essential feature of human social interaction, are ideas assimilated by those who see themselves in them. All of our institutions--our ways of doing large things, that is--are based on ideas about our position in them or relative to them and our understanding, participation in, acceptance, or rejection of the methods used to achieve the institution's purposes.

Ideation is a by-product of consciousness, which in turn can be seen as an epiphenomenon of the brain's evolution. (Perhaps consciousness became self-reinforcing, genetically, after its utility for survival manifested itself.) Therefore, the roots of our society and culture are ultimately biological.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

He fell


through the overcast sky,

his uniform shredded

where the ravening metal had

violated him.

He crashed as deadweight into the sea

and the first ripple flayed the skin off the gentle hearted woman,

crow barred the man's skull into bloody splinters,

and filled the boy with agonized hatred that burned him mercilessly

for seven decades.

The second ripple jackhammered concussions into the foreheads of

all those who had lifted

a glass with him and shared raucous laughter,

and leering jokes about good lays,

on smoke-filled

Saturday nights.

The third ripple gave the back of its hand

across the face

of his entire office, silencing it and

putting some years on a few of the unarmored ones.

The fourth ripple spat in the eye of all who had greeted him on rainy

mornings and who had chatted amiably about


They simply nodded sadly and tipped their hats or said a

quiet prayer, secretly glad that it had been him

and not the one who was hanging by a thread

above their own heads.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

It would be easier for me to stand in

the paralyzing brightness of the center of

the Sun as its multibillion-fold hydrogen bombs

tear down the walls of violence itself,

or to walk at the bottom of the

Marianas Trench and gawk at its

bioluminescent denizens as they undulate in

blind, prehistoric rhythms,

or to fly stark naked

under my own power

to the dark side of the moon

and laugh in the indifferent void,

than it would be for me


forgive anyone

and finally let go

of the one possession

I cling to

like a dead man whose hands

are frozen around his own


Monday, December 24, 2007

I get disgusted with it sometimes

because it's so tiresomely sentimental,

and day-dreamingly maudlin,

so childishly


and not useful at all, but

it keeps embedding itself more firmly

every year,

this ludicrous notion

that if all those brought into this world


and yesterday

and 3,000 yesterdays ago

could only know what it's like to go to bed

and not be afraid

or wracked with tears,

and to know the gentle touch

of a love that surpasses all


every day

from those who have never forgotten what it was like

to be one of them,

then I could finally go to bed

and not be afraid or be in despair



So why do I sense that when I am in the last half-perceived


of my consciousness

that it will still be calling out to me

and it will still be right?

[Revised 12/28/07]

Sunday, December 23, 2007

It was some years after

the second great round of killing

had ended

and Bob was no longer needed to help make

the instruments of death.

They were gathered for a picture in the

gray walled living room

of the small house.

They were celebrating the first birthday

of the shy one year old hiding in Daddy's arms

and they all beamed,

all of them gathered in innocence

for just about the last


Forty-five years later,

as the Birthday Boy was cleaning out the old house

in that final week of Grace Mary's life,

their ghosts were still standing there.

It was all he could do

to not stare at them

and be drowned.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

I don't consider you to be holy

or better than me in any way

because you have chosen to never strip down

and mount another consenting adult in

Dionysian joy.

You think that the spirit behind that special look

that comes across a human's face

just before the coming together of sensitive, excited skin,

is obscene and vulgar,

and that the act of being united together

in the embrace of Eros

is "coarse" and "low" and "disgusting" and you ask,

"Why did He choose such a degrading method to create new lives?"

You want others to be as ashamed, as crippled, and as apologetic about their own

sacred animal natures

as you are.

You deny that you hate it, and you even,


counsel them about it,

but you demand that they never indulge themselves

except to make more humble followers for you to scar

with your ignorance and fear and superstition, and that they do it


with the lights out,


without joy or pleasure, and feeling

slightly unclean afterward.

Choose to do what you will for yourself,

cut yourself off from that fevered, intimate world, because it is your right,

but understand that I look on you with the same pity

that I usually reserve

for anorexics

and that I look on all your talk about

self-denial and discipline and rising above and ascending to a higher plane

with a contempt that would render you


if you ever felt it the way

I do.

Friday, December 21, 2007

They wait in the old

shoe box,

the one labeled in my mother's clear printing,

to be hauled out every year

and displayed on whatever space

is unimportant enough to hold them.

They are the remnants of forgotten trips

to the dime store,

cheap little figures of cloth, plastic, and pipe cleaners,

the season they celebrated meaning nothing

to the tired women

who painted them

in some small Osaka factory.

They speak of a time,

centuries ago,

when that poignant morning meant so much to me,

and so much had yet to be learned.

After I die,

they will be thrown away.

But not before.

We are on a different planet now,

uncounted light years away from the annihilating exhaustion

of Cold Grey Flatland and the annual

forced migration indoors to face

the Season of Darkness

and the regime of dreary incarceration

amidst the sleeping, barren trees.

We know honest sweat,

and Gauguin skies,

and the joyous feel of dirt in our hands


And as we turn our faces toward a brazen sun

and land that has never known anything except inexorable


we realize that if our long-ago births

gave us nothing more than the chance

to plant flowers

in this gently smiling place

on the first day of "winter",

then we are thankful for them

for that alone.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

They evanesce out of the

darkened screen

and swirl or float in ever changing shapes,

like moving sketches,

their edges ill-defined,

their players transparent and lost in grainy,

dimly perceived light,

snatches of music or dialogue sifting through them.

Jarred loose

or spontaneously brought to life

by the smell of new crayons

or the sound of a distant love song

or a sudden, unbidden glance

or reasons more obscure

than the remotest depths of spacetime,

they insinuate themselves like ashen street people,

or gate crash with vulgar, callous disregard,

and then fade to black,

mere will-o'-the-wisps

that smash in the solar plexus,

resurrect the dead,

stir the embers of ancient passions

played out in fumbling ecstasy,

reduce proud arrogance to

tearful regret,

or show mysteries in the true light of understanding

for the first time.

How startling and fearful

are the days

they have unleashed.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Wouldn't it be something


after the last word is done resonating in the dying air,

and every garish nightmare has been known,

and every gentle act of love has had its absurd triumph,

and every great, terrible, noble, obscene, and mundane task

has been brought to a shuddering finish,

and the red giant is devouring the last of us,

it had all been brought about

because chains of A's and G's and C's and T's

were lousy at making copies of themselves

and searched mindlessly,



for any way possible

to keep doing it?

It really would be too damned


He told me that the first time

he killed another man

in that humid, verdant hell,

he had his M-16 on full automatic

and when his enemy surprised him

reflex and recoil took over

and he cut the black pajamed man in half


and one part fell forward,

and the other fell backward.

And when I heard this, at age 18,

as in a Zen story,

I was enlightened.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

If only they could know

what it's like to be one of us

(or most of us)

(or what I suspect most of us are like)

(or at least were in the furnace of our youth).

If they could know

the extraordinary power of the Reptile

in us

and how easily the sight of unanticipated legs

or breasts displayed in subtle provocation

or naked arms against the shortest sleeves

or even the barest hint of invitation

can bring it savagely to the fore

and make Dog brain and Ape brain

take a back seat for a while.

If only they knew what it was like

to feel the muscles swelling

and to know the primal delight of sheer, dirty, x-rated, hard-edged, blood pulsing


then maybe they would understand why we are so often

so helplessly amusing

and so repellent

and so bizarre

and so often willing to sacrifice unspeakably huge things

to give the Reptile his way and to

shut him up for awhile

until the next smiling face

drags us down into his wordless realm.

Monday, December 17, 2007

If I am ever told

that at first the dates and numbers and conversations

and car key locations will begin

to erode

and then my own home will become alien and terrifying

and then, ultimately, I won't recognize any of them,

not even her,

I hope I will have the courage

while I still have enough clarity

while I still have the strength

and while I can still know the reason that I'm crying,

to leave

before she is trapped into caring for me

as I recede back into uncomprehending infancy.

I will leave

on my own terms.

I will not crawl across the finish line

because I choose dignity

above all

and my last act of love

will be to liberate her from


while there is still life enough in her

to tend to the garden.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The dilemma, as I see it

is that humans, possessing a consciousness that only permits them to understand their own situation partially, are forced to act on incomplete information, whether they realize it or not. There are so many variables acting on any one of these situations, so many chains of consequence intersecting each other at each moment, so many synergies at work, and so many unanticipated outcomes being set into motion by them, that no human or even set of humans can predict the ultimate effect of any given action. Obviously, very simple actions (such as the act of picking up a pencil off the floor) are less consequential and less affected by variables, but the more our actions involve other people and the physical world around us, the more unpredictable their outcomes will be. Huge events, such as wars, generate incomprehensibly huge and complex consequences, ones far beyond our collective ability to understand.

Therefore, I believe that humans are pretty good at creating realities too complicated for humans to comprehend. I further contend that the innumerable and multivaried interactions of humans (as an entire species) with each other and with the rest of the physical reality around them, over space and time, have created problems that may be too complicated for humans to extricate themselves from. (I emphasize the word may--I am not wholly devoid of hope.)

So as I see it, human social reality at any given moment is the sum total of all the consequences of all the incompletely understood actions of all the humans who have ever acted, and this reality has been shaped in many ways by laws of probability and quantum randomness that are as yet only partially grasped.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

"I believe because it is

absurd", he said with what I imagine to be a voice

filled with granite

and founded on the fiery core of the earth itself and yet


with just the beginning of tears rising to

his eyes, the depth of his own assurance

making him solid and yet dissolving him

at the same time.

I look at his fervent affirmation and I feel

just the beginning of my own welling up

(but never more than that)

and then I'm afraid of him again.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The fundamental fact of human history

(and prehistory, for that matter) as I see it is that some of the species within the primate order began to evolve consciousness, and in the hominids this proved so biologically useful as a survival mechanism that its development accelerated almost exponentially. Humans, therefore, had this amazing possession that they didn't realize they had. (And in truth, how could they have?) They didn't realize for countless millennia that what they automatically considered to be reality was actually a version of reality, that the information pouring into their senses was being filtered and organized by the most complex organic phenomenon in the known universe, our brains. Only now are we beginning to grasp something of the almost frightening complexity of human consciousness. We even have difficulty defining the term, much less understanding more than a fraction of its ramifications.

Our consciousness's complexity and intricacy are the sources of much our ideology, major components of our psychology, our faiths (perhaps), and much (though not all) of our behavior. Since humans do not fully grasp their own minds, they are less in control of events than they believe they are. I contend that people do not completely understand their own motives. I further contend that this poorly understood and inadequately controlled mental reality accounts for the bizarre, tortuous way in which human society has developed. The unbelievable complexity of the human world and the daunting problems we face are exactly what we might have expected from a species that is more at the mercy of randomness than it would like to admit, a species that is inherently incapable of grasping the wholeness of its own reality, and a species driven by internal thoughts and instincts that it cannot fully understand.

Therefore, I see history as the story of how the genus Homo has grappled with the reality of consciousness. We have tended (in general) to assume that we know what we're doing and where we're going.

We don't.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The first one who approached me

said that the one who watched over his tribe

had brought about the entire reality

and was playing out a huge cosmic drama

with the tribe

that would all be revealed

ultimately and that I should understand that Oswiecim

can be explained.

The second one who approached me said that the Ultimate

took many forms but was all really One

and that we were born over and over until we were


and that the ones who were condemned to spending their lives

cleaning the toilets

deserved to be.

The third one told me that I could be enlightened

if I wanted to be

and that there was no Sky Being per se

and that I could reach a place

that he could not describe

but was confident existed.

The fourth one told me about the divineman

who was sent to make a

hideous sacrifice because

the first two who had lived

had disobeyed

and after divineman had submitted to agony and succumbed

he had come alive again

which meant that I didn't have to die if I didn't

want to

and that divineman would be right back

and would be here soon

and it didn't matter that it was now

20 centuries later and his followers were still

holding the door open.

The fifth one told me that the last messenger

had been the amanuensis

for the Terrible Judge

and that the messenger had ridden to the Other Realm

on a beautiful horse and that I had to submit myself

to the only true book or be

alternately boiled and frozen


And I glanced at Olympus

and looked for Osiris

and contemplated Ahuramazda

and pondered the Mesopotamians sitting in their dark houses

wearing their wings


walked away

with a face that betrayed no emotion

as I looked for signs

in the distance.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

You should see her

smile, the one that melts a grown man into helpless acquiescence,

framed by the baby nose that Grandpa is trying to teach her to find

and eyes more darling than those of a kitten

gently touching the cheek of a sleeping human.

And if only you could know how her flower petal ear feels

and touch the skin beside which silk would be like sandpaper,

and see her playing with the ball that's almost as big as she is, and her

delight in being the first person

in the history of the world

to hear a dove breaking the morning silence

or being the first person to ever see

a red tropical flower scalding the air, or if you could hold her uncertain hand

as we make the epic, Alexandrine journey

up to the very top of the driveway to see the neighbors' frantically welcoming dogs,

then you would understand why I want to put her in a huge velvet-lined box

with the interior painted in sunshine and occupied only by her teddy bears, her fenced in

friends, the nice neighbors, the seven of us, and friends that I trust.

And you would see why on the outside of the box I would place

Roman spikes

and razor wire

and hair-triggered machine guns

and flamethrowers ready to bellow out Inferno

so that Tamerlane himself

would cringe with fear.

What are you hiding in there,

what secret pleasures

or hatreds

or terrors

are you indulging in from the time you turn out the light

to the time that the dark waves imperceptibly wash over you?

Who is ravishing you

or being smashed into oblivion

or hurting the ones you love the most?

Are they images

that you would never

could never

will never

speak of with anyone

even unto death,

the innermost sanctum of your temple,

the Holy of Holies?

Are they reflections of your true self

or do you even know that any more?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I Don't Want Him to Be

a white statue or a martyr writhing on his t-shaped deathbed or some effeminate looking European with light brown long hair and fair skin, and most of all I don't want him to be a





Because if he really was one of us

if he really was a man

then there were nights that he couldn't get to sleep

because he was thinking of her

and he wanted her

and he burned for her

and there was the time

(or times?)

when the two of them held each other

in fierce embrace

and came to know every contour

of each other

and slumped in golden exhaustion afterward.

Because that's part of what a man is

and I want him to be a man

so he can really be someone

I can finally understand.

[Note: revised from the original. I changed the last line.]

Language is Only Approximately Understood

which means that neither of us fully understands what I just wrote, nor do we completely grasp the explanation that followed it, nor do we really totally get the qualifier I just added and...

it really feels sometimes as if I'm standing in front of an infinity of mirrors

and I can't look away.

Monday, December 10, 2007

I Don't Want to Look At It

from that godlike perspective, the one where our world


to the size of a single atom in relation to the Earth, where we are virtually nothing in the inexplicable


and terrifying emptiness

because then

the four women and the two girls and

the baker downtown who sells those great sweet rolls

and that old lady who walks up the highway every day

and the artist getting the paint in his eyes from that damned chapel ceiling

and that woman being devoured in the firestorm

and the really great sex those two just had

and the frosted climber standing at the top of Nepal

and that guy trudging home from a hard day a hundred thousand years ago

and the girl who just jumped into the ocean for the first time

and the people who will see the shore of a world not yet known

won't matter at all

and it will make no difference what anyone has ever done to anyone else

or ever shared with anyone

and it will not matter whether we loved or tormented each other

and all of THIS-beyond-my-words-to-express will be laughable and contemptibly small

and I suppose there are some people who can live with that view

and even take comfort in it

but I guess I'm not one of them.