One of my absolute favourites:
by Albert Goldbarth
4:30 a.m. with the woe adding up
in notches on your gut-wall,
guilts, indignities, whatever, there's no sleep,
you're bright, you "keep up", you know what's what, but
this isn't the time when you want to know everything's nothing
but some few subatomic elements skeetering
through emptiness, what seem the solid edges of things
are haziness of particle give-and-take and "really"
must look like continual maelstrom, and people you love
are whole new sets of cells each 7 years - no,
that's all fine to know but now you simply want
to walk with some dignity to the shed, and
press your forehead to the russian olive there, its trunk
unyielding, a thing not you but able to texture you,
a hardness to hold to, a firm true specific event.
Zen and the Art of Computer Management Systems.
Holistic Bioengineering: A Home Cassette Series.
Alternate Consciousness and Corporation Profile - A Symposium.
By now it's no secret: scientific method,
the Newtonian/Cartesian paradigm, isn't hauling ass
and soul in happy tandem very well. And so
(as one book says) "to use an obvious example," war
we calibrate down to the leastmost ladybug's waist-sized
chainmail link and up to megaton trajectory, we
artfully assemble, Trojan H and H-bomb, but
what makes us make war, what demanding psyche-ghosts
howl down the spiral staircase
of our genes - "we are no closer to this
understanding now than, say, in Hellenistic times." They
had Lysistrata. We have biofeedback and we have Lysistrata.
We have biofeedback. We know there are levels
where light’s too large to land, so "being" anything isn’t
being visible or countable - levels where dream is
logic, levels where you could fall lost in the space
between your own hand and its shadow. Maybe a God,
even a God of terrible vengeance, is less frightening
than floating through physics. The God says:
Here are boundaries; this and this are real, this not.
The God says: Things actually do add up. We love
to add. The name of Allah was 26,000
times stitched into a 16th century Turkish warship's pennant.
There are an estimated 4 million mummified ibises
in an Egyptian labyrinth offered unto Thoth.
We love to tally. The rosary's abacus beads.
The first worked stones were scored.
It was nearly dawn when I found you. By then
you were calm. The tree had punished you or healed you
or simply been a symbol of something reliably
beyond the tormenting refinements of human confusion.
Your skin was moire from the bark - your sadness,
leached out by that contact. I led you back
into the house. Or you could have been leading me - that's
not the point. I knew we can't approach the universe
as if its secrets were quantifiable, not any more. And even
so, I know we all deserve the reassurance
of weight and number, perimeter, durability. Some
days both of those opposing knowings pull, and early
sun in a slant through the basketball net
mandalas the shed - my eyes can spin in there,
electronwise, wholegalaxyclusterwise, and not be wiser.