yellow light beckoning

These brushes with low-level fame grow dimmer as the years tear the flesh from our bones. In my mind’s eye I still see it all before me. How this was done. How it could’ve gone. Sneaking out of bed at the wrong time. Not primed in our prime. The time it takes to falter. The dreams you’ve lost to waking. Sleep-walking through daytime hours, thrashing through evening dreamtime.

These thrushes with flute-like voices grow stronger as my time on this earth strips youth off this sapling. Near-sighted I stumble but still know how it ends. How it must follow. Staying up late when it feels right. Fueled for the long haul. Steady walking to the light, the fields, the tall pines. The dreams I fall into every night. Breathing in, breathing out. Waiting for my reward.

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  1. So touchingly and exquisitely stated….
    And yet it is this very thing that lends beauty and poignancy and urgency to life, reminding us to not lapse into unawareness and laxity – and just not caring….
    I think the Greeks had a sense of this – their immortal gods were trivial and meddling and ruthless, because spared mortality, they had nothing to lose – and nothing to gain. They had no vital stakes in the game.
    We on the other hand have the ability to deepen with age, even as time slips away from us – even as our future and our certain ending begins to encroach into our present, looking over our shoulders, interfering, reminding….
    Could this, I wonder, be at the root of human perfectibility?

    • It is certainly a tightrope we walk as our years deepen, between awareness and…what? Nihilism? Cynicism? Any number of toxins eating away at our legacy for having made it this far. You may be right, though, about that last part…

  2. Cynicism and Nihilism certainly intrude – but I think it is our awareness OF finiteness that is needed….
    Without that, mortality and infinity are merely concepts and abstractions which lack context and meaning. I feel it is the effort we are compelled to make, in order to find something we can value in our aging selves and what life is now, is how we can require ourselves to refine our appreciation….
    I keep having to explain these things to myself because I haven’t fully grasped it, but I think that if I don’t push my lazy mind to get out of its passive state I will never become fully myself, and so waste the remainder of my life.
    This is a real puzzle and a problem for me.
    Sorry to be so long-winded.
    Have you read Colin Wilson?

    • As I grow older, I feel an increasing sense of urgency threaded into my creativity. I think this urgency comes from my perception of time moving faster as I age. Now, I know that time is not actually moving faster. But as the markers and frameworks I’ve traditionally hung my perception of time’s passage on have gradually disappeared, time does seem to be moving faster. The longer I stay in one place, the longer I stay at this job, the longer I spend sitting at a desk all day…all of this contributes to a blending of days into weeks into months that results in a backwards glance at an expanse of time lacking in form and substance, and as such, is easily condensed in my mind into “yet another year where nothing happened.” But this is not bad. That’s what we must remind ourselves of (and what I forget off and on). What happened is inconsequential. Not to harp on about Krishnamurti (I just happen to be reading a lot of him lately), but he says: “Forget the ideal, and be aware of what you are. Do not pursue what should be, but understand what is. The understanding of what you actually are is far more important than the pursuit of what you should be.” It took many years for me to even begin understanding who I am. But certainly it is this knowledge that has helped me the most to feel at peace. And the less I dwell on how I feel things should be, the better I feel.

      Now I’m the one rambling. I have not read Colin Wilson but I looked him up and I’m intrigued. Do you have a title or two to recommend? His first book sounds right up my alley…I can’t believe I haven’t heard of it before this, although I’ve read most of the authors he profiles. So many books still to discover!

      • I think it is a lack of joy and intensity – (or being forgetful about how to evoke them) – that results in the unremarkableness of the passage of time. Since it takes great skill and experience to self-generate joy, I have found the best thing to do is to seek out the things that give me that ‘rush’ – those little bursts of flavour that are guaranteed to wake me up. When i was at my former job (I am retired now) I used to always keep a reminder on my desk – a book, a photograph, a new fountain pen, a video playing on my ipod – something that evoked another ‘world’ for me.
        The other thing – and this is such a great proof of the basic perversity of human nature – is that it was the times when I was most deeply in pain that I was ‘open’ to music and art and poetry at my deepest levels. This of course drastically slowed down the passage of time!
        The best way I have found to be ‘awake’ is to be immersed in the things I love. I suppose that until I forge a link between that state of happiness despite not having a ‘direct object’ – so to speak – I have to resort to small manipulations.
        The sovereign remedy of course is falling in love!
        I think Krishnamurthi is so right about just being kind and gentle about being ‘what is.’ I have had a huge struggle about saying a sweet goodbye to my younger selves – but those selves refuse to be fully parted from me – so I have to make room for them to remain with me. When there is no other way open but acceptance of ‘reality’ I take a deep breath and try to let it in.
        My first brush with Colin Wilson was with “The Occult” – its very readable and gives a good sense of what he means by ‘Faculty X’ – so that would be my recommendation based on personal experience.

  3. Was this a poem that you decided in the end should be prose? It has that feel, in its structure and patterning. Either way, you tackle a heavy theme with a lightness of touch.

    • Thanks for the comment! Yes, often when I write poetry it comes out in the form of prose. It’s been that way for a while. Lined poetry feels restrictive to me, although on rare occasions I do write that way. I do also read plenty of lined poetry; it’s just not how my own words tend to come out on the page.



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