Thursday, August 18, 2011


If a brain cell went looking for its mind

what do you think it would find?

Itself as it were transformed

like the birds in Ibn Attar’s poem?

The same I by which I am God

is the I by which God is me

to pun a little on a Christian mystic?

Would there be a grail

a fountain

a lifting of the veils?

Would I see me as I am

whole and sweet and radiantly enlightened

or just another victim

of P.T. Barnum’s dictum

that no man ever went broke

underestimating human intelligence?

Oudeis aneile peplon.

No one has lifted my veils.

So says Isis the Queen of Heaven.

But maybe the subtlety of it is

no one can

as long as there’s any I am

left about them.

Maybe there’s just a seeing.

No seer.

No seen.

What would that mean?

Spiritual optics aren’t Manichean?

Pure awareness?

But what could taint it in the first place?

We don’t think of the mirror as ugly

because it reflects an ugly face.

And this hall of mirrors goes on forever

like M theory in hyperspace.

Percussive membranes

and resonant strings

jamming with the celestial spheres

when physics turns to jazz

to express the multiverse

like Mingus playing Mozart.

If a brain cell went looking for its mind

what do you think it would find?

A lot of brain cells like it

up in over their head?

Like the Zen master said

looking for your mind with your mind

is like looking for your flashlight

with your flashlight.

It’s right where it’s always been.

The flower is red.

The grass is green.

Or maybe we’re all just watching shadows

on a cave wall

sitting with our backs to a fire

people are passing in front of

we mistake for the whole of reality

while there’s a fully enlightened mindscape outside

we conceive of as madness

as Plato wrote

should anyone care enough

for the future of human awareness

to mention it.

No news is good news

for those who are indebted to it.

Maybe we’re just tiny pieces of a bigger puzzle

and every ant heap

and beehive of our society

is just the way we muzzle ourselves

to keep from stinging each other to death.

Or maybe society’s just the big stone

we put on the chest of the living

as well as the dead

to keep them from rising again?

Why must evil not only be done

but be seen to be done

more often than good?

Why do we treat uranium

with more respect

than we do oxygen?

Is apocalypse more photogenic

or death less camera-shy

than the Big Bang

at the beginning of things?

If a brain cell went looking for its mind

what do you think it would find?

Fourteen hundred and seventy-five c.c.s

of neo-cortical laminations

etched like a Somalian famine

into the parched faces of the good earth

where the Garden of Eden

has turned into a black market

as a sure sign of an advanced intelligence?

Three and a half pounds of starmud

left here like a Martian cowpie

when the cow jumped over the moon

to graze like methane on the ozone?

One half the world is grass.

The other half are grazers.

Control eating and you control the world.

Withdraw the food from a child’s mouth

like foreign aid

saving thirty pieces of silver

and hope that her blood and flesh

turn into the bread and wine

of the bleeding heart that’s sent to save her.

Martyrs are a dime a dozen these days.

And messiahs come and go

like the internecine factions of a holy war.

If a brain cell went looking for its mind

what do you think it would find?

A secret stash of C-four

inside the skull

wired like a nervous system

to the occipital wavelength of a cosmic detonator

attached at the waist of a judas-goat

waiting to blow the ideological roof

off a school house learning to read

the writing on the wall

as a sure sign from God

that when he embraced

an intelligent design to the universe

in the form of a human

he embraced it

like a terrorist embraces someone

armed to the teeth by the same religion.

Who could have guessed

an opposable thumb

would one day be replaced by a trigger?

You figure?

If a brain cell went looking for its mind

what do you think it would find?

Chaos in bed with the Cosmos

like Venus and Mars

making a cuckold

of high technology

with a bad limp

and horns on its head?

The Taj Mahal or Hitler’s Bunker?

Though we prize it to death

what if consciousness

is of no value whatsoever?

Without purpose or meaning or worth

anywhere in the multiverse?

Merely the slurry and foam and froth

of a creative process it plays

little or no part in

except as something that needs to be disposed of.

Something is happening here Mr. Jones.

But you don’t know what it is do you?

A shoreless thought wave

trying to break into light

on the coast of its unending homelessness.

A bad dream that kept space awake

the night before the Big Bang

said it was time to rise and shine.

If a brain cell went looking for its mind

what do you think it would find?

The rock that struck Goliath in the head?

Or the black meteorite they kiss at the Kaaba?

The philosopher’s stone

or the Zen asteroids of the Buddhists?

Maybe something heretofore unknown

so intimately precious

and immanently radiant

it eclipses its own seeing

in the blaze of its being.

Or a realm of dark boundless hyperspace

so sensorially incomprehensible

we don’t realize

that with every blink of our eyes

with every breath we take

and let go of

with every thought

with every gust of feeling

we’re making waves in spatial membranes

like fireflies caught in the curtains of insight.

Cosmic eggs that break out of their shells

like atoms and eagles

and expand their wingspan into new worlds

like the brainstorm of bubbles

that follows the flash of lightning

that sets them free to be what they want.

It’s amazing what you can lose along the way

in the ardent pursuit of something else.

Your mind for example

until you begin to suspect

that it’s your seeking

that lost touch with it in the first place

and all you’ve done since you set out

to find it

is ramble on

like a long unanswered letter home.

So much scar tissue

for such a little wound.

Maybe there’s something worse

than not being blessed or cursed with a mind

that isn’t smooth or rough

sweet or sour

light or dark

loud or silent

big or small

and resembles nothing so much

as nothing at all.

Even to be a puppet

sitting on the lap

of an unvoiced intelligence

speaking through us

to a nameless audience

that hangs on every echo

as if they’d said it in the first place

might be better than posing a riddle

that baffles the Sphinx

with the way time thinks about things

like a human with stars in its eyes

that even the most bitter tears can’t wash out

nor all the facts in the world

cast doubt upon.

Maybe we’re just a shadow of space

with no place in the scheme of things

try how we may to deceive our wavelengths

they’re the warp and the woof of the weave

and not the stray threads

of our unravelling bloodlines.

Maybe the pointlessness of our existence

means there’s no capital at the beginning

so no one can pretend

that where they started from

and where they wound up

isn’t the same open-ended theme of life

that can’t be wounded at the beginning

and doesn’t need to be mended at the end.

Maybe the absurdity of believing in nothing

is the creative opportunity of a lifetime.

Maybe one day Sisyphus

just rolls his rock up over the hill

because there’s nothing predictable about cosmic laws

and the ongoing success of his happy descent is effortless

and worth so much more in the endless effect

of finding himself free of his drudgery

than the cause would have been

if it were not lost upon him

from the boundless beginning.

Maybe longing and seeking

the enlightened fragrances

of flowers and stars

blooming in the moonless night wood

is the way life seduces us deeper

into the darkness of being

the only living witness of our solitude.