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.

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.

how galaxies form

Something on the tip
of the universe’s tongue
no more than an unclaimed
memory: a vanished recollection
that picked up a few

carbon atoms, like sticky-burrs
on its pant leg, on the way
through some asteroid belt

where it began to accumulate
the stuff of it, mass, hording
the entire periodic table
and packing every room
to the ceiling with it, no order
to it, no time to sort it out
the spiral arms of a neglected hallway
closet, packed full and slinging
merciless gravity waves

like a kleptomania of the cosmos
or, something else, it’s just on the tip
of everyone’s tongue

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?)

Whistle

the curious idea of
a dream within a dream
occurs to clever thinkers
safely outside of the dream-time conundrum

and fixation requires
a reliable point of reference
or, by golly, we will
panic and make one up

it’s easy to whistle, though
just put your lips together
and blow