Thursday, May 31, 2007


Life is an appetite that is simultaneously its own fulfillment. Nothing is consumed that isn’t transformed and enhanced. And there is suffering and sorrow and everyone’s cup of blood like a low, red, harvest moon is glyphed with appalling cracks as polyp by polyp, thought by thought they glue themselves to the great barrier reef of a creed or doctrine that will lick the bowl of their skulls clean of what remains of the rare human honey that wasn’t ripened by killer bees scarring the door closed the universe left open the night it walked out. I’ve been thinking about the children of Darfur, of Somalia, Pakistan, Iraq, Gaza and the West Bank, of Afghanistan, Congo, Bangladesh, Madagascar, twenty-five million a year left to starve, left slaughtered, diseased, wounded, raped, demonized by a culture of violence, enlisted while the children of North America, of Canada and the United States die of obesity playing video-games that will teach them to wipe out the iconography of random civilizations. And don’t rest on the laurels of your genetic preferences with me when I consider that it isn’t the alpha chimps but only their weapons that have evolved. You brained this village in its sleep with a bone, this one with a missile. One moment the stars were shining brilliantly above clean water in the well; the next, the flash of an orchid of fire and the smell of cordite sweetening hell and the arms and legs of whole families, of children trying to root in the rubble of their homes. Is it a failure of imagination, a lack of empathy or a will to kill so intense, so implacably insatiable you are willing to boil the eyes out of a small girl’s head the same age as your own, blossoming into the seeing, and actually dare to applaud the severity of your abstract political purity, having torn her face from the bough to defend her right to thrive freely in your mythical orchard of light? An exercise: look at your daughter and the mysterious gift that grows within you both like the pearls of her laughter maturing into moons. Look at the size of her hand when she places hers over yours and feel the soft moistness of her skin as everywhere the darkness of your heart and your mind is illuminated by constellations of water-lilies arraying infinitudes of radiant futures. And what summer wind among the willows, sweet with flowers and stars, what stream that ever washed the roots of the wild roses could compare with the luxuriant turmoil of her hair? Blam. She’s a statistic, a number on the news, integrated into an acceptable civilian kill ratio, her blood unribboned on the floor by the shrapnel in her lungs, by the shrapnel that ripped through her skin like petals, by the igneous ferocity of your blind, apocalyptic hatred condoning her death to sustain the brittle integrity of your bloodless abstractions. Or is it that only your child is real and the children of your enemies are shadows? Because you eat as much as you do, children die, your children of excess, their children of want. Because you are so self-indulgently vain feeding rabbits to the snakepits of your ego, children die. The clothes on your back cost more than the annual income of most African families and children die. Your car smeared with the wax of your own reflection is the price of three homes in Pakistan that will never be built and children die. The effluvia of the rage of your consumption accuses and poisons you and the planet, soils the sky and the water and children die. And these are just random flakes of horror from a blizzard of atrocity that the world has become innured to like a great black glacier from one of the polar ice-caps of the human spirit grinding people back into caves and dust; so where is the victory in this evolving catastrophe? It is not enough to walk in paradise by yourself. How can you bend to admire a violet galaxy of September asters while a windfall of children wither like wasted fruit, bruised and wounded by maggots and birds and wasps at the foot of the tree that bore them? I am not trying to arouse prophets, messiahs, sages or holy men to care; I’m not trying to beat the burning bush for a miracle. I am not aspiring to meet the tenets of my own salvation, nor froth these ebbing and neaping tides of emotion into an incommensurable polemic of suffering, nor scald the hammer with self-righteous vituperation because it hasn’t yet repaired the rotten foundations of an uninhabitable planet. Maybe this is just a window I hope to bring to the house so that a young girl can look out into the garden on a bored afternoon and watch the sparrows coming and going from the sundial in the garden, bemused by the whisper of being within her that makes her feel the labour of worlds within worlds robed in every thread of her blood. Aren’t you as sick as I am of the iron eclipses that maculate the generals’ hearts like some black rosary rehearsing the namelessness of the faces they cover with the palm of their hand to eradicate? Why can’t someone bring a threshold, a board, a brick, a nail, someone a stair, a light fixture, a pipe to erect a habitable planet whose cornerstone isn’t quicksand, isn’t a bullet, a dollar, a corporation, the rock of a passing policy thrown through the neighbour’s window because the leaves of their willow fall on your lawn? We can’t even create a grape, a dandelion seed, but how readily we know the mind of God, how easily we bend our deities toward destruction averaging out the crucials and the packaged spin to kill a child in the name of a divinity our ignorance is certain loves us alone. The diamond light of clarity is not a fossil fuel; it doesn’t burn coal to keep warm, its radiance doesn’t eat the bitter, black bread of its own shadows. This planet has always been a loaf in its own oven, yeasted by thermophilic bacteria that have saved it from deflation more than once; their creative potential undaunted by any astronomical catastrophe. And bless the sponsors of life who have lived like anonymous hosts, like good oxygen in every crack and crevice of this house where the guest breaks down the door of his only address and soils the sheets of his wedding bed as if they were the skies over Los Angeles. Are we not dying of our own boorishness, our own lack of planetary hygiene, everyone bilious within, looking for a lance to relieve the chronic agony of the sun rising every day like a spiritual abcess? One part of the body infected, the entire organism convulses in its own poisons. If the stomach begrudges the blood its food will the corpse be consumed by maggots of gold? Selfish in our prosperity, arrogant in our power, dark in the midst of light, a jury of moles condemning those who can see, and everywhere baited cages erected like temples of liberty, the ample pantries of enforceable freedom replacing old mouths with new. Who offers bread to a child threshed from a harvest of bayonets? The world lives under the table we gorge at day and night in tents that bloom in misery waiting for the crumbs that fall like rhetoric from our lips. Who appoints an army of locusts custodians of the field and silo? The biggest liar most forcefully applies the law. Who makes mercy conditional? Jesus broke loaves and fishes to feed the multitudes. We break the multitudes and feed the child to apprentice her innocence to our corruption. Do you really believe the eagle descends like an angel to teach the fish to fly? When there isn’t light; there are shadows but the shadows aren’t the opposite of the light. Where we aren’t there are strangers but the strangers aren’t the opposite of us. Nor is the life of the fly less or smaller than the life of the elephant. Every face in the world is a blossom on the bough of your own tree, every body the fruit of your own bearing saturated in the mysterious light of the moon. The mind of the least is the enlargement of your own being, a palace of pearl in a wilderness of perception where the children throw stars at each other across the river. Among the myriad billions which would you remove; can you point to one whose shining doesn’t enhance the constellation that empowers the beauty of our lives like water? Once we murdered for women and cattle, then God, then the nation; now we kill for the supremacy of a new idea on how to better organize our greed. A candidacy of liars in idealistic bunting fronting their sponsoring powers in a brothel of newsrooms mobs the muse of the truth with their offended hypocrisy and campaigning inspiration. The child must die. And the mother and the father and the uncle, and the grandmother, and the brother, all must die regrettably to make way for the right, must be cherished expendably in the name of principles that never bleed, in the name of systems of thought that consign billions to a higher standard of living in the grave. The only cornerstone of any temple worth worshipping in is the human heart. Who tracks their divinity into someone else’s prayer with blood on their shoes? And how convenient that the obvious issues can be so gigantically inflated that you are impotently paralyzed in the shadow of your own tragic awareness. Do you court the applause of the devious? Only a ghost can exist apparentially. Or would you rather die knowing your life was one long, rational sin of omission? Everywhere we swim in the eye of God like fish or stars sliding across the night, brevities of light and lilies emanating into the darkness that engulfs us like fireflies. Must the fish prove that water exists to swim; the bird suspended in the wind, the sky, before it spreads its wings? The pen rides its own ink like a road, a river, an ice-rink, a skater sharpening the blades of the moon to spray stars across the night, intrigued by what it didn’t know it had to say, secrets it didn’t know it kept, humanizing insights into an intimate intelligence enriching immeasurably the abysmal mystery of the seeing and the silence like a violet whispering under every leaf of thought. Who takes the measure of their measure when they go looking for God or try to assay the unbounded mind that provides them with rulers because it’s always the first day of school for the fish in the water, the bird in the sky. God is human; but a human is not God. Who could separate the water from the moon’s reflection, what net of numbers or concepts was ever woven that the universe couldn’t slip through? One loaf of bread given to a hungry child is a truer form of worship than the loftiest church or the most incandescent oven in hell. And that extra twenty pounds you carry around your waist like an inflatable raft is famine relief for the world should you ever overcome the disgrace of being eaten by your own gluttony, of being dulled by your own indifference to yourself. All humans can be traced back mitochondrially to a mother in East Africa and who knows how she got there, but ignorant of where we come from we’re ready to kill to defend any guess at where we’re going. Imagine every star in the sky ingathered into a giant dandelion gone to seed. Now blow on it. That’s where we’re going in all directions radiantly, every ray of light, every seed the compass in our heels. How can anyone plead that they’re lost when the whole planet rises to meet every footfall and the light shines on everything alike? All is home, and even the rocks are family. Embittered murderously by your selfishness you must drink the poisons you weep alone in the morgue of your mind over the naked body of the child you killed when you weighed her life against your gain and in the balance of your bullshit considered it worth the risk, her eyes in the pan, and all the feeling and the seeing against a barrel of crude. I know you don’t like to hear this; I know you think it’s “depressing”, but the party can’t last forever and believe me I’d rather be out wandering among the starfields with a lover than writing this indictment of the insatiable abyss of our mouths assuming planetary dimensions in the service of the imperial stomach. Even our seeing is tainted with possession. Life isn’t an acquisition. What idiocy to steal what is already yours; what madness to try to pry the flowers open before they’re ready to bloom to insert a bee to make more honey faster. Pleonaxia: good Greek word, the disease of “more and more”; are you a carrier, are you a plague rat, a swarm of mini-black holes descending biblically like a scourge of God upon the wheat, the soil, the air, the water, upon the eyes and hands and blood of children, upon the drawings they pin proudly to their walls that will later fall at a blast of your trumpet? You eat them like music; you eat their silence and their solitude, you eat their dreams and their wonder, you eat their heroes and heroines, you eat the dirt under their feet, and even the space above their heads now that they’re homeless is only another form of mouth grinding the stars down on your molars, the true cornerstones of your evangelical economics. You eat their questions and the amazing clarity of some of their answers. When they ask who you are, what your bedtime lies mean, you eat their listening. You want to own the rain that glistens in their hair, you want to eat their hearts as you’ve eaten your own and own their freedom. You want to lay your cosmic egg on their foreheads like that wasp that lets its young hatch out in the body of the caterpillar, letting it live just enough to ensure there’s food in the cupboard for tomorrow. Invited to the feast you eat the host. But the body isn’t the appendage of the mouth. It’s a bag of water with nine holes in it and we’re always leaking out like rivers back into the sea that shares us with the earth and sky, our lives clouds, rain, fog, snow, steam, ice, dew, mist, lakes; all the stations and joys and sorrows, all the shrines and palaces, all the incredible transformations of spiritually-flavoured water exhilarated into life by its own miraculous flowing. But your holy grails are filled with oilspills, and the wells are closing their eyes in death, and the sea is growing angry, and the sky savagely indignant, and you’re cooking slowly in the sun’s radioactive temper, and even the rain is acidically curdled, flaring lethally like a cobra to sink the toxic crescents of the moon into your jugular like fangs. We haven’t been appointed like a hammer to straighten out the rest of the world as if it were a bent nail. You’re trying to paint fairy-tales on an eye, masterpieces of cynicism on a window, if you think you can convince life to conform to your modes of betrayal. Sooner or later life will come through the back of the mirror you lie to like a wrecking ball, like a planet swinging on a long umbilical cord that’s never been severed from the dark mother that nourishes the light of the most distant star on the milk of her mystery. Ultimately you’re a cannibal, one of the crazed homophagoi who end up eating themselves in their rage and their frenzy, of all their vital organs, the heart the first to go, and then the hearts and minds and hands of the children. Is that you licking their brains off your fingers? Truth doesn’t observe the proprieties, the table-manners you insist upon, the haut caultur of your gullet; who cultivates aesthetic sensibilities on tour in an abbatoir? You unleash the hyenas and jackals, the rabid dogs of war, but while you’re eating you don’t want to see the rabbit torn apart. You don’t want to see the child drowning in her own blood. You want the froth and fury of a good crusade over a power lunch full of papal indulgences for the delegated courage of the slaughter you’re willing to commit to improve the security of your profit margins and the purity of your cause. And the children die. You rape the rose and arouse mass hysteria at the prick of any thorn of the moon that finds your eye. You ape the values of the people, the issues and the polls, all the popular lies, and cover the dungheap of your heart with radioactive snow that glows like your teeth for the camera. Military budgets swell like glands in the snakepit you hold the poor and vulnerable above like a terrified rabbit whose heart is about to explode like a grenade. And when it does, there’s your war cry, your casus bellum, your funereal enthusiasm for agony, torment, grief, hatred, torture, madness, death. And the children die. Your power-base is a throne of mercury that is always shifting under you like your large intestine, that road you want everyone to walk down with you, that noose of serpents you conceal in your stomach or hang above the planet for insisting on an agenda of its own. And the children die. And you claim victory but all you’ve done is humble hell with your hatred and sown the sky-draped coffins of your dead seed in the hearts of those whose only afterlife will grow to disgrace you in the eyes of your own ambitions, to acquaint you again with shame. The other planets in the solar system may be singing along to the music of the spheres, but this one is snarling as the moon bares its fangs at the missile in your hand you’re waving around like a baton. And the children die. And the children die like roadkill. Not having mastered yourself you must rule the world with weapons. The nucleus of every cell in your body usurped by a lie, by a delusion, petrified into chains and spinal towers and skull-castles, your mouth and tongue the gate and bridge across the reeking effluvium of a moat with only one bank, having followed everyone faithfully like salt in a river that dies in a desert of thorns and vipers locking horns with the moon. Disparaging the heart, disparaging love and compassion, severing the heart from your calculations, intelligence degenerates into one absurdity trying to convince another it’s wrong, understanding cannot be transformed by life into wisdom and even salvation, scientific or religious, is not enough of a band-aid to repair the rip in the spirit. If you forget that you are a human and know nothing, if you are unmindful of the fact that you are infinitesimally less than a particle of dirt passing judgment on the universe, and die incomprehensibly like the slightest impulse and glimpse of the mystery of finding yourself quickened into awareness, this self-reflecting wonder of life touching the brevity of the rose like a butterfly, a drop of water running down a morning apple like a comet in a sunset, this sad, little drop of blood that is empowered by love in the eye of so much beauty, you will abort your own divinity. You will lose the way back to yourself as you are, mistaking your own footprints for the tracks of the prey you rise with the sun to kill. Duped by your own emotional indirection, because life itself is the only compass that’s ever been true to us, befuddled by your own conditioned chaos, you will end up looking through a blind telescope for sunspots on the moon. You will condone the death of children anywhere as a measured and reserved response even as the spin-doctors and press-secretaries are publicly wiping the blood off your blade. I know God exists; and I know that she doesn’t. Sometimes the silence speaks to me in a stone voice, sometimes in water. I’ve never intuited she had a religion of her own, but I know there is more than one flower in the garden she tills in the heart. To indulge in selfish joys is to exhaust a small part of nothing. The selfless are a feast of everything, enrolled in the universe like a robe. Regardless of the weather like the sky they are always at peace with life flowing like the stars and the sun into spiritual windfalls of darkness and light. If you forget how to ennoble even the maggot with the radiance of your seeing, you knock the jewels out of your own crown like teeth and the maggot will turn into a dragon. And it isn’t science that bends space; the highest form of our mathematics indentured to a geometry of murder as the armies wait under the desk for improved claws and fangs to maul their way into an old story of glory and gore. And the children die and die and die because you pay lip-service to the echo of exhausted moral values that ring out in the morning like gunshots in a valley where the mad shepherds murder the flocks they were meant to tend. Your moral life is an inflationary adulteration of the coin of the moon you squander on advancing the infinite variety of ways to kill a child. Gold has weight with you; but not bone. Diamonds have weight with you; but not tears. Oil has weight with you; but not blood. You despise the life you seek to rule; and rule by manipulating aberrations as if you were a stripper tempting clarity. You’re disgusted with everything except your own disgust. Is it conceivable just as a child is conceivable that viper of diamond flowing through a coalbin you see as yourself in the mirror as you adjust the ideological double Windsor of your position on the issue, is no more than a maggot in the eye of a star? No man’s, no woman’s, no child’s significance is a career, human suffering is not a natural renewable resource, values are the nails in the boards of the house not a board of directors trying to hammer out a corporate image by lying to the right idols. Death is not a poster-child. Death doesn’t conduct public surveys, and life and death are not the medium or the substance of polls and statistics. The emotion lies to the thought, the thought lies to the idea, the idea lies to the concept, the concept lies to the ideology, the ideology lies to the people and the people aroused emotionally let the lies burrow into their hearts like worms and it comes as no surprise to anyone except the child that another child dies. Who dares to tell God what she thinks? Religion isn’t a lifeboat launched to rescue itself; and wisdom isn’t the means of rationalizing the murderous frivolity of our politics. And I know it’s worse than I could possibly imagine, the horror more inconceivable, and the hells we debate and propose in the name of secure salvations more hideous than the most Satanic aspirations of the deposed nabobs of Pandemonium conspiring against their own afterlives like a genocidal conspiracy of heaven. Do you think the day will come when all other species on this planet will innoculate themselves against us? Do you think God might avoid us as an overly-generous indiscretion she won’t indulge again? And I’m not exempting myself from the homocidal complicity of the chronic distractions of my own selfishness, the North American blurring of reality in the name of the myth that we can inch our way into happiness in a cocoon of smog and emerge with designer wings that are the envy of the angels. When I weigh how much I’ve been given, and how much I’ve taken against what I’ve given back it’s a pathetic gesture of smoke at a feast of shining, hardly the echo of a crumb at the bottom of an empty silo. I can hear the M-l6’s from here; I can hear the AK-47’s going off in the night like madmen trying to shoot out the stars in the eyes of a child hysterical with fear. And even as her voice was wrenched inaudibly out of her throat like a young dove out of its nest mine was composing love poems to a woman she would never become. Everything in and out of existence is the flowering of everything else; everyone’s life, a gesture on God’s face, everyone, everything, the creative collaboration, the engendering expression of everything else, all the being, the meaning, the doing, modes of expression, life making a voice of the silence, an ear of the abyss to make a tree of space and array it with worlds within worlds like a windfall of autumn apples and the green stars they harbour, or a jewel turning in the light of a flame that amazes and gentles the darkness. Life isn’t a rainbow swimming in an oilslick; that’s only a painting that allows us to surmise the artist; that’s only the palatte of the senses we paint with as we have always done since we watched the shadows of the fire dancing on the cave wall and decorated our dead with red ochre around the effigy of a bear. One hand spray-painted on limestone says it all; one flower in the grave, the grief of generations, one atom, the universe. Are you a wedding bell, are you a funeral bell; or do you tear your hair out with the rest of the hired mourners? And where are you going to find a grave big enough or deep enough to bury the cosmos that haunts you like a war crimes trial you’re betting on death to remand indefinitely? Have you improved upon the weeds of the earth, the tares of the field, the chaff of the wind with metal landmines? What crops do you sow you must fertilize with a child’s flesh and blood; what is it you’re trying to say that can only be ghost-written by death? Don’t you know the coursing of your bloodstream is the ink and lifespan of one long sentence that doesn’t begin with a capital or end with a period? What are you writing in the guestbook that’s open for the world to read that isn’t just another cliche trying to redress your last mistake in a wardrobe of lies. Eventually even the play loses faith in its writer and petitions the wind to sever it from the bough like the bad, first draft of an artificial paradise that’s always in blossom. Your ambition is a hydrogen weather balloon, mythically inflated as it rises, the emptiness of a crowd waiting for the discharge of another fool to shoot himself out of his own cannon. Better to fall to the earth ripe and full, a small feast that celebrates the prodigal return to your own gates, better to leave your life as if it were alms on your own threshold, left out for life that will come in the night like a hunger that tastes of you than squander yourself like the fat of your own punitive budget-cuts. Myriad stars: one universe. Many petals: one flower. Many people: one face astonishing its own reflection in everything it sees. What part of your body hoards food against any other part; or does your blood run like a border of razor-wire around a floodlit watchtower surveying your wasteland for hungry poachers stalking your extravagant garden like mice in a glutton’s pantry? So much, so much horror, you say, who can embrace it? and you tuck your wings back into the egg and try to live as if there were no sky. No one asks you to save the world; no one asks you for perfection; which of all the winds that have blown across the planet have gone astray that you’ve been asked to lead back to the way? And there is no need to enforce love with a bullet or a law; no more than water can be turned into sand by law. But if you must have a law let it be that if you opt for war, exalt and profit from destruction, proselytize that war is anything but a failure, you will be buried by your peers among all the hurried, mass graves of the children like the promogenitive ancestor of their deaths. And all for what? For an opinion that isn’t even a ping on the slightest antennae of the most miniscule insect in an immeasureable abyss of billions of stars, each one of whom has laboured collaboratively out of the dark matter of the universe before the beginning to shine in the eyes of a child looking back at them, her heart ennobled by the wonder and the radiance and the immense solitude and rarity of being born a human to look upon her life in the world with awe, to look upon the mystery of being here at all, to look upon this that doesn’t give you pause? These lines are not whips, these lines I write here are not needles in a voodoo doll; no more than a diagnosis is an insult. My appeal is to the future memory of who we once were and of who we might be again if now we were to stop for a moment and turn the light around and see who we are. The rivers are palattes of filth and the sky is a ripped canvas and our wise men bring landmines to the birth of a child crucified in her crib because the spirit of our own teacherless humanity within is maculated like the sun by the filth of our greed masquerading as righteous prosperity. Weapons are the true currency of the world, not money, governments rarely more than a warden elected by inmates, politics the balancing and manipulation of our sanctified hatreds. How many miles must the trucker drive to pay the taxes to buy the bullet that strikes the carpenter’s daughter in the eye? The expulsion from the garden didn’t happen once a long time ago, but happens in every thought and feeling that drives you away from your innate humanity now with a flaming sword and a scowling angel. We’ve even managed to turn the tree of knowledge against its own fruits, all our webs of logic consistent with the spider that wove them to entrap the morning on the vine, one octave of the song, a whole note with eight legs snaring the wings of the others, to dangle their depleted bodies like a rosary of unholy trophies from the staves of your own mesmeric voice drowning out the scream of a child with the percussive lilt and bass runs of our toxic clefs and scales. In Islam the angels don’t visit a town if anyone goes to bed at night hungry. In Christianity, Jesus broke loaves and fishes for the multitudes and turned the water into wine. In Judaism, Yahwah rained manna from heaven. In Buddhism, compassion is the fruit of insight. If life has a law, a unified field theory, it is that you must give to live, you must bring the rain and the seed like the wind, you must open your hand and let the clouds graze on your palm, and not think of your giving as a virtue with an attendant reward no more than you think of the shining of a star as good or bad as it exalts the eyes of all alike. Survival is giving, not taking, the breath returned the breath you gave away. How many planets, how many species can one man eat a day? In forty-four years we will have consumed two and a half planets worth this planet’s natural resources, and if life were to nominate a species for biological justice how we would atone for the genocidal depletion of so much except by eating the tainted scraps of our own catastrophe, sorting the rubbish for a bone we haven’t unmarrowed, not even our tears, clean water? What if the planet itself is alive and aware; what if it’s about to break into conciousness and we’re the expendable prelude of another mode of thought that supersedes our own as the lily exceeds the swamp without judgment or rejection, transforming the rot it blossoms in into a love-letter to the stars. Evolution is not the survival of the fittest. It’s not vicious, not a genetic coercion of chromosomes hung up in the room like flypaper. Our lives are not animated impersonally; they’re not the masks of someone else. Religion is a house of transformation, a chrysalis cribbed from the lakeside rubble of last year’s temples to effect a change. If you don’t emerge with wings while you’re still alive, it’s just another coffin, not a cocoon, or a maggot that mistook itself for a butterfly. Any bullet can turn lead into gold, base metal into wealth, and there’s no victory in theft, but how rare those who can spend the jewels in their roots like water to be a strong vine for a child, tending the blossom, the leaf, the wine. If you can’t feel her smile enlarge the sky, if you are not honoured by her trust when she tells you her secrets, if her future is not the business of the state you espouse, if her return to transcendence is only the name of a river on your map, you are a spiritually challenged human being. Flaunting your wealth in a slum breeds hatred; flaunting the hatred in your wealth breeds war and poverty. Corruption breeds lawlessness; too many laws breed criminals and chaos. Injustice breeds terror and vengeance and ignorance cultivated when wisdom is uprooted like a weed breeds a harvest of nettles that can only be eaten in pain. Sunamis of hatred overwhelm these islands of the human heart we’ve been cast up on out of the great sea of being that urged the first fish to walk, not on the waters, but out of them. On other worlds, from larger frames of reference than the barbed-wire bird-nets of this one, is it conceivable that the arrogance of our technology might be regarded a cosmic disgrace given we spend more on developing a better camera and a faster computer to report the death of our children than feeding, protecting, and guiding them, ensuring the integrity of the sky that blossoms over them, the trustworthiness of the earth that roots under them, the fidelity of the fire that warms them; and truth in the eye of the water that watches over them within like the crown jewels of life. The child you waste today might have cured the cancer you will develop tomorrow. The child you forgot to let live or whose living you abhorred might have led you to that afterlife of tomorrow you don’t deserve today. Administrative, politicized giving is office management, not the impassioned sponsorship of life. If your children screamed against the mute window of a burning house, would your spirit be enflamed by the urgency of acting, might you not plunge into the fire to save them? Or would you reflexively express the global condolences of the officially horrified and appoint another investigative committee to assess what might have been done to wipe their blackened handprints off the glass like the forensic headlines of the toe-tags on the small feet of the twenty-five million children who won’t even make it to a morgue let alone that promised land averaged out of the crucials of your salvationist ad campaigns. Your heart has holes in it, legalistically intricate loopholes tunnelled by the moral worms that make rotten wood of the one lifeboat you religiously manage to spare to save a sinking continent as the water rises around your own feet like an infernal baptism that kills the vine you’re trying to climb up to heaven on. How eloquently the nations have learned to squirm in jargon, protocol and press-releases when rage and atrocity find voice enough to scream above the racket at the trough. Would you starve the oceans, would you inflict a famine of stars on the night; haven’t you felt how the wind has grown emaciate and mean and even the rain burns? But I’m tired of castigating you; I’m weary of my own invective; I want to scrub the obscenity of human lovelessness out of the mouths of my funeral bells and selfless as the autumn sun painting the distant hills with sunlight, lay my head down beside my lover’s like the cornerstone of a spent avalanche. I want to surf the last of the wild asters with a heart and mind as free and light as the harvest of shadows that sports with the wind, I want to unmoor the stars from their brutal constellations gathered like nations and assume a life that isn’t freaked with the black lightning of the next inconceivable catastrophe news flash by news flash compelling me to look at what I am; what you are and how little it matters if a good life is nothing more than disgorging the morning paper out of the mouth of the mailbox while you’re waiting for your toast to pop, happy enough in your domestic zoo you had nothing to do with intensities of pain beyond comprehension. Mired in our own obesity, the mind and the heart spinning our graves beneath us, and nothing but scarecrows at the wheel, eventually turn into a junkyard and a funeral home cologned and flowered with lip-service to the cast-off echoes and rags that litter the streets of our lonely, homeless salvations. Like the muse, God won’t cross your threshold if it isn’t as open and wide as the world, if you ask her to take off her footprints to keep from soiling the reeking sweetness of your carpets with the mud and the blood on her feet, if you gag her with religion and politics, and ask the stars rising over her like hills on the horizon for passports, for ideologically secure i.d. and question her as to the purpose of her visit, she will not enter, she will not whisper your name and call you out of the abysmal silence of your non-existence into the seeing, into inimitable being, into the fountain of light alive in her eyes burning with the joy of creation in a mutual embrace that transfigures the universe. You will not know the black wine of the longing her lips induce, nor the fulfillment of a lifetime in a single second when she appalls your heart with a glimpse of recognition, and deeper than stars and flowers love was never so simple or so easy. Perhaps it’s mercy not to know who you’ve really given up on when you put a child in harm’s way to blood the dance with casualties, to empower the expression of your will to express your will, to authorize death as proof of the surety of your antiquated inspirations. You put the gun to everybody’s head when you put it to hers, the entire world dies erosively in agony when you deny any child the substance of the right to thrive, to grow and learn and see and say what you have too long forgotten in the abject complexity and evangelical frustration of trying to convert the wind to your chains. Do the dead now legislate for the living? Are eclipses enthroned in a palace of light? Does the first crescent of the moon go off like a trigger and the last shoot back? Is there a child in the crossfire torn from a refugee camp like a blossom from an orchard of tents that looks like the earth? PATRICK WHITE