Tuesday, August 28, 2012


The beasts within us are much worse than
those we invent.
Reason and even prayer fail us, results from either
            being imperceptible or absent.
In the face of the incomprehensible, we
crumble and rebuild;
Camus’s irreverent stone made real.

Results themselves are our
comfortable fiction.
We finally confront the bitter fruit of
our first and only selves.


Contrary to popular belief,
perceptions are not reality,
but are more often presumptions. In the
            Bay of Fundy streams reverse their
flows in the great tidal bores,
            not without some pain. Even
the slow breath of the earth must gasp.

The bartender in her tattoos
            wears her myths in ink,
a canvas I admit I sometimes long 
            to touch and to taste.


O, Jupiter and O, Chaos, how is it I find
            ephemeral redemption
in the stray glance of a woman’s eye,
            and certainly her smile.
Make me a fool, then, this is my shame;
            I wasted a lifetime and then some
failing beauty.

We may all die for lack of an
appropriate yardstick
to measure our better selves.
            I still persist in the attempt.


There are shadows and scars on our souls.
There is no compelling evidence that
we are born with them. Sin is merely
            the first excuse. We cultivate our
children only to discover we have
            little influence and less control
over the eventual outcomes.

Left to this fearful conclusion we
            can only rely on fragile love.
Things must be precisely as they are,
            a view profoundly imponderable.


Sound does not travel in a vacuum
            so the conundrum remains:
If the sun roars in its fire and there is
            no atmosphere to carry it,
no soul there to listen, no soul there to
            burn in its fires,
does it make a sound?

We can spin on such questions
then dinner must be prepared and the
            dogs let out to run.


Gravity requires a certain weight to be felt,
even more to master its substance.
The Greeks cast gods as fickle beings, then
            killed them in starlight.
The myths we persist in maintaining are
            no less surreal, but perhaps lack the poetry.
We all die in starlight.

Dreams contain the stray calculi
of our experience,
the sum of which add up to something:
            Our first and only selves.

c. 2012, by Martin A. Bartels (working draft)
Part of my new collection, "Unlanguage"