Saturday, December 19, 2009


There is no freedom from law, there is only freedom through law.
--- Hegel

How will you get there?
In the club car of an overnight train perhaps,
a cup of hot coffee in a cardboard tray,
seeing little but reflections
in the windows made mirrors
by the transient seam of severe light
stitching through the vast drapery of darkness
that is nothing
but earth's shadow.

In the wicker basket of a hot air balloon?
Its garish colors bulging above
rolling hills of shaggy meadows and the occasional elm,
a skein of judgmental geese eyeing
you as they pass, otherwise
the flame-punctuated silence
where you float in the invisible
alone, one giant step
away from solid ground and
fatality. Or perhaps in the industrial
precision of an economy
four-door with a full tank, recent oil
change, tires at manufacturer's recommended
inflation, the continent's roads like root hairs
captured in the folded pages of the atlas,
the broken rear window
defroster sometimes clouding the towns behind,
while rhythmic lost loves and ever-recent
disasters emanate from the radio's electromagnetic
ether, the vibrations of the interstate traveling
up the steering column to your ever-vigilant hands.

And, given how, one wonders, when?
Before or after work, or, might one dream,
during? Will the time be measured in the ink
stamps of alphabetized punch-cards,
the programmed surveillance of keystrokes at computer terminals,
the wrinkles of skin pressing into foreheads,
pit sweat melting into work shirts,
or be transmuted by engineered genetic alchemy
into a softer currency of diapered babies on their backs,
tiny toes kicking air into whispers
of dance? Will it be
returning to a near or distant past ---
buffalo hunts and armor-mounted jousts,
initiation rites in torch-lit caves,
gladiators battling in imperial
stadiums, texts being transcribed
in the solemn tranquility of monasteries ----
or advancing toward a limitless
future, weightless in earth
orbit, never a cloudy day or
a hint of rain where,
standing on our heads or climbing the walls
effortlessly, sorrow is
as forgotten as the blue of the sky
we are outside and above
or the reason anyone ever listened
to Billie Holiday.

And last, the question of where?
Hyperlinked to 10,000 symphonies and
a million sonatas, a mouse-click
away from the entire history
of radio and tv. Or,
escaping the middle
decks of the middle passage, the rank
putridities of slobbered mucous
and the ptomained slime of decaying corpses,
with decks too tight to turn over in sleep,
released onto shores of the first great
democracy, dedicated to the self-
evident ideal of human equality. Perhaps
in some multi-acre casino
where bustiered women with bunny tails
serve around-the-clock intoxicants to patrons
wagering ocean waves of cash in games
where chance is guaranteed
to be against them.
Or, almost too easily,
with no vehicle but the mind,
no time but the present,
no place but what you hold in your hands,
astonished when suddenly,
like a poem, you find it,
coming from inside.

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