Tao as Lorde

When I speak of the Tao, I know not
but vaguely I

speak of Lorde       the fruit of my wis-
dom is twenty

                  inches too far from soul, twenty
                  years too large, twenty
                  something, perhaps more maybe
                  much less
When I speak of the Tao, I speak of Lorde

for it is through poetry that we give name to those ideas which are — until the poem — nameless and formless, about to be birthed, but already felt

— Audre Lorde, “Poetry is not a luxury”

the terrifying magnanimity of sagehood

i.
Does earth thrive on the kindness of the
bear I pray

it does     does its salt bring the keenness
of its blurry

heart to play I pause     does its tremble
bleed only

worn drops of the moon I light the stolen
candle & look

ii.
I as fool am forgotten the
sage acts

with the kindness of the knife
sheathed

as if forgotten but at times
remembers &

sharp

iii.
I cannot let metaphor be steel, it has to
breathe among

roots     cannot let word be an adminstra-
tive assistant

its care is not about wondering flight but
more care

I cannot let song be the slide-rule     its dig-
itization is

sapping the ocean of worry     & that makes
it less supple –

iv.
as i flit from flower to flower i
see i am not bird or bee but the
why of the street song as
it meets the unsought child as
churn the repetitive recitation of
how the why should be such & so –

v.

“Heaven is my father and earth is my mother, and I, a small child, find myself placed intimately between them.
What fills the universe I regard as my body; what directs the universe I regard as my nature.
All people are my brothers and sisters; all things are my companions.”

– Zhang Zai

the dregs of tao

i.
wangwei spoke of a distant t’ang
no longer viable

as nature     dufu laments laments
his song his

children poor his ambition sharp
sharp till

he channels laotsu but he is late
the river recalls

ii.
a bedevilled notion of bloodflow has
ancillary cooptions

tooting a mandatory horn     we have
algebra lessons as

our guide to a moral aesthetic     (so
foundations are

necessarily wrongfooted)     beyond what
the rope of an

eyelid can climb     behind actuarian
uncertainties

lie certain possibilities     the rope
is mountain –

iii.
a burnt conscience stokes the
lament of

objectionable beauty     this
form that

begat the warmth of forgetting
now heat

now axis     now the plumb of
terror woven

iv.
Dread is my mouth’s resonance     dead is
the willingness

of its voice     which voice?     the stone
demands     which

need goes in search of this voice? the
stone is now rock

in becoming     in riveting itself to the
tales of two pasts

one which is my mouth’s resonance     one
which is its voice

v.
so we can say physics is the aftermath
of reason

ethics the shell of the shell     & art?
art is

the longing for wrong when right-left
revels as an unjust di
          chotomy –

    

poem as hammer & chisel

the gumptious sage posits –
posits while

the bird is principally
unprincipled

in chirp     she posits the
undoing of

her positing     positioned
as she is

between a chirp and a hard
place –

Use the poem as you would a
hammer, a

chisel     put them on a pedestal
worship the

bam and cut of it and you have
the cult of

hammer&chisel     put the poet/m
up on high

& you have armies led by pen led
by the thrum

of beauty, benevolence, bravado &
truth (off, coarse)

Not I, says the I-word

How far does the knuckle need
how distant is my

ear from the parrot’s ruin    how
true is the lure

of wonder from the point where
the forest departs

& asks, “are you the stare or the
gaze of my ask?”

Not I, says the I-word
becoming is
begetting the I     the

Naught is the beginning
of sorrow     the fire is
the anvil’s companion

Even before the sense of
word began     Not I, says
the word-I/becoming/begetting

The consonant is not-I     not
weary of the verb’s inaction
as becoming/begetting     not-I

an ordinary infinity

the rain has tents to perspire in
the kind of tange lime has but
filtered for softness    the
flit of nuance    the bulb of whole

reachables tumulting themselves
into an ordinary infinity
this is but rain    this is but
the fall of kind words    timed

Master Sang Hu said, ‘Have you not heard of the man of Chia who ran away? Lin Hui threw aside his jade emblem worth a thousand pieces of gold, tied his son to his back and hurried away. People asked, “Was it because the boy was worth more? Surely a child isn’t that valuable. Was it because of all the effort required to carry the jade? But surely a child is even more trouble. So why throw away the jade emblem worth a thousand pieces of gold and rush off with the young child on your back?” Lin Hui told them, “It was greed that brought me and the jade emblem together, but it was Heaven that linked my son and me together.”

‘When the ties between people are based upon profit, then when troubles come, people part easily. When people are brought together by Heaven, then when troubles come, they hold together. To hold together or to separate, these are two very different things. The relationship with a nobleman can be as bland as water, that with a mean-spirited person sickly sweet as wine. However, the blandness of the nobleman can develop into affection, but the sweetness of the mean-spirited person develops into revulsion. That which unites for no apparent reason, will fall apart for no apparent reason.’

– The book of Chuang Tsu