by Patrick Zale

Here is light together with darkness
I cannot comprehend it
I know not what these words mean
it was given to me
therefore I share it with you
is this wrong?
Who will undertake this dangerous journey with me -
within a nether realm,
the universe of an imagination
wherein no thing may be impossible,
nor any reality prevent
the threads of its suppositions
from unraveling with usage,
there is still life here -
that unconditional and miraculous
gift of magic:
to speak the epihanous language
freed of and filled with tormentation and
with a separate last -
to orchestrate the self into that bliss
unsure who could hear him or understand nothing
to know that she who lives a life of poetry
experiences poetry, and relishes all the ironies,
to forget about asking all the great questions,
to wonder no more if the moment be propitious -
somewhere in this magic garden of darkness
an ancient sundial awaits discovery which
when touched illuminates another part of our mysteries
yet gives birth also to new horizons
whose Guardians will stand on those frontiers
beckoning us, singing we are the darkness,
come into us, and discover -
we are the wall of fire ringed around you
stand over us, become one with the flames
turn loose of whatever you are holding
and dance freely with us in the wild wind -
we have been this way before
shake no more the clenched fist
open up the blue hands to life
understand the delusion of language makes us one
into this sacred space, this abstract communion,
where he can still know enough to say
I am manna, therefore feast if you hunger,
this is my flesh - these words -
for you, there is this choice:
the incantation is set in motion, it will not stop,
go on, or quit here: go away now -
I must walk the road back to the low fields slowly now
I must return again to the tree of broken dreams there
wherein that night, so long ago,
the tree had fallen upon him
farther out in the fileds than
the strength of a voice could carry over night
and in the dreams that night under the tree
there were many strange things he had forgotten
until their reoccurence years later
would remind him of that night
deep in the dark silent eyes of the marveling wolves
and far...far...away from the concrete highway
where not even suicide could be an escape
knowing that his spirit does not die, taking many forms,
not without purpose, in a senseless and brutal existence
but with the deliberation real perfection would require:
when the work is done, the door opens -
no one who leaves before the task is finished may find it
but must begin the labors anew -
the ultimate fate of the universe
is to be universal, they said,
in being, to bring in
that which is artless is to find the verse,
to be in the middle of two infinities
stretching out in opposing directions
is to choose a path for a day's travel -
what people choose not to understand
they call cryptic
they ask about an egg
what does it mean
what is to be gained by acting stupid now?
wary were the ancient teachers, they said,
carefull, like winter travelers crossing a stream -
these were people who understood
nature is not subservient to human desires -
the lungs, sometimes, they ache,
to pull in the stagnant air
so easy to push it out and cease
why does he struggle
to breathe in once more
one more shorter breath
more painful still than the one before?
I make a cheap rhyme and pause
posing philosophical queries like dolls on a street curb
while the hot dog vendors of literature murmur
he does not understand the narrative -
they are mostly old dolls
some without limbs or
the hair singed off on one side -
who will buy the garbage back
just because it has become art, say the wise,
we don't want to look like fools again -
sometimes the sun comes up without interpretation
and I walk a dune road awakened
by the shriek of a mischevious seagull
who has had her breakfast disturbed
with the poet's entranced passing, nothing more...
on another morning no one seems to notice a girl
who sells flowers from the tropical americas
on the winter streets of the dark city -
isn't a line of poetry like one fo those flowers,
after all...only that?
he walks the path now that vanishes behind the traveler
into that place where words
shall fail him completely as language
and like some bizarre apocolyptic wraith
if he should stumble out on the other side
stuttering and exhausted by the effort
to force coherency on this experiential reality
perhaps the seductress has spun her web again
or maybe the universe has finally made some kind of decision:
into the center of this storm
begin I now to backwards speak
so that all things said become again unsaid
abandoned in that desolate white wilderness
where red flagrant cinnamon brain sparkles suggest
the human mind itself is a pychedelic,
manufacturing itself from potatoes, or whatever,
and even the wizard finally manages to escape
from the charms of his emerald city -
who I am feels the black holes of our spirit
grows weary of my thin self-justifications
and tires of the ceaseless evasion
does not understand how to seek forgiveness,
hurts instead -
I want to be free,
but I need you -
radios play faintly in the empty rooms of my house
motors idle on the carless street late at night
voices have come to visit the magic garden again -
does to forget mean to lose
all of the things from one's mind that
peace will not sleep with?
Why do trees grow into the sides of mountains?
Life is dumb -
andante', in a glazed mask,
smoke curling around the almondine image
long coarse black hair frames
a gaze as he happens to observe
the gracefullness of his hand bones
making a dramatic gesture for the arts -
how did that look, he wonders,
who is the performance in smoke curls?
who are the hidden eyes in the mask?
ehose cold glint awakens
the midnight tarantula feelings
that everything is not okay?
mama told us about so many things in so many ways,
daddy always seemed to know what would happen next,
the child becomes reluctant to pull away
from someone trusted who cares
yet desires to find the counterpart -
he fears to risk the walk of the spirit path
yet desires to find the way upon which he will not stumble:
from the inside, the human form grows outward,
from the moment, one goes onward,
from the thousand dreams, one wakens,
maybe it is not time to give up yet -
in another dream it's a new opportunity
in this grand economy of all things we call life and death
every casual breeze across the meadow sows a forest
and every pause in the motion of a bird's wing counts
just as long as there is some kind of morning after the night
it will not be hopeless:
for those who wait
in any dark morning, at first,
the dawn is just an idea -
my life is maybe half-spent now, maybe more,
and the nights I regret the most are the ones
I let them walk away with just a smile -
desire has honored me,
and in a way that without any doubt
was both imperfect and not adequate
I have loves humankind without any reservations:
whatever love is, I know it naked now,
because nobody gets to always win -
it was in a place like this that he had lost his way
forgotten whether this were a moment in the dream
or just exactly when the boundaries began to blur
it was in a place like this once he had come
in search of a lost book on botannicals
that would tell the forgotten secrets of their distinctions
and a man died who forsook the search for magic
and began instead to experiment:
we had found a journal of trials -
which of these were the dream, which the premonition,
which the remembrance, or if any one real,
he began to answer all of his own questions differently -
the moon is full tonight of all that which it has inspired
in poets that was not love, or noble and heroic,
and the winds blow fast along this coast
and the birds move in front of the fast winds
except for one song-mother, already hunkered over her clutch,
tonight the moon is magic for her because she is lonely
and anchored by pine straws to a thin limb that bobs and weaves
a rhythmic pattern in the storm, perhaps not unlike true flight -
I have respect for this kind of precarious grasp:
trust in the universe that you fullfill a purpose, they said,
trust in the light to act as light,
trust also the darkness to be as darkness,
and the truth of trust will not elude you -
I realize you might think
this is not the way he should be writing poetry
since I was a child I believed
in the power to manifest from the mind,
was I wrong?
was beauty my delusion?
that which was formed
witness my hand
repulsive, ugly, yet
it is all the truth I could stand to breathe -
without remorse I dreamt of beauty
perhaps even glimpsed it for a brief moment
but it was my karma to become this ugly and
to not relent:
in the last dream a path chosen through the red door
led onto a bone-white terrace overlooking
a garden like Claude Monet's, as seen by Claude Monet,
where the sky reflected the nature of the still water in the lilly pond
and the Giverny water shone with the promises of the sky in fluid motion
all alone in the glaucoma darkness of the master's tangled garden
while he, imprisoned above in the windowless tower,
turns the windlass that rotates the kaleidoscopic
fluidness of his skies into the sun exploding over the Boulevard Saint Denis
a stick figure approaching in the flying snow switches her
umbrella to the left side and reveals herself to be
Edward Munch's bald terror, walking away from nothing,
she blows a perfect ring of frosty air with a tiny gasp released -
has she been startled by the realization that the master
paints only nothing - light falling on trees, flowers, water,
and cannot do people, or is she merely surprised
to find the poet in attendance at her anonymous passage
pen and notebook in hand, hoping to record...what?
another small hiccup - another ring of frosty air,
she struggles with the other stick figures against the wind to leave the picture
and in the meadow a yellow cat has captured a chameleon
but while tortuing it the skin has changed color and
so she escapes -
Oh, magic river of words,
water blending into water
light reflecting on the surface
a shimmering sense of stability amidst motion -
my strangulated eyes grow old with age
the river is as young as the last rain
a girl floats by on a piano singing
what shall this song mean to us
who have lined the banks so patiently?
Devotion becomes Identity:
the light opposses the dark and is yet reflected within it,
the dark opposses the light and is yet a small shadow,
the mystery cannot be resolved by a victory,
and we are too involved in the everyday conflicts
to report anything other than
the timbre of a raindrop smacking a leaf
or to marvel at a wisdom
that likens one drop of water to another:
what was pain becomes now bliss,
what was bliss becomes now pain -
from any position of direction inside a small, dark hole
a budding sprout finds the great sky above it
and digs its big toe down into the deep earth:
he who destroys sows the seeds
for a greater harvest of destruction, they said,
so that nothing should be wasted in the passage
all was ordained to be witnessed,
all were present to be heard.

CopyrightęPatrick Zale, 2004