Polished Pebbles – 7 short pieces
From sweltering mud swells the lotus
From rending briars arises the rose
Spring comes from winter
Gardens from dung
Butterflies from worms
Diamonds from coal
Dawn from darkness
And we from me.
Your name is tender to my ear
Your face is sacred to my sight
We conspire with every breath
And touch with every footfall.
"The solemn truth for Man
Is his utter solitude,"
Thus intoned the one.
But Ama I'm alone with you.
At work I task for you
At home I chore for you
These family, these friends --
Loved, touched, and known for you.
I kill distrust
I kill all doubt
Dissolving my world
And dare the void.
Shall amalgamate the leading race
People her lakes with dolphins
And create by mind the allheal.
Her rivers shall swell
The broken sky will for a time cost life
Before adding much more.
The sick lakes will stew and dry
Till nature and man bow to each other.
Dragons shall emerge from their slumber
And be ridden across the skies
And long before the ocean dries
A new continent will arise in the Pacific
Belonging to Allists
Who bind religions as one.
Mormonism will be proven true
As ancient cities are revealed by God,
Islam shall reform
Christianity congeal into one
Odin will return bodily
And startle the world
Pagan faiths will revive
All that is dead will live
The dodo return
As shall the passanger pigeon
And the dinosaurs.
Science will resurrect
Our heroes and saints
And finally everyone
As the ocean dries up to make room.
When the sun finally dies
The earth will become a great ship
Seeking a new star
Who will gladly receive her.
Thus it is and thus it shall be
So says Ama
I'm a glutton for alembicated lines and lubricated phrases, the songster's caw and the chanter's repetition -- the moves and grooves of an ultimate period, boldly building into a final form upon a formidable trope, as a magician grabbing the inside of cloak with a flick of the wrist reversing its color, so the wit and whimsy of a prankish pendant recasts the scheme, as Melville, as William Gass, a clever turn of phrase, an insinuating word that works like the coiled bones of whales Eskimos would freeze in seal fat so that after a wolf swallowed down the bone it would open in the guts of the beast and tear from within.
One summer an ant wandered far from her nest. She came upon a grasshopper eating a leaf of grass.
"A riddle for you," sang the grasshopper:
"What eats sweetest grass, but sees no green? drinks deepest oceans but knows no blue? lasts longer than calendars? hallows heaven, yet speaks no prayers?"
The ant, however, had no time for riddles. Presently, the grasshopper flexed her supple leg and struck a song across her wing.
"And what bread will fiddling find?" demanded the ant. "Why play at all? A cold winter comes and will swallow you whole. Work for your winter or you will die in your sloth. But if you do not work, then your soul is already winter; if you foster sloth than you already sleep in your grave. Until you have known the sweetness of doing a job well, of putting your whole heart into your task, you will know nothing of fulfillment.
"All this mumbling to yourself is meaningless––oh lazy do-nothing, don't smirk as if you knew. She who knows gives her knowledge action. You are all flicker and no flame, all wick and no bang. Sooner bite the queen than think without action. And when action is needed, don't think. Will you who has no goals smirk at me? Yes, we ants have heard much of grasshoppers. They are the last supplies we bring in for winter."
The grasshopper returned: "What bread do I find? The world is my leaf. Why sing my song? I sing for romance, and the romance of a singing heart. Do you really think an ant lives longer than a grasshopper? Or is 'life' your colony? Grasshoppers avoid numbers like a plague, but individually we survive just as long as ants. And yes, we grasshoppers do have a grind to ax.
"Life is leaping, not crawling. Life is singing, not dragging. Love is a pale jade locust with summerset eyes, not a slave-driving queen hot upon her mound. Yet what can I tell you of love and life? Each to her own. The worker must work, the dreamer must dream.
"What you call sloth, I call meditation. What you call sloth, I call inspiration. Is life in the length or is life in the living? When the green goes, I go with it. Do you not see the poetry in this?"
And the grasshopper went her way, and lived for summer; the ant went her way and lived for winter. As for the wiser of the two, who can tell?
The Two Brothers' Dreams
Two brothers came to breakfast and discovered that both had dreamt significant dreams the night before.
Said the first: "I had a nightmare: the Horror chased down every man in relentless pursuit as they jumped over the others who had fallen in exhaustion, chasing each down till his last store of energy was spent. Only those who stopped to help their fellow man did the Horror pass over and forget."
"It seems to me," said the second, "that your dream envisions the world as a hospital, with each man amounting to no more than his neighbor's nurse."
"Then what was your dream?"
"I dreamt a morning dream. The veil of gross matter lifted, exposing the light of spiritual matter beneath, and men and women glowed from their hearts, glowing the brightest during acts of creative love. Some were gods, resplendent as the sun; others were angels, hallowed as the moon; still others were ghosts, faint as starlight; and then there were the shadows, who shined no light at all, but ate up every glint and smothered it in darkness. But after the veil returned, not all those who shone greatest and brightest continued to so appear, except I, having seen the secret, could catch a glint in each man's eyes, hints in his manner. I saw that those who previously appeared as shadows now stood among those praised loudest, with the most reverent and holy terms describing them, as great men of high destiny and deep integrity."
"Your dream does too much injustice to this world, where seeming and being often coincide," said the first.
Neither brother knew if the other had done justice to his dream, but both resolved to do justice to his own.
During the Nazi reign, a certain literary Jew fled for his life, taking as his sole possession his magnum opus, an unfinished manuscript. He had heard of an underground railroad, supported by a Protestant pastor who pitied the Jews. But this pastor said: "Aha! Atheist, you do not find me ignorant of your writings, so disruptive to the faithful! Would I risk my neck to save you, who have already cost so many souls, and will cost even more if I save you? Get lost: I would report you if that wouldn't jeapordize me." Indignant, the Jew went to another, a Catholic priest. The priest said: "We have made our peace with the Reich, and will not risk our standing. But take heart, we will help in other ways. For instance, I will not report you, though this breaches fealty. Pray to our God and ask for your tribulation to end." Again, the Jew left. But when the gestapo confronted the pious priest, he betrayed the Jew. In custody, the Nazis irreverently questioned him. However, a certain Nazi officer leafed through the Jew's manuscript, was pierced by its humanity. He stole into the Jew's cell, and talked with him face to face. "You are an atheist of some influence, and therefore I who has God on my side can hardly sympathize. Nevertheless, you have a passion in your style worthy of flourishing. That cannot happen here. Therefore, I will help you escape to America." Which he did, at some risk. Who then was the neighbor to the Jew?
-- R ᴤ88s Я --
Perfection Is Easy