Some things to know about Charlie

While i am here & before i exhaust you with today’s Charlie poem, i want to say that Tim Miller at Underfoot poetry has asked me to be a guest editor, so i am scouting poets. If you’d like 6 poems published, send me 8 to along with a bio, & a paragraph explaining your poetic philosophy, what poetry means to me, your process or all three; i am interested in transparency, i like the mysticism of form(ing) & function(ing) taken out the equation & rather have it filled with something about poetry. So this probably isn’t for those poets who think that poetry is a wholly inspired task. i don’t deny some of it is, but what is this mystery to you, rather than just the acceptance of what comes.
Let’s see what we can do. Hope to hear from you soon.

Some things to know about Charlie

Breath like a Goidel munching onions & sheep testicles.
More out of place than a Pict at a make-up counter.
Farts like a tiger after a gazelle supper.
As sincere as an empty stomach.
Not as ugly as Dot Cotton but uglier than Deidre Barlow.
Not interested in religion but it’s interested in him.
Looks as if he’s been cudgeled with a duck’s foot
& battery acid leaking from his arsehole time to time
& from his ear’oles if he ain’t ‘ad Weetabix ‘n rum;
“best get that looked at by the dentist lad”
—a beautiful incongruity of Charlie’s life.
He’d change his diet if the stove worked & his neurons had legs.
He wants a woman who smells of Osmanthus Fragrans
but don’t know what it smells like: never smelt it;
it isn’t native to the British Isles.
When he thinks (or thereabouts) he looks like a dog with itchy teeth
trying to gnaw its leg off, to satisfy the itch.
An orphan who cries his dead mother to sleep.
He reads to himself but only in his dreams: he cannot read.
His jokes flat as a witch’s tit,
as funny as the instructions to Ikea, flat pack furniture.
His love & kindness deep as a Beijing sinkhole.
He is Godly God’s purest object of creation.

Drawing the line on the “originals of faith”

Drawing the line on the “originals of faith”

i recall mentioning somewhere in my previous essay, influenced in large part on Browning’s salacious (raunchy) Red Cotton Night Cap Country or Turf and Towers, that there were a number of topics, or more accurately, ideas, which the poem raised, for me. These ideas are more accurately, exercises in strong misprision. Here’s another (not about sex or Atheism though).

There is, in part III of the poem, a chunk of verse, in which Browning makes a sort of false start, he makes as if to go “into the originals of faith…as apprehended by mankind…” but which, if tackled “would too distract, too desperately foil inquirer.” Rather than express his reasons directly, Browning opts for a series of rhetorical questions, a common tactic of Browning’s; seldom a poet who chose the exoteric option. It’s the sensible option however, taking the long, elliptical way round the problem: faith is no easy topic, especially its origins, after all.
As i see it, Browning’s option to take the long way round might reveal more about the originals than we may suspect. For though he tells us in the opening lines

Now into the originals of faith,
Yours, mine, Miranda’s, no inquiry here!

it seems to me that Browning is, with this rhetorical circumscription, illustrating that this is a literary matter, a strategy.

The first question he asks is:

……………………..How may analyst reduce
Quantities to exact their opposites,
Value to zero, then bring zero back
To value of supreme preponderance?

This is complicated; i’ve been scratching my head over many a glass of soju with this one. It seems to me a sort of inversion that still manages to be what it was originally, an inversion that toggles 2 scales, remaining both. This appears counterintuitive, but Tim Morton may provide us with an example.
Morton explains in an interview with Verso books (which i highly recommend, so here’s the link) that the maxim “the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts” never sat quite right with him, but that, instead “the whole is always less than the sum of its parts” is better, more exacting. Using a fresh example, we can reveal it to be more inclusive of everything than when everything is “always greater”.
If we take the hand as our example & say the hand is greater than the sum of its parts, then we give precedence to the hand over what it actually does, how it is composed, its evolution; we have stationed its objective unity, above the importance of its form & function, which takes a step closer to subjectivity (if additional incentive is required). Once the hand is less than the sum of its parts we interrogate what those parts are: the joints, muscles, veins & arteries, the ability to grip, touch, perform skills, eat, wash, learn, the everyday interaction it enables us to have with objects. The list could go on. In fact, we get a new list of wholes with which we might dismantle into more parts, themselves wholes.
Lessening the whole we strategically maneuver ourselves into a better vantage point from which to appreciate the details of a thing, the wider environment & ultimately the composition of reality. Try this with anything.
So there is this oscillation back & forth between the micro & macro, toggling two scales: bringing “value to zero” then “zero back to value of supreme preponderance” although, with our example, the “supreme preponderance” will be the renewed sense of importance that the dismantling of wholes into parts has for us. It becomes a process whereby wholes are continually dismantled, creating for us an active partnership with objects & how we see them.

This, if we go back to somewhere near the beginning of the poem, relates to something Browning writes: “‘Heaven’ saith the sage ‘is with us, here inside / Each man’”.
Heaven is a macro-concept, a vast, other realm— spiritually proportional to our best guesses, but if it is here in us, it still retains those properties, & the slightness of our corporeal form is still as it is, except the idea of Heaven here, conflates man with the abstract, thus reducing it, while expanding man. The value of zero toggles again.

The next question is “How substitute thing meant for thing expressed?”
i’d answer this with, synecdoche (aside: WordPress spell check is very bad, it doesn’t recognize synecdoche & would have it changed to Indochinese— perhaps WordPress is telling me that everything in this essay is nonsense.), metonym— figurative language in general.
We are slap bang in the territory of the above question, but we have moved from value to motive. Kenneth Burke in A Grammar of Motives (which i don’t have a copy of here in Korea, so have had, to my shame, pull from Wikipedia) defines synecdoche as

“part of the whole, whole for the part, container for the contained, sign for the thing signified, material for the thing made…cause for effect, effect for the cause, genus for the species, species for the genus.”

Figurative language is useful, if we know how to use it for our benefit. For those uninitiated in the language or jargon of a topic, analogy is a door in. The Italian physicist Carlo Rovelli spoke about the importance of analogy in his profession recently in a Guardian interview. i pulled a brilliant quote from that interview:

“In the elementary grammar of things, there is no distinction between ’cause’ and ‘effect’.”

Which again might have something to do with the togglability (my own shoddy neologism) of scales; for the context i have distinguished here.
It moreover foments emotional change. Take the change in emotional register of ‘the police’ & ‘the boys in blue.” As ‘the police’ the image is one of authority, obdurately bureaucratic; but as ‘the boys in blue’ there is something approachable, trustworthy, on-our-side about it. The authority is defused & there is something compatible with welfare.

Browning substitutes direct confrontation of the “originals of faith” problem & in doing so devises a set of questions that bring literary strategies to the fore. Might Browning (perhaps against his own inclination) be hinting that the “originals of faith” were literary inventions, a literature, at once symbolic & moralizing? An illustration of our organic susceptibility to art?

Browning offers a metaphor: “the wire thread through that fluffy silk men call their rope.”
The wire gives structure, strength & durability, it is unseen, of zero value to the eye, but without it there is no rope. The rope for me, works in tandem with Browning’s use of the word meridian in the lines

Since one meridian suits the faulty lungs
Another bids the sluggish liver work.

The association isn’t a strong one, but both rope & meridian put me in mind of lines. At the opening of Browning’s poem Prince Hohenstiel Schwangau The Saviour of Society Hohenstiel says

………………………………………………..…I’m rested now
Therefore want work; and spy no better work
For eye and hand and mind that guides them both,
During this instant, than to draw my pen
From blot one—thus—up, up to blot two—thus—
Which I at last reach, thus, and here’s my line
Five inches long and tolerably straight. (my italics)

The line is of immense importance, you will struggle to complete a whole without it, it is the most fundamental part of most (if not all) works of art, all structures, the first mark made in architectural plans & in building or carpentry; without it what is a poem or novel, a philosophy, even an equation. It is a reason why Robert Okaji’s line from his poem, One

I am Brahman
the straight line, the upright being

is so moving; it is the foundational aspect of the line, basic yet encompassed by unlimited potential— single yet composed of a multiplicity of words, which in themselves are vested with the power of arrangement & rearrangement, as Brahman is not a single entity but should be considered as an amalgam of all things under a single title; we can takes ourselves back to Morton’s flipped maxim.
Browning could be hinting that rather than worry & discombobulate ourselves with worrying about the origins of faith, we might be better considering the origins of art & literature: the simple line.

The line is a compositional element. George Santayana explains in The Sense of Beauty (a veritable bible of aesthetics):

“It is found where sensible elements by themselves indifferent, are so united as to please in combination. There is something unexpected in this phenomenon, so much so that those who cannot conceive its explanation often reassure themselves by denying its existence.”

Santayana then illustrates to those who cannot conceive with 4 longer & 6 shorter lines, seemingly indifferent to artifice. With these 10 lines he shows how 3 different faces in profile can be created: one grumpy, one handsome & indifferent & one grinning deviously. The differences are clearly evident, no ambiguity. The line triumphs in expression.

Burke proves a suitable reference again— for concluding. In his short essay Literature as Equipment for Living from his book The Philosophy of Literary Form (which i do have to hand) we find a strategy for the utilization of literature in the pursuit of welfare. i like to think that, if Browning had read Burke, he’d have said something to the effect of “that’s bloody bang on the mark that is kiddo, what a clever fellow you are, let me buy you a pint.”
Burke zeros in on the proverb (a single line) & thinks “why not extend such analysis of proverbs to encompass the whole field of literature.” It is no wonder this affected a relation to Browning for me— there is that word analysis, where Browning has a hypothetical analyst wonder about zero values & their preponderance.
Burke goes on the say

“could the most complex and sophisticated works of art legitimately be considered as proverbs writ large?”

Yes, they may very well. Why not let the line speak for the whole while you’re at it.
i think Burke gives us pause here to connect the dots i am trying to lay down: that the micro can, in place of the macro, represent it in some measure, & because it can be simmered down it can be brought into daily usage. Furthermore, with the handheld version of the behemoth, the manageability enables an active participation with its potential, because analysis is easily accomplished; the line is self-evident, engageable.

“The point of issue is not to find categories that “place” the proverbs once and for all. What I want is categories that suggest their active nature. Here is no “realism for its own sake.” Here is realism for promise, admonition, solace, vengeance, foretelling, instruction, charting, all for the direct bearing that such acts have upon matters of welfare.”

(We could say a lot about this list but i am aiming to stay under 2000 words.)

Here Burke provides how he envisions the active “place” of the proverb working in this context of the microcosm of great art & literature. Essentially, Burke seems to want to make literature available to people (same reason he had quarrels with Marxist terminology), because of how it can affect welfare as it becomes more available. i’d argue this is what Browning is considering when he decides to skirt the “originals of faith” topic.
Avoiding this, focusing on the line, man avoids “struggling with uncongenial earth and sky” & instead

…tread[s] the surface of the globe,
Since one meridian suits the faulty lungs,
Another bids the sluggish liver work.

In other words, our newly discovered simplicity enables corrective pairing. i take it to be self-evident how valuable this is. i don’t feel it necessary to go into it at length but leave the reader to go into this themselves or in the comments section.

Overall, i class Browning’s rhetorical questioning as a strategy for overcoming. i could be argued that Browning is advising his reader on a tactic for tackling his own works, which are mighty & complex, perhaps another time.

The humble line is available to everyone. We can invert it. It can play against its own strengths. We can build upon it confidently. We can work around it. It is the foundation. The baby steps to greatness. A unit in the welfare of individuals & even communities.

Take your time with it, invest in it, with it; never take it for granted— you just might discover how it affects you, & it’ll probably be in ways you never imagined.

The trail to Bongjeongam

(Bongjeongam is a temple complex set pretty deep in the mountain range of Seorak in the North East of Korea. Monks go there to live & study, as it is more remote than most temples.
Last September i spent 10 days wandering around these mountains with a Man Dressed like a Forest. This is quite an old poem now & part of a short(ish) collection of poems about Korea, titled Glass | Cement | Granite | Salt, which i am working toward trying to get published.)

He wakes with a start | as if returning from the dead | his arms
relax from hugging his chest thawed. Flustered & trying to catch his breath he struggles
to come to terms with getting his 2nd wind—an opportunity to make amends.
Reason is useless but all we have. i may as well name a tree | Boat

& call a pebble the best-of-my-intentions. The runnel is clean |
our actions poison even the purest will— i am speechless
to baptize myself in the cold water. A female monk on the trail
never stops smiling | indelible. A smile is cheap | like saying I love you

on the church bell’s hour— it wears. Smiles should be reserved
for exact occasions | there aren’t many. i’ve heard & read much on quiet of mind.
How much silence does a mind need? Is there a thermometer of mind silence?
It was quiet there. The monk’s chant cackled out of loudspeakers |

the forest full of the shadow of sutras as we approached Yeongshiam. The monk’s
voice like an animal yawning. He beat a wooden moktak in 4/4 |
a stiff heart beaten empty | water out of stone | wind battered
into the forest | temples erected | the roof bent into bows | hands of origami |

statues into the likenesses of men nobody ever met | pigment into paint |
opens doors | power behind muscle | wakes monks | the mountain | lights lanterns |
electric currents | heating | water | the will to grow in the soil |
the smell in cabbage | heat in chili | draws wind down the sky

to dry seaweed—if he stopped throttling the moktak |
time ends. Afterwards | as we set off again | i was unsure if
i’d veered from the idea of mountain | if i’d mistaken syllogism for metaphor.


Sheathed in prophylactic | body & conscience

It may appear that i am a Neo-Luddite proselytizing an impending apocalypse of human consciousness as it becomes absorbed into the devices sold it by the great Silicon Overlords (Overloads?). But i am not, really.
i am not religious, though may be along the lines of what Shelley said (as i seem to remember he says somewhere) when he expresses that he was profoundly religious. As Kenneth Burke said to a Communist Writing Conference in 1935, the worker should be replaced by the people. Nobody wants their fate to be a cog in a machine. Marxism, according to Burke, should borrow something from religion, owing to the root meaning of religion, from religare meaning a “binding together of people.” & isn’t this what tech promises? But is it delivering our humanity, or making us a cog in its apparatus?
i am not particularly fond, nor am i against tech. It interests me in no other way than as a phenomenon that expresses something about us.
There is something tugging me to it as a metaphor, a replacement for the poet who is moving from religious & pantheistic speculations, into a world in which these matters struggle to the fore in their own wardrobe & rather dress themselves in another’s, incapable of hiding themselves entirely, the parapraxes of their inherent character bubbling to the surface in anticipation, in hope of being found out.
There is only the human to figure in this; nature, nor God says much without personification & systems of power that invest interest in the pursuit of correction or faith.
These days, in my poems, there is something of a will-to-get-to-grips with the modern problem of conditioned reflexes of the psyche, of the things that are currently appearing & happening.
i don’t want to change anything, or rather, i do not presume to be able to change anything with a line, stanza, poem or even collection; neither do i want to, as such, speculate to make advances; i only want to be a witness of my time & let others judge the standard.
i get the feeling at times that people who don’t write poetry seem to assume we all want to make alterations to the regulating systems of society, to be a branch in the spokes, that we think our way is a way to make advanced decisions; this is seldom, if ever the case.
The poet observes & alters only what is perceived, into a format at once both at odds & in cahoots with a certain method of looking & converting, which a few train or are just able to do. There is something of an elitism, but not because we are better, but only because we chose to invest more of ourselves in one method of creating culture with art. Poetry doesn’t have to be a universal medium, though it can be, same as any other creative medium.
Does that make sense as a brief expression of my intent? Or have i just said a lot of words which seem to be an effort to make myself look clued in? Should i just shut up & get to the poetry? Be honest, & perhaps we can discuss this effort. i do think transparency of intent is important though, if only to lessen the mystery of communication through art.

Sheathed in prophylactic | body & conscience
—nothing gets in nor out
not the old woman hit by a car |
the magpie that broke its neck on the billboard
thinking it was just sky—nothing.

Once upon a time God saw all this
but He’s got all preoccupied or | dead.
“Now the algorithm took his job & it’s doing fine”
—Google knows no matter your discretion
your face to face cautions.

The head of the mob is bowed |
their chins lit not by
buttercups | nodeenodee no no NO!
Not by a vegetative thing | no carrots
stuffed with LED or

halogen kelp.— “Do you think
it’s morally correct to
program wires | chips & silicon into a God?
To have our mathematics play
guess who/what | & commit psychometric tests

to memory?” Knock…knock…

“Let’s you n’ me snap the furcular.”

“Let’s you n’ me snap the furcular.”
We did— you won the larger half.
i had no wishes anyway: i wanted you
to win. i tracked the parabola of your mood
a good few years— i saw//see
no evidence a wish came true
—didn’t you make one after all?
Were you content back then?— Any regrets?

Everything i see these days
anticipates nostalgia: i lost something |
i am losing it | i will lose it— it resets
everything to 0— i’ll start over (that’s what i do).
—A warning: don’t cramp me in
a singular effort of mobility… all push no pull
: we are not rivers… fluids circle our interiors
…flip the bulb on in the brain…

|—“we | need not follow | the example
of blood | its consequences |—there is
autonomy between | process & product.”
How to interrupt the glut of fluids with a leaf or twig…
…how to quit hunger on a diet of blessed wafers?
An egg cup of crap wine won’t draw
me God’s profile: i’d rather be all process
& nothing to show for it.

Charlie gets Godly God’s memories

The all mighty curator of the universe & tinkerer of Charlie’s Broca’s Area, zaps our hapless hero with memories of his own, from when he took human form during the Influenza of 1918, when a 100 million or so died & Godly God, despite the chaos & tragedy, danced with a dying Spanish woman in Seville.

Charlie gets Godly God’s memories

“O bugger, decibels be off with ya!
clinging my skin with achinesses long;
I’m face is wrinkled like waves of sound that belt the sure & only 28!”
—those sirens blurting pitches under Charlie’s tenement,
unnatural in their screech & squark, stir them memory-me-jigs
of the great curator of the universe & his shenanigans
—“who is them memories of? Not mine, i not got none
them gone off elseplace without my say so. Appear in bits & bobs…”
: I tap danced with the plumpest gal, a tapas bar
in Seville while the influenza tore
the world apart, nowt I could do, free will
n’ all y’see… That girl reminded me
of silky moons that warp & pull the tides;
dark craters in her cheeks, blue countenance
—soon short of breath. I was reminded of
the 1st goddesses that I made from soil
& saw dust, glued with phlegm & lust— they looked
like podgy figurines that hunters kept
for company, for shufties in the dark,
blushed cheeks, the monkey-smacking urge compelled
& calmed— (pale ribbons tied around her wrists.)
An episode on National Geographic
made Oojoo cry— (that bird sure belt her hips);
I don’t know how she did it with that flu.

So sayeth Godly God pentametering in Charlie’s brain
with ungodly idiom— putting the Id back into idiom.
Charlie could see Godly God, similar,
but dressed in clean clothes, “like in them Hitchcock films
i watch in the window of the tele shop…”
: seeing the world through men’s eye,
arse’ol’d, on his strong of manipulation
— nostalgic & a smidgen with forlorn.
i bet forever makes you scared of death…

A carping forecast…

The goings on across England’s many Market Streets. Funny how few decent photos there are; this terrible photo is the best of a terrible lot. My guess as to why, is that English people have such a low opinion of our Market Streets, often described as “depressing” that they’d never think to photograph them; first thing i’ll do when i am next back.
Makes you laugh & cry how low our opinion of our country & yet we get all nationalistic over the footy when England play, or a vote like Brexit comes along.
i think the grimness has an aesthetic to it— this is England. The sheen of grey, the hopelessness of it.
Our low opinion is one reason why, a once renowned, proud nation of shop keepers has had to vacate the premises. Last time i was home, i was surprised how many buildings there were To Let. So sad. Couldn’t even find a decent bakery to buy an iced bun.

A carping forecast | stridently sounds from England’s
Market Streets | megaphoned with a klaxon accompaniment
outside Boots pharmacy | the bakery’s aroma from next door
& a gypsy selling The Big Issue outside W.H. Smith.
The church bells quiet | traffic filling the gaps.
: tomorrow is a coma brought on by your apathy.

Then tachycardia leading to arrest | reducing sight
—dogs & cats short of breath from patois.
New religions robed in silicon & preaching code.
The cordage of grammar soaked in gin | curfews
so long as everything whatsoever ceases to be defined
by the sun | without shadow | cause & effect.

“Where will all the ham-fisted monsters spawn
from— we’ve been desensitized by all that
Hollywood & Silicon Valley festinates | bamboozling
psychologists who’ve gone into prescription overload?”
these exact words I hear | conceived in the alcove of the skull.
Ulcers the size of burls | buboes lathered in milky emollient

—the hiccup lip service | neither government nor gods
escape stretches of timelessness— in short | a lot of weather…
—cut down by a coughing fit | he drops a clause.
There is a lot of weather today: started bright
with rain scheduled in the afternoon | the wind pacing
the corridors of the town— the north forecasts snow.

“Who’s the snower doing all the snowing?”
Needless to say nobody listened to the preach |
traipsing home with shopping bags tugging tendons.
A bicycle tire punctured by broken milk bottles.
“I don’t want to miss the next bus.”
Trying to right umbrella ribs the wind inverts.

Jotting down “so n’ so’s hen night Saturday…”
Police officers clench the strap of their batons
& smile that i-know-something-you-don’t smile
taking long chevron strides | on the beat.
The denouement of progress is more than we need
—we imagine our industries endangered species

: they update their facades | gizmos & motto voce.
& nutters keep balling their intel in a fist
& point us to the gates of hell | coming out the woodwork.

Sun Ra and Myth Science…

i don’t understand why everyone on WordPress still hasn’t followed Mr Schee’s blog: he’s a bonafide, certified, amiable genius of an uncommon type.
Here he is writing about one of my favourite (& one of the most prolific & interesting) jazz musicians of all time, as well focusing in on 2 of my favorite albums in jazz music—here is Daniel Schnee talking about Sun Raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa’s Angel & Demons at Play & the Nubians of Plutonia… (If you haven’t heard these albums, you are problem shaving off years of your life because of this, go & listen to them now & increase your longevity seven fold.

Dr. Daniel Schnee


Sun Ra: Angels and Demons At Play/The Nubians of Plutonia

サン・ラー: ザー・ニュービーアンズ・オブ・プリュートニア
1969 Saturn Research LP 406

Plutonian Nights (4:22)
The Lady with the Golden Stockings (7:41)
Star Time (4:18)
Nubia (8:14)
Africa (5:06)
Watusa (2:36)
Aethiopia (7:12)

サン・ラー: エーンジェルズ・アンド・ディーモンズ・アット・プレー
1965: Saturn LP 9956-2-0

Tiny Pyramids (3:28)
Between Two Worlds (1:56)
Music from the World Tomorrow (2:20)
Angels and Demons at Play (2:51)
Umack (3:46)
Medicine for a Nightmare (2:16)
A Call for All Demons (4:12)
Demon’s Lullaby (2:35)

 As an anonymous jazz critic lamented in the German news magazine Der Spiegel, “with the current lack of new ideas in jazz, charlatans have a chance too” (1970, No. #47, p. 228), referring to pianist Herman Poole Blount, whose music has been the focus of much debate, criticism, appreciation, and analysis. So why did this occur? The following story will begin to shed some light on Blount and…

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Thinking out loud on the subject of tourism & authenticity & the problems in their relationship

Thinking out loud on the subject of tourism & authenticity & the problems in their relationship

To experience authenticity, it should be more difficult than this. More than a taxi ride, cable car, which takes you for a modest price to the summit & thereabouts. & thereabouts, you can purchase all you require to fill your back pack & your belly. Here at the shelter, before the ascent up Yeongsil to Witsaeoreum, you can eat wild roots, ginkgo nuts, ferns & rice, foraged from the surrounding forests & prepared, sizzling in black clay pots. You can eat rice cake & oranges. You can buy a broad hat to block the sun, a handkerchief for mopping sweat. Extra pairs of legs. Chocolate bars & coffee. omija or citron tea with a healthy bitterness to sting the tongue alive.
These are not authentic things in themselves. They are an amalgam, guaranteeing a volume of tourists to an authentic environment, equipped with myth, religion & local produce.
You don’t even need to clean your own boots when you get home, no need to dirty a sponge, there is an air pressurized machine, which cranks & whirs angrily, frightens the crows into bewildering caws. It is as they’re trying to fend off a threat. The machine blasts the scum off your soles.

Tourism vitiates quality. Yeongsil shelter isn’t so bad, i’m more flummoxed by ease; which i am beginning to understand as a stumbling block for authenticity. Elsewhere isn’t so fortunate. To maintain authenticity is time consuming. Time is money. Less time spent = more money made. Volumes of the product should be kept to a minimum, like winking in a blizzard.

A mist falls like rags of lace over the temple. Cools the packed pines. Tourists feels their skin again, as if it were a slab of white marble. They forgot the feeling of horripilation. They welcome the old sensations of the skin that summer forgets for them. The statues of Siddartha & Dangun gasp as if they took a gulp of carbonated water. There should be a traffic of mountain streams, pristine & audacious running beneath the small bridge leading to the temple & bifurcating throughout the forest. i can feel the afterthoughts of its energies in the light wind. The rain has been unsatisfactory this summer.

Stone lanterns with peaked roofs have space enough for a single candle. Capaciously they guide monks through the trunk of night. A shrine beside the temple smokes incense, erodes gifts of chocolate & fizzy drinks, as if the heavens developed a sweet tooth. The monk went to eat soup & catch up on Kakao Talk. There are families wearing the same clothes, a Siberian tiger on the adverse & reverse of their t-shirts. They make brief surveys of what’s on offer. Father’s with hands behind their backs & a brisk pace though their steps are shored by their height. Mother’s with purses full of tissues & small vials of perfume. Children with the scent of sugar in their mouth & red stains on their clothes. They seem disinterested, but it’s more likely the next place on their bucket list is lodged in their mind. i can’t grudge them time’s footfalls. There are countless steps to take up the mountain where the 500 Generals bang granite fists on the sky, to make their grief heard over growling motorbikes & families giggling at photographs of themselves, fastened in mid-air.

The crows bark in registers that remind me of gesticulations from a pulpit. Wings aren’t the best tool for annunciating, like using Claude Chappe’s semaphore on the radio. You need fingers for such emphasis. One crow i saw whispered in the ears of another, unlike the irritating flies & mosquitoes who zip in mine. Somewhere a circumference is made from one crow whispering to another, a clear center, except the boundaries, though felt to be somewhere, are of uncertain demarcation— greater progress is expected. Things were off to a good start for not knowing.

The cloud drifts away. The summit ridge jollies into a modern blue. Everyone is the same. Their scale is similar to a platoon of ants. Slowed by altitude. Met by a wind that never makes it down. Seeing them i think of Jacob ’s ladder & wish them the best of luck. The striated façade of a cliff beside them, a reminder of our stature. Dead trees. Medicinal flowers. Rocks & dry grass.

Teenagers follow parents to the temple next to the car park. They look up at the eaves hand painted with lotus in teak, red, blue & orange. Hand crafted by master builders who study for years, who carried fallen pines from somewhere deep in the forest. Treated them to a new incarnation. Objects arranged into adoration like 2 chopsticks that fell into the shape of a rood. Even the window shutters carved into a diamond lattice the sad browed bend of the roof is of no interest to them— its gable shelter for small birds, ignored. After impersonating crows they check their cell phones & never resurface. i don’t blame them, but i want to. What is this lump of wood to them? They can’t use it for shelter, it inspires no aesthetic climax, its interior & exterior is without LED or halogen fixtures. The temple doesn’t flash unless the wind extinguishes & reignites a candle in the same breath. This is a remote place & they have no gauge on the distances of solitude. They are yet to abstract the dimensions of peace.

The crows signal each other with a spectrum of caws. They speculate on our commotions.
Time’s urgency is lost in the pull of so much umbrage, in so many dried sticks of the dead carpeting the ground. Branches that if brushes were attached at their tips would paint master pieces with a little encouragement by the wind.

Only our presence brings time here. Geology has its own. & tries to ignore our vested interests. Goes around us. Will always take the long way round.

But i’m only here for the difference in degrees.

FALling (PArt z)

The last sonnet Falling. Link to Part A

Falling 2

Knowing around 0%, about the influence
of deserts on man— aside from sun burn
& visions— i might discover, people who’ve known
only deserts, actual or otherwise;
that falling is counter intuitive to existence;
unsalvageable dependence on fideism, buoyed by prayers
for fields of cereals & oases, time-lapsing into oceans
& forests of hard woods— a focal shift to horizons.

As a child, on a Welsh beach, i tried
(on good info) to scoop my way to China,
i thought it a stupid endeavor. On a hunch
i figured there must be a point at which
the sand caves in to a remote nowhere,
or perhaps Shanghai, a fishing vessel
against the skyline—but more likely, sand.