Adrift between the Harmonies
The Moon exists in the future
of the Moon you see tonight,
which is only the Moon that was
a moment ago & somewhere else.
The Moon is not attracted to Earth
where the Earth is but where Earth was.
But you’re not here about the Moon.
You want to know about yourself:
how do you fit into all this,
what does it mean to be a mind
arisen from nowhere to die
after such a brief flicker of life?
The mind is metaphysical,
made to speculate rapidly;
in successive approximations,
stab toward truth, check repercussions,
do again what doesn’t kill it;
learn from the other minds around
in flesh or books or video,
absorb all our human brilliance.
We make ideas, each of us,
the way bees exude honeycombs,
each one dribbling its little bit,
no one in charge,
because we all know what to do
— take care of those close around us --
and only crazy grand abstractions
— money, God, color, honor --
can blind us to the golden rule:
you do for me, I do for you.
That’s the way we stay alive.
Me, I’m making my little poem
to comfort you, or comfort me,
this ache in me I share with you.
I rock this little lullaby
so you can sleep
and dream the dream I dream for you,
the dream of your own Universe,
you the center of everything.
But now let’s throw that dream away.
Let’s take a grander view of things:
all time, all space, exists at once.
Look, see, all here arrayed,
all that ever happened to now
& all that will ever happen
past & future hung in the sky --
this place, like all places, distanced
from everything that’s happening.
How silly, then, anxiety;
we might as well have fun with this --
ghosts riding ghost world through ghostly
presences in the emptiness,
consequences always fatal.
There is the matter of the self,
this fiction that my mind made up,
for reasons never obvious,
after my long swim in raw love --
if you can call such primal needs
self at all, as oceanic
as we arrive, we voyagers
actually wet behind the ears,
our little minds all dazed & splashed,
air raw in throats & lungs.
What is this for the first time? Hunger!
Now we are sharing mental space,
our minds assembled over time,
our systems of mental habits,
natural & cultivated,
organized to head off hunger --
and then do all the other things
we do to give each other meaning:
music, literature, dancing,
flows of spirits between some friends,
laughter when the bottle’s empty,
pretty girls who take their clothes off
to tell you they’re in love with you,
primal grown sophisticated
but primal yet at the root of it.
This mind emerged from infant seas,
an island in a sea of thinking.
We’re not even islands, we’re flotsam drifting,
mats of accidental tangle
that only begin to make sense
when we know we need each other
the way a hungry baby needs
before it ever tastes a teat,
when hunger’s need seems answerless,
the way it’s always going to feel
way down deep in the gut of us.
William Slattery’s poems and essays have appeared in The Magazine of Speculative Poetry, Poetry LA, Santa Clara Review, ONTHEBUS, The Herman Review, The Los Angeles Review of Los Angeles, Antioch Review, and elsewhere.