Underground

comments 18
Poetry

I’m a vein of flickering ore
woven through undisturbed rock,
a compacted silence.
I’m the tunnel winding past,
an opening pulled from one darkness
to another, in a line, and a walker
who wanders along its length.
Each direction dissolves into vacancy.
In the half light of a torch
someone left behind,
I look at the wooden braces
and sense the immensity of the weight above.
Who built this place?
Where were they going?
What were they looking for down here,
miles beyond the reach of sound,
cutting paths through sleeping stone?
What will wake it up?
Beyond the reach of the lamplight,
I’ve learned to trust this groping quiet.
It’s like an incinerator of identities.
I pinch the dust from the walls
between my thumb and two fingers,
rub it gently back and forth,
and it starts to glow softly.
This is a clue.
Who has left me this message?
I press my ear to the cut stone passage, and listen:
waves are leaving me that will never return.
I lay down and dream of
a woman planting seeds
into my heart.  One by one
she holds them up to look at them,
inspecting both sides carefully,
touches each one softly to her lips,
then places them inside a ventricle.
When it’s full,
she presses the valve closed between her fingers,
then waters my chest from a can.
The strange thing is, I’m not even cut,
even though all the seeds are stuffed
into one of my ventricles.
Maybe this isn’t a dream.
I have already died, I decided,
but that was a long time ago,
longer ago than I can remember,
on a day just like this one.
I’ve been wandering here for an age,
and I’m going to die again, anyway,
down here alone in this tunnel,
so the seeds will sprout.
She told me the vines
will travel through the rock,
following the vein of flickering ore.
When the vines are thick as a man’s arm
and wound all through the stone,
and there is nothing left of me
but a pair of boots in this empty hallway
the vines will die.
Mice will emerge from them
and run along the flickering vein of ore,
cheeping to one another in their own language.
Down here, that’s like being tickled
by an entire battalion of feather dusters.
It’s a thrill while it lasts.
Then they, too, will lie down and sleep.
Probably turn into geodes.
I’ll find myself walking again,
only I’ll be someone else altogether this time,
an amnesiac in a familiar darkness,
rubbing that glowing stone dust between my fingers,
wondering…

This could go on forever,
but I don’t think it will, because
I’ve started to see the graffiti.
Like the other day I walked past a man
with a name tag that said The Poet.
He was mumbling at the rock
and holding a can of spray paint.
I sidled past, caught in my thoughts,
careful not to bump him in the act of spraying,
and when I realized I had stumbled
all the way through a Curiosity without
even stopping to squint my eyes at it,
I went back to take stock.
There was just a hole in the stone wall
shaped like a big oak door
and an EXIT sign painted above it.

I marked it down for further investigation.

Then later I saw the woman with the seeds.
She wrote a long, flowing note
down the tunnel wall
that went on for days and days
and I followed about two steps behind her the whole way,
reading every swirl and curl of it.
It said, basically,
There’s a whole lot more happening
right now than you are inclined to believe
but you can’t see it yet,
so we’re doing this for a little while.

You see what I mean?
The clues are really piling up.
Silence is like a tremendous Eye
that’s just about to Open.

18 Comments

    • Thank you, Sarah! It is great to arrive, unplanned and without forethought, in sight of the great eye of life, and to see the others emerging from the trees who were drawn to the same expectant moment.

      Michael

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  1. Thank you Michael, a feeling of centuries about this one. One image that hit me quite strongly: ‘a pair of boots in this empty hallway’… the presence of he who once filled them a long, long time ago. Then I come back to life as someone else altogether ‘an amnesiac in a familiar darkness’, in an environment in the under-ground, aware of the Awareness: ‘there’s more happening right now than you are inclined to believe’. Indications are everywhere and all around…

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    • Thank you. I am glad to have succeeded to some degree in painting a picture of something that stretches time and experience a bit, yet reminds how close we are to the treasure that lives in timeless awareness. The Awareness is elusive sometimes, but never distant, like the story you are about to tell but when the gap in conversation finally arrives, you can’t remember what you were on the verge of saying just moments before. It was there, and it’s gone, but there is something familiar about the emptiness left behind…

      Michael

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  2. Michael, I have only been subscribed to your blog for a couple of months, so am far from fully familiar with your oeuvre. Still, this particular work has struck me with a certain intensity and I felt I would like to tell you so. Such feedback is unnecessary from your perspective as an artist, I know.

    I have read the work carefully three times; this is a sure sign that your imagery has woven a course through to some destination in my mind that holds no residual resistance (rare, as you know!). As a general rule, then for myself, one careful read means ‘fair enough’, two means ‘is that really so?’, and three means ‘yes it is’.

    Hariod.

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    • Thank you very much, Hariod. I love your writing, in part, because I am continuously expanding my vocabulary. It is so delicious. ‘Oeuvre’ was a new one for me, one I wished I could have handy when my second grade reading teacher was explaining the rule about no more than two vowels adjacent to one another in a word… 🙂

      As to your response to the poem, I am grateful you shared that it communicated to you somehow. I won’t try and say I’m something I’m not , and the feedback is much appreciated. There’s something about this format that is about communication, a two-way street, and it makes writing in this format somehow creative and living.

      It is interesting. I set out to write something else entirely, but that isn’t always how it goes… There is something I can’t explain, that I’m sure you understand from your own writing, the way words follow feelings, but then the words create a context that shapes the next feelings and the next words, and pretty soon you are like one of those self-interfering photons Feynman would love to explain!

      Much gratitude,
      Michael

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        • Thank you, Hariod. I appreciate it very much. I was actually trying to make a confession of a different sort, which is that knowing that others receive something from what is shared here makes the creative process all the more meaningful, and while I would write regardless, the exchange with other people like yourself is what makes it joyous all the way through. I wasn’t feeling quite the part of one who was agnostic to the response his work engenders…

          So, thank you again for your delightful and delectably contrarian presence. And for your recognition.

          Michael

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    • I lived with a professional artist for many years in the past Michael, and as a consequence had lots of contact with respected and successful artists. Almost without exception, acknowledgment and recognition of their work was important to them, not as a validation, but in order to lend a sense of completion to the creative process.

      In giving birth, to whatever, we are adding to the sum of the world; it seems only natural that the world should then make some response to its own offspring. Whether that response is positive, negative, or neutral, of course has no impact on the integrity of the work – I mean to its intrinsic values.

      If I were a great aesthete, a connoisseur of fine art, and I proclaimed ‘Guernica is an anachronistic irrelevance!’, Mr Picasso would hardly have cared less about the judgement, yet (I suspect), welcomed the fact that words dented the fabric of unknowing. As he himself said ‘Art is the lie that reveals the truth’.

      Hariod.

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      • You have said it all right here, Hariod! Thank you.for taking the time to supply the notion in such fullness. You remind me we are all in good company even as we face, alone, the daily invitation to observe, dwell within, and express the mystery within us– an effort which serves all but is not exactly a group project in it’s formative mechanics…

        Michael

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  3. Oh, so vivid, your dream out loud, much too vivid in the vein of ore, for I felt trapped for a while beneath weighty rock (scared a bit, thinking I’m this body; how can we breath? How does one move up through rock? I cannot wait for the vines to grow through, that will be forever.) Yet you move me along soon enough through the tunnels, exits, curiosities, poetry – just wonderful! I do understand in glimpses how such vivid imaginings is reshaping everything. Thank you for painting out the song of silence, just before it opens!

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    • Yes this one began a bit heavier. An exploration of the sensation of being not quite in the sweet spot at one’s center, a wanderer. As I mentioned to Hariod, I had other plans at the outset, but I was grappling with some inner distance. Some longing.

      The thing I’m realizing as I move into the moment fully, and then recede at times, is a wavelike rhythm. I think we start to see through the recessions, to call their bluff. We recognize the familiar territory of old falsehoods rattling about, and change the channel, but it helps so to have a Poet in your back pocket, or a Friend in your heart, to ensure a smooth transition.

      Somehow even all our wandering is through a field of images sustained by Love, a stone furnace of infinite depth.

      Michael

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  4. Just this morning I began a read of “Earth In Upheaval” by Immanuel Velikovsky which begins with a discussion of veins of gold ore and giant rocks and boulders which have been moved and placed many unusual an precarious places around the planet.

    You address the inner upheavals so eloquently. When one has the courage to look into the shadows and bit of darkness in which the heart also lives, beats and for all intents and purposes always is present, it is incredible what can be seen.

    Thank you for sharing. -x.M

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    • Thanks, M! That sounds like a pretty interesting book. I have read a translation of one of Vernadsky’s books, but had not heard of Velikovsky. What I did find in a search is that he must have said a thing or two slightly controversial… Oh, goody!

      Looking within snaps us out of continuous and unending non-time, where time is passing but nothing is really happening. Then, WHAM!, we find Velikovsky, and we cannot think or perceive the same ways ever again.

      Michael

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