Cassandra

On a Saturday afternoon,
running through the busy streets,
a lunatic screams:

“On the far side of the desert,
there lies the open!”

The crowd listens,
forced from inattention
to focus on this strange woman,
who’s voice reaches them all
regardless of their distance.

For a second
she holds herself still;
though she’s a physical presence
her appearance
is not settled:

she is a synchronous image
of the terrifying
& sublime.

Then, she begins to speak again,
her voice softer now,
but no less loud:

“Between the desert & the open
there is an ocean!
It is up to us,
& us alone,
to construct the bridge
which will allow us to pass over
the unfathomable darkness
that lies deep beneath the water.”

Throughout the crowd ripples a deep unease,
an undercurrent stronger than the sea:
she disturbs them,
this woman
disrupting the process of consumption.

All they want is to be left alone so
that they can purchase objects & atone
for the sin of wanting
what cannot be bought, but
they’ve been taught will save them
if only they try hard enough.

She senses this,
attuned as she is
to the hostility of others:

she is speaking to the distance.

“We can be deceived by belief
in what is not true, but
we can also be deceived
by not believing the truth!

Yet to acquire that which we desire
first we must suffer
that which we fear cannot be endured;

& we need to do it without knowing
the possibility of success, because
live must be lived forwards yet
can be only understood backwards.”

Confused by this disturbance,
annoyance spreads like a spore through the crowd;

some cease to listen, while others
throw out angry words
only to find them return
as words of shame
generated from a place
they never knew existed;

some in the crowd are transfixed,
but the woman doesn’t know this,
accustomed as she is
to rejection.

These silent admirers remain hidden,
lost to anxious thoughts
about what the others might be thinking.

Her message finds a motion of it’s own.
Now, even she isn’t sure what she means,
only that it needs to be said:

“The bud unfurls into the blossom”
she says, as she somehow produces a flower
& rolls it between her slender fingers
“just as this” – & suddenly the flower
becomes a ball of paper – “will unfold
into what it has always been, but now
has also changed.”

The anaesthetised audience walks away,
but the attentive stay
& begin to approach this strange creature.

Suddenly she becomes desperate:

this wasn’t supposed to happen;
she doesn’t want disciples,
only for people to listen.

“The present must die
for the future to live;
the music is always playing
& if you do not dance
then why continue to exist?

But however well we dance
death will still persist!”

Soon she is surrounded by questions,
& having no answers, she makes her exit.

She leaves her follows with a final message,
& then, impossibly, suddenly
disappears.

“The tyrant dies
& their rule is over; the martyr
dies & their rule begins.”

Mythology

In the beginning
                there were two Lovers & one Mother.

The Lovers believed in her dreams & she
believed that memory hides like
                                shadows in light,
like death in life.

The Lovers soon decided that
they wanted pretty lies
                                &,
equating beauty with simplicity,
demanded a story explaining everything.

So the Mother told them
that songbirds never remain in cages
without dreams of escaping;

                                that agape love
is a concept only a virgin could conceive of,
because rejection is integral
to all romance:

                                that others
must be sacrificed to indifference
or love means nothing; fabric stretched too thin
always tears apart at the seams.

The Lovers rejected this:
                                they wanted comforting,
to believe in their selflessness
& inherent goodness.

So they ignored the Mother, searched
for a new teacher & found the Father.

The Father took the little songbirds &
plucked out all their feathers;
broke their necks
to make them
appreciate
                                the sky,

& refused to answer any questions

including “why?”.

Multitudes stand in my mind*

Behind the eyes,
                where multitudes abide,
a mind decides to obey strange instructions:

                thoughts
bloom like fruit & fall,
one by one;

                    some
return to the earth to become new life
while others, for reasons unknown,
decay slowly
& grow into nothing but waste.

Swarms of contradictory thoughts
grow thorns:

will beauty persist
when feelings no longer exist?

If I claim you've misunderstood me
would you know what I mean?

& why write a poem

                    no one will read?

*Credo – Robinson Jeffers