Pure signal.


Opening the heart center or
to come to the heart or
heart coming

or looking outside of yourself (just a peak)
to take on the feelings of others.

One method to be sure
in Malibu when you see, from
the perch of your air conditioned Mercedes
calf vagina leather seat
that someone wants the parking space
in front of your yoga salon
so you go round the block one more time
Yanni in the CD changer
praising yourself for not jumping in front of him
even though with 10 cylinders of gasoline powered Viagra
that motherfucking parking place was yours
if you wanted it, but man
you are working on opening your heart cakra
and you put his needs ahead of your own.

And good on you.
No really — what you did was better than
just grabbing the place — we aren’t taking that away from you
and even though you mistake the feeling
of smug self satisfaction
that you indulge
over coffee, in the elevator, in any pause in conversation
as captive audience after captive audience
hears from you about self sacrifice and eastern religion
and whole foods and global warming
for the rest of the day
even though you mistake your pleasure in hearing yourself talk
for the actual opening of the heart cakra itself. It’s OK.

Forgive yourself! Self congratulations feels a lot like enlightenment.

And after all you did not see
for just one second
that person in the other car
as an opportunity or a threat.
And that is good.

But that is different from looking into
the vacant eyed man at the bus stop
working the dead end job
illiterate or almost so
saving for his retirement not knowing
that he has cancer
grinding out year after year in a loveless marriage
with a dim sense that a reward is coming
to replace the few bright days of his youth as they grow blurry and dim
and how before he can cash in his 401k he will fall to metastasis
and a confusing whir of medical personnel and machinery
and grudging visits from a resentful family and too soon
(oh, too soon… because even this you can get attached to)

A nothingness without a hint of redemption or satisfaction or glory
just a painful petulant question mark
extending and fading
and gone.

There is a certain terrible beauty in that.

Talking to a friend of mine I said:
“You just have to let go of her, man.”
And he said
“I can’t.”

We all know what he meant — it has become a popular rejoinder
to the kind of bubble gum religiosity which spends itself
on surrendering parking places
and lectures on whole foods.

“I can’t.” surrender obsessions.
“I can’t.” surrender sin.
“I can’t.” surrender the pain that makes me so important.

When you see the terrible beauty
of the sad dying man at the bus stop
you will never say “I can’t.” again.

Because it isn’t true that you can’t,
what is true is that you must.

Because whatever bothering you right now is nothing.

You are that man
and first you are going to lose everything that you love,
and then you are going to die
and that is terribly exquisitely beautiful.

Don’t miss it.


July 20, 2008 - Posted by | Poems

1 Comment »

  1. Another incredible poem James. Is this the one you read at your last reading? Any readings coming up?

    Comment by Holly | August 17, 2008 | Reply

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