Alone in the Universe

In all of Creation, one substance holds not just a key,
But all keys, and if you seek a miracle, nothing could surpass it.
A miracle, you say?
Ah, no, miracles are things of myth, not of reality;
Reality, you say?
Ah, no, none can say I know reality.
Only one thing known in the universe expands when it solidifies.
Thence comes all life.
Should we come to extinguish all that life,
Know that life sprang from no life, and probably will yet again
And with luck, such as we will not be a part of it.

April 22, 2018.

Unintended Dissonance

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.

T. S.Eliot
Burnt Norton

Following along the relentless flow of things to things
I cannot know how Creation can continue careening carelessly
Along an aimless arc approaching all active actuality
With nothing but dissonance.
We want a whole world without witless wonder.
But nothing can be either believed or disbelieved.

Live in the moment we are told. Yet try to perceive that moment
and it is gone. Think of the moment ahead of it,
but when it comes it is gone. Our moment is exactly exact, yet cannot be
experienced. All are alike, so all are one.
This is unintended, and nothing.
Dissonance cannot be expected to explain anything at all.
Thus are we captured.

April 27, 2018

Spider Bites

How can an echo be seen?
Double back upon it and simply look.
From the floor a spider climbs a thread
Yet how can she climb what
Cannot possibly be there? She can make
Her own version of reality, her own
Reified air become web.

Some react to spiders with terror, yet
There seems nothing to fear. Just so do
Many fear imaginings of impossible
Fantasies, conjured who knows how.
Come now, this cannot be. Just as she
Makes actual what we only believe,
Reified into our deepest fears.

Once taken to the breast and conjured,
Dreams turn from fantasy to something
We know must be so. We know it so we
Take it, take it to our own fabrication.
Down in the belly lies what we dread,
There is a thread winding, winding.
We will find it reified soon enough.

September 16, 2019

Ceteris paribus

Roughly, “All things being equal”

A flame burns gently as the evening fire
while the first snow dawdles to the ground.
The red rich wine contains ready answers
to what we profess to think are metaphysical questions.

Outside mighty Jupiter conjoins with Uranus, and
we can see these giants contending for Scorpio’s attention.
Soon Orion will ascend the Winter sky, and
resolve to show the most indolent and careless
how permanence spans kalpa after kalpa.

Yet but crane your head and scan the sky.
Even this must one day dissolve into we know not what.
When Clausius brought the universe to its knees,
upending Newton, the arrow of time was manifest, and God disappeared.
Ceteris paribus.

December 9, 2010.


[D]as Totsein ist mühsam
und voller Nachholn

“It’s very hard to be dead.”

Rainer Maria Rilke
Duino Elegies
First Elegy

Across wide arcs of cosmic comity,
Can time be found to cross and cross?
Next to that fund of reciprocity
None can make resistance. Until
The signs are shown we must yet

How find the sense of how and why,
How come to sense and sense?
My children follow me across the
Binding course of what will be.
And follow.

How hard it is to winnow out some
Feeling from the empty tarnished
Bowl of expectation. Comes out
From labored works or love
A gratitude of time run short.
Following itself.

Can even sages or holy men plumb
Out the bardo of this world? Can
Following be pushed aside, can
What we do be reconciled with
Crossing that river flowing fiercely
And calling us to

I cannot work it to a place of
Common understanding. Cannot
Make purpose follow Totsein. I cannot
But follow.

September 16, 2010


Once, so long ago, one moonless night,
I stood upon an Oklahoma hill
and saw Jupiter tending to his moons,
Callisto, Ganymede, Io and Europa, and
I thought I sensed Galileo watching with me.
The light from so many million miles
away and refracted through my little telescope
had come not from Jupiter, not from the moons, but from the Sun.

The Great Galaxy of Andromeda, M31, a trillion stars two million light years away –
no more distant object in the vast vault of heaven can be seen without a glass.
Greek dreamers three thousand years ago
placed Perseus near to Andromeda to
protect her through countless eons.
Yet they are close at hand.

Two million years ago light sped to Earth
from Andromeda’s galaxy,
two million years before those first
cuneiform tablets set humans on
such a course of folly, that
now we hold ourselves immortal and unique.
On Aztec temples are carved figures of
sacrifice, tribute to an uncomprehending Sun.
Blood spills down through ages, all to force
an unwilling Creation to count us special.
Beyond the ken or sight of any priestly eye,
are nebulae of gas and dust, from which young stars
are formed, perhaps host to planets yet to come
in just a few billion years.
Perversely, dead stars may also end as nebulae,
dispersed into the void ten billion years before even hero Perseus
was thrown into the sky by jealous gods.
What universe can so deceive us, can make us
hopeful or drop us into despair?

That time will come that humankind will be no more
and all our vanities will take their place in the
workings of Creation.
“Vanity, vanity, all is vanity”
said that Teacher of old.
To know that far from now another world, just one
among a numberless throng, will take its chance to cast cuneiform and build temples, perhaps in
harmony with all the universes Brahma blinks
into existence, makes all my fears vanish
into tranquility.

February 16, 2010.
Modified August 26, 2023