All the Points of the Compass

with apologies to Tom Stoppard

You could be one of those
John D. Rockefeller types
with interest, credit and dividends
to burn, and legions of laborers
and company men yoked to each
gilded coach like Clydesdales or
Lipizzaner stallions,

you could be a rogue, romantic Jedi
or irresistibly charming bandit prince
of poets somehow defying all known
universal laws regarding the natural
and equitable distribution of the world’s
singularly sweetest fruit,

you could be Otis, the town drunk,
a low-rent Li Po, shuffling, belching
and farting away your days in poetic
Nirvanish glee down the plum blossom-
lined streets of the quaint little Mayberry, USA
of your wine-soaked mind—

and for all the points of the compass,
there is only one direction and time
is its only measure, and it’s only a matter
of time before you’re carried calmly out to
(or paddling madly backwards from)
the roaring falls of the Great Unknown.

Integer Line

The $5 black
truckstop sunglasses
were minding their
own business, resting
next to the mysterious
brown paper bag
which had just been
delivered that very
moment by the
tongue-less dwarf
(with the bright
jungle bird on his
shoulder) and
contained, much to
our surprise, a single
chess piece (a queen,
by the way) and
a set of keys that
looked like a
glittering undersea
creature when
splayed-out on
the spacious dining
room table before us
and catching the light
from a lamp in the corner,
radiating out its
golden, narcotic glow,
like a halo above the
conspicuously dapper man,
sitting in the over-
stuffed chair beneath it
(with the stuffing
and even a few springs
coming out, here
and there), a cup
of tea steaming
on the end table
next to him,
an open pocketknife
in one hand, a yellow
pencil in the other,
his attention focused,
eagerly and earnestly,
on something visible
only to him,
situated exactly
in the middle
of the integer line
that spanned
the distance
those two

Loaded Dice and Poisoned Candy

Hardly even know it’s there
most of the time…

after all, we can be a (somewhat)
fundamentally oblivious species:

whether posited, serenely, in proper lotus position
in the middle of some shimmeringly pristine
mountaintop scenario or deeply steeped
in some sweaty, chaotic configuration of love,

or (just as likely), broke down
on the side of the highway,
I-35 let’s say, just south of Topeka, Kansas
(with five pallets of National Enquirers,
bearing the tear-streaked face of Miley Cyrus,
that has GOT to get through):

a weathered cargo ship
run aground under a brutal, relentless sun,
one-o-one in the shade
and a beer can rolling along all of a sudden
like a tumbleweed in an old cowboy movie,
(and now a dog barking off in the distance,
as if on cue).

So, we are allowed, now and then,
an absolution, of sorts,
from our inherent obligation
to fundamental attentiveness
to most of the obvious
and at least some of the finer points
of the subtext, metatext and copious footnotes
to the post, post-modernist novel of Life.

But, still it hovers and circles,
always lurking just out of the corner of the eye,
waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike,
doling out fate and fortune,
good, bad and indifferent, alike,

the free-floating nucleus
of the all-encompassing,
all-permeating physics of context,
the fluid matrical mechanica
of how things really are,
the constantly shifting locus
of the very shit that happens to us,
again and again and again
in sloppy viscous loops…

The moment ultimately coming to a point,
like the point of a big red arrow
on the Metaphysical Highway
Rest Stop Map Of Life,

like the finger of God pointing,
just a little too accusingly,
at you (and you and you)
as if to say

(and here you are)!

everything else
is extenuating circumstances
and low-grade

loaded dice and poisoned candy.