The Real Deal

And—I'll build you pictures
of buildings and houses 
made from pictures of concrete
and lumber and steel

With pictures of landscapes
and driveways and basements
and pictures of neighbors
to round out the deal

I can picture a dog
and a fence and a lawn
some kids playing tag
for that down home appeal 

And—I'll sell you these pictures
for pictures of money
then you'll own an estate
you can picture as real

The very first entry in Merriam-Webster’s definition for the word real is: “having objective independent existence.” Most of the other definitions have to do with authenticity as in ‘not fake or fraudulent,’ or variations to cover real property, or real income, and so on. But the meat of the subject has most to do with, ‘occurring or existing in actuality,‘ and herein lies my minor obsession. Our experience in the world is entirely subjective and all notions of objects occurring or existing in actuality is by way of the great and mighty presumption that they actually do. This is the crux of all the sciences and philosophies, not to mention our everyday experience of just being here. Things being as they are, we really have no choice, do we?

Science tells us that things are made up of atoms and atoms are made up of 99.9% empty space(1). Rectify that when you stub your toe in the dark on the way to the toilet. Things made up of mostly space ramming into other things judged empty by the same measure, but somehow result in calamity. Does this sound right to you? I’d put on my Karen hat and demand to see the manager, except there isn’t one. Okay, God. But when subpoenaed to testify, God will have to say under oath that He didn’t do it. You did. It gets more infuriating the more you think about it.

So if things aren’t justifiably called real, then what do we call them. Unreal? Of course not!(2) That makes no sense whatsoever. It is understandable though that we tend to plaster over these paradoxicalities with word play. What’s a mother to do?

~~~

(1) What’s worse is that the .1% of an atom that isn’t empty space is not solid stuff either, nor does it behave in ways that make sense in terms of everyday physics. I don’t know how physicists don’t end up in padded cells. I am grateful for the work they do though.

(2) I just used another from my lifetime limit of exclamation points.

I, Madness

I host little parties for
the ants and the flowers and we
talk and we talk, for hours and hours
the madness can’t vex us in the way
it does some, it follows and listens
to the songs that we hum.

And we forget everything that we
hear and we say, the minute we hear it
all giggled away, and that’s how
we roll, we won’t let a madness
become such a thing or take
hold, like a sadness.

Existendencies

I’m accused of believing in deities
like an irrational dummy, while
the material world in every direction
teases our intellects into a
puzzle-solving mania, clamoring
for the victories of knowing
and having known.

Happily, these elaborate conceptions
serve as a handy basis for making
offerings to the deities.

And they do supply the
handholds we’ll need, if we’re
determined to get a grip.

Beyond that, I don’t much bother
with ‘that is’ or ‘this isn’t’
unless I have to.

Every conclusion is a
leaf on the winds of inquiry.

Ephemeral as a raspy little fart.

What All

or, real as a
boulder clutched by five
hundred-year-old roots
in the fluid of a mountain’s
gradual crest

or, our own
skeletons remain
clutched by continuity
in the fluid of a moment’s
gradual assumption

assume rise
crest fall, and
what all

Being There

a thing thrown in your face
so come back quick

jump, lurch, twist aside
the snap of teeth, a happening

elsewhere, the future is collapsing
into the past, but your name

it never comes up

Externality TV

we sentient beings
following our impulses
meeting and parting

~

enchanting display
conjoined with experience
sterile, yet pregnant

~

externalities
are appearance as the mind
they do not persist

 
 
 

(illustration by me, 1990s)

Gnawing

Understanding is alright
as far as prisons go, though

not understanding is better
than misunderstanding.

One foot follows the other.
Once movement is begun

it is difficult to stop,
hence, the strange treasure,

the halting dissonance of
“I don’t know.”


Knowing things obviously is fine and necessary. The insight of the East is that attachment to knowledge as the vehicle of truth is an error. We gnaw at what we know. We can never leave well enough alone. Is truth something that would submit to such nonsense? Consensus maybe, but consensus is just an agreement to stop arguing. To stop gnawing.

Photo: my old bird-feeder, nay rat-feeder.

Lake After Lake

a lake is just a lake
lakeness is the burden
you carry from lake to lake

(man with a floppy hat
covered in fishing lures
—what will he do next?)

so when you see a lake
you don’t really see a lake
you see lakeness and then say “lake”

(launch the row boat
see the lily pads hoola dance
in its wake)

lakes are empty of lakeness
they’re not even really lakes
they’re just “that”

(a child points and says “that”
it could be anything
—a bullfrog maybe?)