Mixed feelings. Images clash. I don’t always or sometimes or never believe in phases, set eras, concrete life-steps that group themselves in any rational order. I don’t think we pass through these things on our way to wherever we find ourselves. It’s random. And this belief I feel at times, no times, as if it were always and never, is something that clashes with my art, what I think and feel about art, how it must happen and be.
Order. Order the chaos. Organize the disparate, random elements of our lives and our worlds in such a way that they, for a moment at least, make a certain kind of sense or anti-sense. The opposite of that sense is still a kind of order.
And so we make stories, songs, paint pictures, sculpt the indifferent rock. We infuse meaning and subtext and point to connections that are only there because we say so, and this is beautiful. The best make it sublime. But beneath the surface of our Quixotic arrangements, we find accidents and disorder without connections. We humans desperately need far more than that, and so we turn to art.
Within our own lives we do this too. We strive to order the past and make it cohere, and often succeed in our own minds. We do better than Ezra, eschewing what is botched for what is whole.
As a young man, when I wrote poetry, the Oracle was upon me, and I wrote in that temple, and I mostly believed this was my voice, though irony was never far away. Contrary to the usual stereotypes about aging and a growing sense of guru-wisdom, uncertainty gained ground with every passing year. A sense of doubt and fear about what I once believed encroached upon all of those certainties which, truth be told, were never that set in stone.
So this poem, this missive from that oracular past, is a small taste of where I once was. Can I take it as proof of an actual stage of life? Can I place it within a decade or a constant state of mind that never wavered back then, even though it seems like another world to me now? No answers. Only questions. Only nagging defeats that push me forward. And those defeats are fine as long as I don’t just sit at the gateway, thinking it’s the only possible entryway to what is there for us to test, to measure, to eat and drink and love.
The Land is a wet Drum
The poem of the ocean and the waves
The earth needs us to sing for it
Celebrations we have in joy
For the fields to my left
And the fruit to my right
The young girl with the long thematic hair
Walks by with a guitar
Like mother and babe
And I ask her:
Will you sing the song and psalms of the highest
And the dreams and hopes of the lowest
As we stand in the layers
Like middle generations?
I weep before and after this chord and that strum
There is no wind in the air
No fragrance to remember but I thought
About the melody and wondered
What was closest in nature:
Bird Dolphin Lion or sudden changes
In the wind?
I thought about the thousand moves beyond the cameras
The Little Ones and the Slow
In the belly of this mountain a sound must be
Negated by the green and brown cover of trees and grass
And they feel it
The grass is vibrating when I touch it
The trees almost tremble as I climb the branches
Like the trembling circle in a chorus of happiness
Or a couple’s first hour
The cello’s first living hall
It is the end of spreading out and leaving
The end of walking over
The time to smooth over what we have
In storms and through the quiet
Of daylight Nightspeech
—by Douglas Pinson