Everything Everywhere All At Once reveals that on the other side of finitude is chaos—and love.
It’s late night, but the room is bright, lit
where a painter works with his back to a window,
its dark panes held by a white wooden cross.
Will he turn?
If he does, will he notice the cross of mullions
that’s been there longer than he?
Will he see
in the glass darkly and maybe
straighten himself a bit?
Will he see through
the glass darkly and startle
to find more than stars? A wavy face
Exercise, observation and contemplation are not mutually exclusive
but may be orthogonal to each other, if I understand that word
aright. I’m trying to walk fast and notice everything and slip
into the poet-trance all at once. Sun and breeze after the night’s rain.
I won’t get far today because somehow I’ve become patriarch of the group,
and even slipping off for half an hour seems a betrayal. But it’s all right,
You could have made the worlds grey & lop-sided
a monochrome for flora sky & sea
but your precision made sure none collided
you framed the tiger’s fearful symmetry
I learn about you from the things you’ve made
although my thoughts are tentative at best
the peace the turbulence both sun & shade
& lean upon your book to learn the rest
But even in your word you speak unclearly
conundrums of both holy wars & grace
I try to make the ways of God to merely
Once you spoke to me—sparrow
whose every glint I know. Now: pain of nothing
hitting heart’s cheap tin. I’m like the overeager
teenager I once was (crushed in puppy love,
whipped, smitten) but for lovesick months
my love’s been unreturned. I rise each day seeking
to be pulse-pierced, thready, ravished
out of hinterland. I’m a beggar for
you, overwintered bear, to come crashing
through wet grass on a beeline for my birdfeeder—
o paw it down
and maul at the sweet seeds.
I grew up hearing the whir, flutter, and occasional clunk of my father’s slide projector in the dining room as he practiced lectures about his latest medical research. To my father, the slide carousel was a trove of precise data, but to me the impression was entirely aesthetic, a sort of mystical veil of eerie blue light punctuated with inscrutable signs, equations, and microscopic details. In my memory, all these translucent images combine, as if layered on top of one another in some infinite palimpsest.
Light from my chosen star will come to me
in morning prayer, but only if I beg,
desperate like the unfortunate I met
yesterday morning, New Orleans 8 a.m.
corner Claiborne and Carrollton.
He lifted both palms up, that’s how I pray
we’re brotherbodies Fate estranged—
I’m sure the stars pray in dazzling choirs
or singly, hands clasped to their chests
like Fra’s angel, kneeling, left knee bent,
facing Mary, supernal light gracing the porticos.
This visit that might have changed the world.
Andrew Pettegree and Arthur der Weduwen try in their impressive but Eurocentric volume.
Of course it doesn’t take all morning
but it could, sitting by the river, hoping
to capture the day on paper as the cartridge
draws slowly, and water sings, and trees
bear witness to the liquid light, fluid and
flowing as the river flows and time flows
and I flow, and ink, flowing, fills the pen
with everything liquid and everything light
so where is my beginning, and where do
Shakeshafte and Other Plays explores the messiness of language and meaning.