Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Poem by Rick Hartwell

Sun-filled firmament above, God’s or god’s or gods’filaments of
Sentient creation: an exploded view of double helixes entwined
Like strands of twisted wind chimes. Iridescent incandescence of a
Billion, billion votive candles illuminate the dark night of a cosmic soul.
Far beyond, those to the east of Eden, expelled by whim or chance,
Fancied to have transgressed His or his or their law, await the
Wanderers from the west, bounty hunters in search of quick payment:
Wanted dead or alive. Thoughts search for quietude, conflicts of
Faith versus reason, taking vows to listen deeply, living life of
Open monasticism. We only live in the partial present; our
Vision is not sufficiently clear to see the real truth of the future
Until it becomes legend or myth or the history of the past.
I am the heart of my own soul, the soul of my own limited life, so
How will I apply what I know, what I think, and what I feel, to what I do?
Surrounded by life, but sunk in thoughts of death, ultimate duality of
Existence, yin and yang, universal wholeness, purity of balance of
Every birth, whether of suns or souls. Duality has acquired a bad name,
Which seems unreasonable considering the obviousness of the point and
Counterpoint of births and deaths. My view this morning, my local Tibet,
My eternal mystery mountain, hidden in the fog of my ambiguity,
Reinforces my mental Shangri La. I await weekends in order to putter
Around in the garden, play in the elysian fields of my dreams, and
Yet am often disappointed with an uncooperative Eden. Narrowing
My personal worldview is not a restriction, but rather a focusing
On that which is universally important. A hereafter? A there-before?
Time is a murky application of geometry to psychology, like rays
Starting from a point definite in space, extending outward, linearly,
Indefinitely, to infinity. Time, too, must travel forward undisturbed,
But as we all know, such is not the case. Time folds and wraps back
Upon itself, crisscrossing its own axis of travel until the mind rebuses
Inside out, duplicating in thought what it couldn’t play in fact.
We have all encountered this duplicity of time; facts have lied to
Memory and the reality of recollection has been subverted by the
Truth of actuality. Parallel lines of non-Euclidean duality
Cross and double-cross until the rug burns of personal myth
Form protective scars of fact. I am continually drawn back and
Back and back yet again, lured into this theological introspection.
In the final analysis, perhaps this is, in fact, the soul –the search
Rather than the discovery, the quest rather than the prize!
What if all the sins confessed to a priest, of whatever caste,
Become his burden to carry forward into a hereafter? He then
Becomes the urn of all transgressions, buried on behalf of all
Others. We reside in a universe of excesses and infinitudes, for
Without this surfeit the natural winnowing of life that approaches
Zero would reach its nadir, life would collapse in upon itself.
To count the grains of sand or cores of pollen; to number the
Stars or the distances between them; these are the activities of the
Damned: the ultimate hell of science without sense or sensitivity.

Rick Hartwell is a retired middle school (remember, the hormonially-challenged?) English teacher living in Moreno Valley, California, with his wife of thirty-six years (poor soul, her, not him), their disabled daughter, one of their sons and his ex-wife and their two children, and twelve cats. Yes, twelve! He believes in the succinct, that the small becomes large; and, like the Transcendentalists and William Blake, that the instant contains eternity. Given his “druthers,” if he’s not writing poetry, Rick would rather still be tailing plywood in a mill in Oregon.

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