Poems for Cold Weather

Cold_World_Tullio_2014

night vision

snowflake
galaxies whirl over the frozen pond

white sparks
stream from an old coal shovel

standing
straight up against the wind

I see light
everywhere

from across
the universe

photon embers
of the big bang

fill the sky
to the edge of the moon

a deer on the
ridge

looks into my
eyes

we share a
breath

in that cold
moment

between two
lives

*

The End of the World

On my way home I pass a man.

He stands on the roadside with a sign.

“The wisest man in the world.”

White hair, standing there,

he looks harmless enough.

I’m curious. I stop,

roll down the window,

and feel the cold.

“Where you headed?” I say.

“I’m headed to the world’s end.

Looks like I found it.”

“I don’t think so. This is the middle of Pennsylvania.
It’s not the end of anything, much less the world.”

“Well, if you let me go along with you for a while, I’ll show you.
I’ll get out then.”

“I have about 30 miles to where I’m going.
I’m not going out of my way.”

“No problem,” he says.
He gets in, shoves the sign in the back seat.

We drive on.
“Your sign says you’re the wisest man in the world. Is that so?”

“Sure am.”

“OK. What’s it all about, then?”

“It’s the middle of winter. That means we are all dead. And we won’t wake up until spring. We die all the time but we don’t notice it because we all die at the same time,” he says.

“Do we all wake up at the same time then, too?”

“In a way we do. But that’s just a figure of speech.”

I’m thinking my passenger is clever, but he’s not the wisest man in the world.

“That’s it.” he says. “Don’t think another thought. I’m getting out right here.”

I bring my car to a stop. There’s nothing on either side but an old cornfield. He gets out and walks up a slight rise through snow and corn stubs. As he reaches the crest and descends, he seems to disappear. Just before that he drops a small piece of paper.

I have some time.

I pull over, park, and follow his frozen footsteps.

At the top of the hill I find a folded note.

He is gone.

Back home now.

I bury his sign

and read the note:

I am old and I will die

It is time to come clean.
I woke up at an early age.

I lived a normal life.

So that you believe me

when I reveal all.

I will do that now.
It is not comforting to know

Hearing this will not set you free.

Freedom is not for us in this life.

We cannot be other than we are.

We pass our time with useless things

As if we live forever.

It is our bodies doing this.
Our minds know very well we die.

But our bodies refuse to hear of it.

Our bodies desire the useless things.

We go about our days in service to these dumb limbs

Serving them endless amounts of what they desire

But does not sustain them

Making them as comfortable as possible, as they demand it

Because they refuse to accept they will die.

Our brilliant minds are filled with petty annoyance.

That’s our lazy bodies talking

Constantly forcing us to confront ourselves in mirrors

So we can see the damage we’re doing.

And while we know love is the answer,

We are faced with the hard fact

We can only be loved to the degree we love ourselves.
And we do not love ourselves.

We are our bodies.

And because they are such stupid brutes

They are utterly unlovable.

I am good looking enough to know looks are worth nothing

And wealthy enough to have figured out it has no value.

I am intelligent and know I can never be smart enough.

I see far enough to see an end.

Waking up is like this.

Once it is yours you see right through it.

And you know

Like everything else

It is nothing at all.

The secret of life is life.

We all possess it for a while.

The world ends.

It is time to say

When.

We know it then.

We were already dead.

*

Cold Spirits

If spirits roam

In small spaces

Between slow burning suns

And the inexorable slide of gravity

They see our bodies

Living breathing steam

It freezes white in solid air

As if our souls are there.

 

Getting gasoline

Out cold in orange-yellow bays

Great bright stalls, greasy ice

Where we stand

Shocked by the knowledge

Of our predicament

Driven to wander

Risking everything

Going home

*

brain freeze

Words are frozen mind crystals.

Sentences are chunks of ice.

Once they are formed

That part of the brain stops thinking

And just repeats the words

Over and over.

We end up with titanic icebergs

In our heads.

*

Image: Cold World – Tullio – 2014

Words and Image by Tullio DeSantis
*

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