A Response to Devon Price on Existentialism

(In view of the Colorado FlatIrons)

He writes of 19th and 20th century existentialists
as proponents of
“life is material
humans are not special
consciousness just happened
reality means nothing
there is no God
there are no souls
the world does not make sense
we create God(s) and morals
and standards and other false selves
as a judgemental hell of other people.

I am only authentic
when alone and private
to be the true slob I really am,
a liberation that eventually
feels like being dead.

Purposes are meaningless,
higher values can’t be embodied,
we can’t escape death so
we live in low key dread
devoted to immortality projects
like babies, tombs, marathons,
afterlife, trophies, sick tricks,
checking off lists, all
a burning need to keep going.
Order results in absurdity.
Artful absurdity can provide comfort
when life is a lot like death,

so it is just another immortality project.
We keep thinking we’ve got shit
figured out,
filled with power and usefulness
and most vibrantly alive
as we slip into the flow.
I am the universe’s chump
chipping away
at the big decaying nothing.
It is absurd.
It will never bring me peace.
I am alive for now, and
I do something with the time
I have left.”

Apart from the dishonesty of believing
one can truly judge life as material
or immaterial, or determine man
created God, or I can know who
I truly am without butting up against
a whole universe, or that
19th and 20th century society is the
proxy of human life over
the past 200,000 years
and the next 200,00 years,
and not just a few hundred poxy
years of transition from the
agricultural age to another age,
or that dead is a dread
because it occurs like a moment
of all our sufferings compressed into one
severely painful destructive event
rather than the blissful relief of complete
rest.

Apart from that, the existentialists
have turned to show the other side
of the coin to the side that shows
the bust of Moses, Krishna, Zarathustra,
Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, and
Baha’u’llah whose simple mantras
“You are living life as if what you see
is real, and you see so little of it.
To see the rest learn to be love,
to find a contribution to each other,
to make everyone’s life better,
and that’s your business
so go mind it.”

Not so that you will see the rest
of it, but that you will see,
like the existentialists, the bullshit
of your immortality projects just as at
the same time, they are access to your
highest values, and, as they comfort you,
they might show you that the edges
of the mortal room are simply heavy brocades
taunting your curiosity, just as the art
on those same brocades testify that a
grammatical mind is unable to penetrate
the gloom and a whole new consciousness,
something prayerful, sincere, loving,
and absurd is required

VERTIGO

Poem written after hiking Bryce Canyon, USA, with it's turret-like formations and steep path drop-offs.
Bryce Canyon, USA

It stands me in the rubble
back to the cliff wall
over the deep wide vista
of crumbling turrets and spires on
hundred’s feet high towers
with the frozenness of a rabbit
caught in the headlights
straining to lift
the suddenly heavy camera
to my eye and shoot
a hundred amazing images
that I could barely take in
until vertigo
sets my eyes robotically
on the narrow path
up the mountain side,
hiding the whole world
and the falling down through space,
behind me.
God i resent it.

POISON

an open barn, screened,
waist-high grassland
and scattered trees.
young japanese people
chattering, walking along
a track, expected.

a hooded snake rises
above the grass
“move on!, I cry out,
“there’s a brown snake!”
thinking, “It’s not a brown
snake”. in dread, not a simpleAndyCapp
one-bite-can-kill-you snake
an evil thing all hooded
and domination
and resentment
and persistence.

it turns on me, flying now,
slamming into the screen wall.

two existences
surprised and not
at once I retreat
to the grassland
seated on my arab pony,
“Oh there you are.”
riding as we used to
bridle, no saddle, cantering
pony puffing, so unfit,
back to the people.

rolling up to the bitter-sweet
memory of my long dead pony
poisoned in his paddock,
the kettle on,
Lidia visited.

LidiaZamenhof
Lidia Zamenhof

refused by the USA
on tour of her father’s
conversation in peace,
some excitement
a moment in the sun
an itch on the nazi skin
scratched, released,
so many ways out.

“I must die
I must stay
grant our sufferings
a better world.”

last seen on the train
to Treblinka
poisoned
found in my kitchen
riding out of the grassland
on my arab pony.

I Am A Dancer I

(MY MOTHER DIED Aug 29 2018)BOLD_Owen_07

friends
(most are women)
have told me,”you think
too much”, “you ask
to many deep questions”,
“You’re a bit weird”
“not like most men”
I’ve always felt
that was up for discussion,
obvious.

I’m a dancer

my mother died in August.
we had an awkward relationship

I like science fiction.
I’ve always wanted to understand
quantum physics.
I heard that Albert Einstein’s
theory was proven
in the trenches of WWI.
and before that you needed
a graduate degree to understand
the physics of the universe.
and since that E=MC2
is understood by highschool students.

I’ve wanted to translate
my knowledge
into simpler formulas
for easier relationships.

I’m a dancer.

When I was 16
I watched my mother storm in
pick up a length of wood
and head my way.
A quiet voice
stood me up
and commanded
unflinching resolve
I held her eyes
she brought it down
on my shoulder.
‘Maybe it broke’
My father quiet
to my resolve.
“Don’t hit your mother.”

I walked 20 miles
through the night
to see a nun
in a convent
avoiding car lights
on country roads
I arrived at dawn
I waited until 7
I was hungry
She made me tea.
I told her my story.
She asked me if
there was anything
else.
I was 16
I was devastated
I was steel
I was the wolf
scouring forest trails
I said “No”
I got up to go.
She said, “Goodbye”.

I went to university
and studied physiotherapy
and asked deep questions
and joined the Baha’i Faith
and the new earth order
and that was a bit weird
and even there,
still not like most men
and not like most women.
and married
and begot 3 sons
and spent some hours
each week helping
on my father’s farm
and burning out at work
and getting fired up
and for fifteen years
taking holidays
to have conversations
with politicians
about rural health

I saw a signpost
Performance Community
and something glimmer
in the distance
like a bright new
city of the future
and took that track

I’m a dancer

These past 14 years
I’ve had lunch with my mother
and father, or coffee
every week
helping around the farm,
being frustrated with them
finding a way to accept
no apology
finding a way to say,
“I love you.”
finding a way to tear them
away from their farm
his workshops,
her orchards.

In his dementia
in a house in town
my father remembered
“that bloke came around again”.
he fell and broke his hip
I sat with him in emergency.
He said, “It’s time”
I glibly, “Time for a cuppa?”
He gave me a sour look,
a ‘fuck off’
I felt I’d disappointed him.
He died.

There’s not much for a wolf
in a modern society
– pickings at the edges

I don’t know whether
my mother knew
I am a dancer.

My mother died in August.
We buried her in September.
Her friends noted to me
how lovely she was
to be with.

Sadness tinges
I didn’t forget
not to go around for lunch
or coffee.

 

TRAIL OF TEARS

Chattanooga_Tn_0264

Are we ever able to accommodate
or are we only ever
going to grab our chance
to forge a trail of tears?

Did it matter at all that
the Celts were over-run by the Romans
(who am I?)
or that the Cherokees were / are
put out by the new world
Americans?

We have museums to our dismay.
Museums that tell pithy stories
for children
so that adults don’t need
to grow up.

The stories have to start long,
long ago in paleo days
the longer away the better
so far across time that our
hearts don’t even care
when confronted by the
living museums nestled by
the graves of the survivors
taking a tourist
dollar to keep old craft alive.

So lovely.

The stories have to finish with
the proud image of ones who
made it good in the world
where the tears have all dried up
on sculptured faces near casinos.