Daily Archives: October 20, 2014

Rules Of Thumb

Originally posted 9/11/2010.

When it comes to popular proverbs,
laws of physics, rules of thumb, common knowledge,
sensible notions, and given assumptions,
exceptions are becoming more and more the norm.  

Geometry is shifting.
Angles, never before provably trisected,
now regularly fall into neat triplet piles. 

Shelter is losing its place in the hierarchy of needs.
Soon, it will be forgotten entirely. 

It appears to knowledgeable observers
that knowledgeable observation is becoming a lost art
akin to alchemy and divination by gut of pigeon and pig. 

If there are ghosts, they wear visors
and lean deep into ledgers
with our very dimensionality at their calculating mercy. 

Nymphs, fauns, and revenant Pan himself establish Websites
and collect scores of followers
who fondle tokens of their avatars while staring at doorknobs,
thinking of the potential for rattling entries in the dark.

There are suspected reserves of container ships laden with butterflies
who are waiting to change the world’s climate.  

My love, this world is slipping away into an immeasurable mystery.
Nothing we have known to be true is certain.
We should sleep with our eyes open now, scanning the dark for signals.
When we think we have seen enough, it will be up to us how we choose to live.
What we choose to measure.
What we count on.
How we refine and define the terms.

If a butterfly comes close, hold your breath.
If a god possesses you, count rapidly to one hundred seventeen.
If the door rattles in the night, we’ll cast a cold eye on it,
pass through the walls,
and escape carrying nothing with us —
not even the meaning of love, or of home.
We will come back for them later,
or make new ones
while holding up our thumbs to plead for rides to new places.

Our thumbs —
once the measure of punishment, as the story goes —
will become our transport.
We will have to depend on each other to carry each other.

Eventually, we’ll forget the evil source of the term and say:

a “rule of thumb”
measures the distance you were carried from your point of origin
before you decided you could live where and how you are living right now,
and is only fixed until the next departure.

And then we’ll say:
Love is the vector of human travel. 
We’ll say:
Home is the fare humans paid for the transport. 

And when we say human,
what we will see is aluminum pie plates — 

when full,
flaky and soft centered;
when empty,
easily flung into flight,

shining as they fly.


Gunstock

Originally posted 4/10/2008.

The word “gunstock”
sends the listener into a maze,
evoking as it does
everything

from the anticipation of a fast run 
down the New Hampshire mountain which bears that name, 
powder surging around the tips of your skis,

to the feel of oiled walnut against your shoulder.

There’s anticipation there too
of the sound coming a split second late,
the long whoosh of the bullet drawn out into the air 
just ahead of the punch of the blow to your shoulder.

You cannot know much of the reality of either of these things
until they have happened to you,
so if you have not skied or shot, 

the word “gunstock” is a theory at best.

It is a gate that may lead you to contradictory places,
or at least to places that bear little resemblance to each other
until you decide to cut through the walls of the maze 

and see that in truth,
“gunstock” always means
“rapid movement”
with a related meaning of
“potential death.”

That “joy” is also operative in each of those meanings
may not be apparent until you cut through the green walls
that define the maze established by the presence of the word.

Learning which of the meanings is operative
changes the nature of the maze.

Holding all of the meanings to be true in all situations
is a key to cutting the maze down.