Now the snow is melting
my neighbour’s roof will not collapse.
The best of religion is poetry.
The worst is not.
Momentarily the shifting mist
makes an owl’s face.
Now the snow is melting
my neighbour’s roof will not collapse.
The best of religion is poetry.
The worst is not.
Momentarily the shifting mist
makes an owl’s face.
The mountain is visible again
thru mist and falling snow.
Yesterday a hazel limb cracked
from the weight of old snow fringed
with clusters of tiny crystals.
Had to cut it off
with a rusty saw.
beyond the low cedar fence
the bare branched plums
the snowy roof of another house
but softly falling snow
coffee by a window framing
darkness from which
Elephant Mountain slowly rises
above the brightening snow
suddenly a black tom appears
over the low sill
but he does not see me here
The heart of the sun is a good thing to find
when the dark pole of the year can be
the dark pole of the mind
the mind can be like the dark yin
on the bright yang of life
or it can be a mote of brilliance
in a dark and fearful age
the mind is something like a sun
and something like a salt doll
dissolving in a sea of change
until it somehow learns to be
not just the fugitive flesh
but also the fragile planet that upholds
everything that goes whirling by
like an eddy at the edge of a stream
where an old fish motionlessly
on green moss
under a clear depth
of flowing light
Clearly existence is the dance of inconceivably marvellous matter.
Back in the days before the system crashed physicists used up their their days searching for a fundamental theory about the ultimate nature of space, time and the atom.
Near as I can tell the subject is a rabbit hole into which vast sums of public money and time disappeared while most of us starved. The search sometimes resulted in interesting technology like nuclear weapons and positron emission tomographic scanners but the bottom of the universe was never found and I doubt that it actually has a bottom, or a top.
Which means that no one will ever conceive or even coherently imagine what this universe of matter and energy is, certainly not me.
Turtles all the way down eh? Probing the depths of anything we always find something but probing that we find another something, another turtle.
And that’s cool with me.
How boring it would be if my universe was closed and bounded like the ones so many think they’re living in, if you can call that living.
The laws of marvelous matter are the laws of physics.
Anything which is physically possible is ok with the universe, tho it may not be ok with you or me. Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder and there’s nothing that is beautiful to every mind. I once told a man that the Holocaust made me aware of how evil humans can be.
The Nazis, he replied, did not go far enough.
Humans naturally hold conflicting perceptions of what is beautiful, good and desirable. And this is the basis of all conflicts, from schoolyard spats to genocide and the present war of terminal capitalism against all other visions of social order and ultimately against all life.
Based on the fact that the beauty or moral qualities of a thing or act do not inhere in anything outside the mind of the beholder some assert that all perceptions of moral goodness or beauty are entirely subjective (which is true) and equally valid (which is false). If all views were equally valid there would be no grounds for saying that some views or viewers are informed or uninformed, wise or foolish, beautiful or ugly. But this relativism ignores the fact that the validity of a perception fundamentally depends on how closely it corresponds to the facts it claims to perceive.
All views and perceptions are to some extent filtered or biased by various factors. But some of us know that the last holocaust was not a myth but a fact, not a good thing but a colossal crime against humanity and we know that minds who think otherwise are blind to the truth, the facts.
Likewise we know that the present holocaust of unfettered industrial depradation of our biosphere is not some weak minded misperception or conspiracy propagated by more than 97 percent of climate scientists in league with left wing liberals. Like most conspiracy theories that one is widely supported by light minded folk who read blogs and websites produced by minds who share their fantasies and also see them as suckers for click bait. Some conspiracy theories turn out to be true but when I look at this one I ask two questions: Who supports climate crisis denialism and who benefits from it?
If you look at prominent sites like Infowars you find that they cater to a perfect zoo of haters, eagerly venting their hatred of women, aboriginals, people of different colours, liberals, intellectuals, gays, refugees from “shit hole” countries and those refused full personhood in the affluent lands of the West: the poor, houseless, jobless, the inadequately schooled and all for whom the fantasy of trickle down capitalism has become a never ending struggle for the rudiments of survival.
Once you see who supports climate crisis denialism it’s easy to see who benefits. You need only ask who is creating this global nightmare. In a world where the vast majority are losers you need only look at the winners. And their servants, the wanna be winners. You know who they are and you know where they are, especially if you live in a place where beautiful vistas command the highest prices such that only the few can ever own a house and most of us spend half our incomes on rent.
You know who they are because, if you have a job, you probably work for them. Maybe you build or sell their lavish homes, log their forests or mine their earth even tho those forests grow on land that supposedly belongs to all citizens. Maybe you make your living running oil pipelines under fragile ecosystems on unceded aboriginal territory or work as a lawyer or banker facilitating the movements of the exploiters’ money and property, perhaps as a civil servant making sure that the wheels of resource exploitation and your palms are constantly oiled.
And all the way down the chain of command mums the word. You have a mortgage to pay, kids to feed and send to college. And you’re haunted by the slimy things you see but you also see your less quiet colleagues let go, out of work or working for far less than you and somehow you begin to think that the top predators aren’t so bad. They were just like you, kept their heads down, worked their way up. You learn to keep your head and hardly notice that you’re slowly losing your soul.
Maybe you once had dreams of becoming a better person but now they seem naive. Once you thought like a child but as you became a man you put aside childish things. Now you seldom remember your nightly dreams but when you do they spoil your morning. The crack in the tea cup leads to the land of the dead.
Maybe you try to paint or write but it doesn’t flow and when it does it scares you. It looks or sounds subversive. You paint over the image or shred the rant.
You hear someone talk about a global crisis, coastal flooding, refugees coming in, socialists turning your world upside down. The fools, you think, why don’t they understand that it’s just change. The weather always changes, always has.
Maybe you’ll save enough money to buy a villa in some well guarded secret place. Maybe you’ll get a licence, buy a gun.
Most of us are more or less awake to the fact that our house is burning and fitfully or fervently ask what, if anything, we can do to save it.
We cannot know how many humans and other animals will survive but we must do what we can to save as many as we can. Our first priority must be to save the children and leave them in a world with a healthy and ever evolving diversity of species. This means we must give them the tools and weapons they will need to wage the war for life after we are gone.
The tools/weapons they will need are of three primary kinds: physical, intellectual and moral or spiritual. The physical tools are widely discussed in any catalog of wilderness survival gear. There will obviously be some occasions when physical combat tools and strategies will be needed and these are also widely discussed. In a world where small and large wars are already constant the techniques of war making and negotiation are widely available and the above are not areas of which I have more than superficial interest. But there is a tool to which I have given some thought and I see it as the foundation for a world worth saving. That foundation is a spiritual, moral and intellectual vision of the world we most fervently wish for our children and all other forms of life.
I can only offer my own vision of that world and you must decide for yourself whether any part of it is useful for the work of creating the world you want to become.
In the world I want to become there will always be both poets and philosophers, sometimes embodied in the same person or in couples and groups where some love more wisdom and others live for beauty. By poet I mean a worker in any medium whose intent is to explore and illuminate the tragic absurdities of the present and celebrate the creative possibilities of a mortal but open mind on a fragile but fertile planet in an unbounded universe of beginningless and endless change.
In the world I want to become there will also be books, artifacts and other records of the best and the worst of which humans are capable because only our knowledge of darkness enables us to fully appreciate the value of light and only our records of luminous moments and minds can show us the beauty we have been and may become again.
Connections In Secret by Brad Bradley
(interruption by toddler in fairy dress riding wheeled hobby horse: Doug! What yer doing? I’m typing, where you riding to? To you, pause turns around, ‘bye.)
… void of philosophical conclusions, irony, innuendo, or explanations, Bradley simply gives us the words evoked by remembered events.
We are given the words only with no presentation of the events that evoked them so we have no way of connecting them directly to those events or to each other.
On first reading it reminded me of overhearing fragments of a conversation behind a wall but this morning, after a second reading I think I see what the poet is doing.
The clue is in the title Connections In Secret.
The connections are the author’s business.
We get only the words and connect them as we will or don’t.
This is an alternative to conventional poetry. I find it intellectually interesting and a relief from the conversational mode which too often is little more than a prosy paraphrase of the writer’s source experience and intention.
It also gives the reader more to do. We’re invited to read, reread and construct whatever narratives we can from the assembled words. No doubt this is particularly fun for the people who shared the original events.
Without attempting augury I prefer to let the words float across the page like blocks of ice refracting mind light as they drift from a melting glacier, to let them sound, resound or echo as they will. Curious objects found in the midden of faux virtuous or genuine revolt at the horrors that vomit hourly from our digital screens.
Find more of Brad Bradley at:
Plato said there are many different kinds of chairs, but in the perfect world there is only one perfect chair.
Shuffling thru cold fire
shaped like fallen leaves:
after all these years
I still don’t know
what they are.
Waking in my room above the Clear Light Cafe, I slip into my patched robe and descend to the kitchen where i wash my face, start a fire in the iron stove and make what I call coffee here at the charred edge of history and the end of Time with a big T. A few nows later finds me dining on bannock and coffee in a bombed out upper room that serves as a deck for surveilling the village below and the ashen waste beyond. Presently I notice a figure in black threading the empty street in my direction. Even at this distance I can tell from her gait that it’s a woman, one with no nonsense on her mind and soon I see that it’s my dear Lucida. As she comes near her face turns up to reflect the morning sun and I wave. She waves back and soon I hear the door jingle open, her steps on the creaking stair and here she is, coming for a hug and breakfast. Eagerly she tears into her bannock and something in a tin she has brought with her. She passes the tin which I sniff then taste on my knife. A ghost touches my scalp and I whisper one word: strawberry. You have strawberries, I say. In old cans loaded with sugar that some call white death.
Yes, she says. There are cases of it, in a warehouse exposed by the shifting dunes.
We best call a meeting, I say.
Let sleeping dogs, lie she says.
Yes, but not starving neighbours.
Of course, she says, but that can wait. What you been doing?
Still talking to the Red Monk, I say, roughing out his story. He’s currently locking brows with a philosopher in 5th century Alexandria about his way of communicating with the gods.
Oh the gods, she says. Where were they during the holocausts?
They were burning, I said, and pouring oil on the flames.
And where are they now?
Having breakfast, I say, and doing what they can to survive.
I’d like to talk to a god, she says. How would I do that?
Depends on the god, I say. The philosopher Proclus described it like this. First you have to choose which god you want to link with, preferably one for which you have a natural affinity. If you like the sun you choose Helios, if the moon: Selene, War: Ares, Love: Aphrodite.
What about the children of Night? she asks, with a different voice.
Some like it darker, I say. Perhaps you would like to commune with Fate, Doom, Death, Sleep, Dreams, old Age, Pain, Revenge, Strife, Deceit or Sexual Pleasure.
I thought sex was the province of Eros, she said.
Eros was the god of sexual love, I said, it includes all pleasures that are ruled by love but excludes any that accrue to cold hearted fucking or rape.
Death and I are already close, she says. No help needed there. I could have a better relation to Sleep. I guess belladonna or opium would bring me closer to her but I don’t have either of those, yet.
The Red Monk says he met her once, in a crypt under Alexandria. she was surrounded by torches and her face was hidden behind a mask with two curved tusks, I say. A mask of hide.
An animal, she says, with tusks curved like the new and waning moon. I’d like to meet her.
I know a place, I say.
The green hill is still there, half buried in grey sand, its charred top still surmounted by nine grey pillars supporting nothing but the pale sky. Between the pillars we approach the low dome of age worn stones, pass thru the entrance hole and descend the ashy spiral stair by the faint glow of an unseen source and presently come to a tall, curved gap in a curved wall. Stepping thru the gap we find ourselves at the rim of a vast sphere, seemingly clothed in a tapestry of vistas, each framing a long road or avenue along which processions, small groups or individual beings are travelling to, thru and from this intersection, this tiny node in the warp and weft of inconceivable emptiness.
Now Luci and I are moving toward a tall figure which has magnetized our attention. It’s robed in the same fabric as the outer sphere and it seems to be instructing those who come to pass, about which paths are safe or wise or otherwise worth taking. Then the figure turns and I see that its face is a blur of possible beasts except for the bright, curved tusks which resolve at last into a disc of light around a human face. I bow toward that face as it bows toward me and as our eyebrows touch I hear it say, Ah, Light. Things are much more visible when you’re here. Then the moon beast bends to touch brows with my friend, asking her name.
Lucida, she says, tho he calls me the Dark One.
Nothing is more lucid than a clear night, says the Guide, a perfect medium for luminous things.
And you are?
Like you, he says, a medium, a guide. What are you looking for?
Poetry, she says, I weary of all this circumambulation.
Straight to the point then, he says, and sings:
I loved your master perfectly
and I taught him all that he knew.
He was starving in some deep mystery
like a man who is sure what is true.
At this point I begin to feel uneasy. The story is getting away from me the nominal author. But that verse has been going thru my head intermittently for hours, days and I begin to see maybe why. As Lucida and the guide continue to chat I put my guess into the following words:
The deepest reach of my poeticosophical quest so far is my understanding that I don’t and never will possess more than partial knowledge of the ultimate nature of existence, the cosmos, things as it is, what is actually happening here and now: this hand that moves the brush, the brush, the ink, the paper. When I reach this point I am suspended in mystery but I’m not sure what to feel about it. Is this the ultimate epiphany? Part of me hopes not because it wants that hunger for a deeper understanding and the thrill when it is reached.
Lucida and the portal guide are still in conversation, not noticing my absence, which has only been a moment really. If I’m starving in this great mystery I’m like a person at a banquet who can’t decide which dishes to eat before he becomes the skeleton at the table.