Friday, January 07, 2005

"Antidote to Vanity" is a poem dealing with people who have been displaced due to war or natural disaster (the tsunami comes to mind), and who have been living in limb -- sometimes decades. It is also a meditation the writings of a 5th-century Buddhist monk who lived in the Sri Lanka / India region, who suggested strategies for undesirable mental states -- attachment, desire, etc. This is a concept that is usually misunderstood. Think before judging.

Bones poured like wax gone bad,
I descended into the fire; my personal fear comes alive
in this ravine curling sidelong the highway

flames leap from the asphaltic shale
an artesian well of fire

I think Johnny Cash & Zarathustra;
did my dad & Nietzsche have so much in common?
Ring of Fire & Self-Overcoming –
gales cannot extinguish this blaze of glory
& associated smells; Oklahoma oil in a jar from the Hunton formation
my dad talking about the well near the Wynnewood refinery
& my brother sneaking charred hotdogs off the backyard grill

all the while, I'm here in the Absheron Peninsula, knowing
I’ve been here before; many times

We are nearing an ancient temple
Zoroastrians worshipped this same eternal flame
two thousand years ago, muffled by paisley carpets

Good vs. Evil
weavers repeated flames with brilliant wool and silk
in infinite tones of scarlet, burgundy, & simple red

thousands of miles away, my aunt served her daughter's wedding cake on silver
saved by an uncle who said Berlin was like Dresden –
fire bombing was a terrible way to discipline a city
some streets burned for days, asphalt ignited
where water had been long supplanted by dirt & defoliated dreams

my heart burns
my head erupts in paisley

just that small fact that history changes
but the same earth burns
the true good is in the flame itself
purity comes from the inner core of fire

thousands of years, we sometimes discover the ancient truths
sometimes not –

it’s just that now I see the way history was & will always be…
& my bones weep
like wax
passed close to the flame