Thursday, July 22, 2010

"The Present Is Always Coming Up to Us, Surrounding Us"


Beginning with a Phrase from Simone Weil

There is no better time than the present when we have
lost everything. It doesn't mean rain falling
at a certain declension, at a variable speed is without
purpose or design.
The present everything is lost in time, according to laws
of physics things shift
when we lose sight of a present,
when there is no more everything. No more presence in
everything loved.

In the expanding model things slowly drift and every-
thing better than the present is lost in no time.
A day mulches according to gravity
and the sow bug marches. Gone, the hinge cracks, the
gate swings a breeze,
breeze contingent upon a grace opening to air,
velocity tied to winging clay. Every anything in its
peculiar station.

The sun brightens as it bleaches, fades the spectral value
in everything seen. And chaos is no better model
when we come adrift.
When we have lost a presence when there is no more
everything. No more presence in everything loved
losing anything to the present. I heard a fly buzz. I heard
revealed nature,
cars in the street and the garbage, footprints of a world,
every fly a perpetual window,
unalloyed life, gling, pinnacles of tar.

There is no better everything than loss when we have
time. No lack in the present better than everything.
In this expanding model rain falls
according to laws of physics, things drift. And every-
thing better than the present is gone
in no time. A certain declension, a variable speed.
Is there no better presence than loss?
A grace opening to air.
No better time than the present.

—Peter Gizzi


Tous Les Matins du Monde

Goodness is hard on the body,
a distracted mind unable to doze in fitful sleep.
The dove rattles the mind into thinking
it has a body of thought--complete
& symbolic--the gray feathers perched
outside the pale cut square of silver.
Say then, we belong to that window,
that warble, and suddenly we belong too,
the silver car in the yard, even a tiny silver hammer.
All vehicles of travel
disclose the mind's need to wonder in perfect forms.
Even if the skiffsman don't come to this bed
to rock me to sleep--to wander the tired stones again
and worn teeth we remember to hold onto a world
for this life might not take us the whole way.
That shape of an idea, the concept, or donnée
travels farther than the instrument can register.
The spindle whirs beyond its order.
Something must be moving at incredible speed.
With pure speed I address you, reality.

Peter Gizzi


In Defense of Nothing

I guess these trailers lined up in the lot off the highway will do.
I guess that crooked eucalyptus tree also.
I guess this highway will have to do and the cars

and the people in them on their way.
The present is always coming up to us, surrounding us.
It's hard to imagine atoms, hard to imagine

hydrogen & oxygen binding, it'll have to do.
This sky with the macular clouds also

and that electric tower to the left, one line broken free.

Peter Gizzi


"David Considers His Music" by Tania Runyan


David Considers His Music

There is nothing too wonderful about it.
I pick it up, I play.
Is that not the life of a harp?

I cannot tell why people change
with these notes. Widows lift their tambourines,
children drop their rocks and stare.
Even the sheep look up from the field
as if they know more than they should.
I think I could turn over a rock
and watch the lichen pulse with each arpeggio.

It is ordinary to be amazing.
I don’t try to do anything else.

At times I see the music play before me.
Deep chords become these violet mountains,
heaving from the ground like muscles.
A slow crescendo, the green power of a wave
washing over me, the elation of being small, being lost.

I like to play because I lose my place.
I play yet don’t make anything happen.
I lift the harp as easily as grass sprouts around my ankles,
as olive leaves tumble down my back.

I believe I can carry a violet mountain
on my back. This is not amazing.

You see, I can only laugh when children stare
with wonder. I can’t help the fingertips
that weave my soul around the strings.
There is something that keeps me awake
at the most beautiful hour, the black sky with light
pressing behind it. I cannot stop leaning over
the verge of possibility.

I think my song will fall through the decades
like a muscle of water. I think it will splash
children, widows and rocks. I think I will weave
my soul around the world. Thank you, Lord,
that I will have nothing to do with it,
that I will do it all.



Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I Am Vast, I Contain Multitudes, Etc.


"A man who still has the substance of silence within himself does not need to be always watching the movements of his inmost being, does not need to order everything, since much is ordered without his conscious knowledge by the power of the substance of silence, which can modify the contradictions at war within. Such a man may possess qualities that are incompatible and yet avoid a crisis, for there is room for contradictions within the substance of silence."

Max Picard, The World of Silence


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ontologically Conservative in an Annoying Way

All those children's books about young trains with personal agency...I think they are weirdly didactic, with a bias toward the status quo.

The little engines always end up learning this single lesson: Don't experiment! Stay on the tracks! Try nothing new!



Friday, July 9, 2010

Too Much God


A bird lives in the forest, and does not see the forest. A fish swims in the water, and does not see the water. A mole lives in the earth, and does not see the earth. In truth, the similarity of man to birds, fish, and moles is exceedingly sad.

People, like animals, do not pay attention to what exists in excessive abundance, but only open their eyes before what is rare or exceptional.

There is too much of You, O Lord, my breath, therefore people do not see You. You are too obvious, O Lord, my sighing, therefore the attention of people is diverted from You and directed toward polar bears, toward rarities in the distance.

You serve Your servants too much, my sweet faithfulness, therefore You are subjected to scorn. You rise to kindle the sun over the lake too early, therefore sleepyheads cannot bear You. You are too zealous in lighting the vigil lamps in the firmament at night, my unsurpassed zeal, and the lazy heart of people talks more about an indolent servant than about zeal.

from Prayers by the Lake --Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

About the Cartoon (Previous Posting)


The cartoon is wonderful in itself. But it also makes me think about Eucharist--how there's only one Eucharist, and we all participate in it, in our varied centuries and settings. It's vertigo-inciting, don't you think?


Saturday, July 3, 2010

C.S. Lewis on the Mystery of Schism


from his correspondence with Fr. Giovanni Calabria:

That the whole cause of schism lies in sin I do not hold to be certain. I grant that no schism is without sin but the one proposition doees not necessarily follow the other. From your side, Pope Leo, from ours Henry VIII, were lost men...But what would I think of your Thomas More or of our William Tyndale? All the writings of the one and all the writings of the other I have lately read right through. Both of them seem to me most saintly men and to have loved God with their whole heart: I am not worthy to undo the shoes of either of them. Nevertheless they disagree and (what racks and astounds me) their disagreement seems to me to spring not from their vices nor from their ignorance but rather from their virtues and the depths of their faith, so that the more they were at their best the more they were at variance. I believe the judgement of God on their dissension is more profoundly hidden than it appears to you to be: for His Judgements are indeed an abyss.