Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Scale and Proximity

Autumn-bright day,
the sky chalky blue,
the colors of the leaves
still clinging to the
trees now faded to
a deep red, but
still vibrant against
the clarity of the

Even cars refusing the
drab nature of a
city’s impending
winter, the traffic
sedate and almost
satisfied for once,
no jockeying for
position, but I think
that I’m probably
projecting these things,
or their meanings, in
any case,

Because, though most
everything has failed
and the world is spinning
through an uncaring,
chill universe where we
are just an incident, a stage
of minor interest among
the dust and vapor of
galaxies and globular
clusters being born and
slowly sucking inwards
toward the supermassive
black holes tearing at the
fabric of reality,

I have incidentally done
a few things right, and
perhaps feel the faintest
moment of satisfaction,
of peace here next to
the big windows, the
air artificially warm,
the leaves falling slow
on a quiet day, the
intricate shadows between
the bricks of the old
building across the road
hinting at the sun’s angle,
the flags, one white, one
blue, moving easy on
the higher air below
the clock tower,

And men wearing English
hats on their way by seem
friendly to me, their quick
step and slight cough, passing
the barren smaller trees with
their naked limbs without
any hint that they connote
hopelessness and death,

And a woman in a great,
heavy red coat and scarf,
formless and almost secret
in her identity, pushing a
baby’s carriage south as
the chromed motorcycle
and its obdurate driver
brave that same chill in
leather and a mail delivery
truck with bright brown
sides comes to a halt on
the road, perhaps to disgorge
gifts for the upcoming
holiday’s consumer cheer,

And I am here, and working,
and there is no misery in me,
though the scars of those
rougher emotions linger
on my spirit close enough,
like the impressions of
words written on pages
now discarded from the
notebook, and I am so
immaculately imperfect
that these moments are

And it is liberating
to know my own insignificance
in the universe, the inanities
of my limited viewpoint,
the foolishness of my philosophy,
the brevity of all that is me,
a simple binary against the
scale of all that is, a fraction
of a fraction of a fraction in
which the zero turns to one
and I am,

And the breath goes easily out
of my body and is drawn back
in, these petty magicks of which
I am composed, this small universe
within me where tiny beings
exist, where atom becomes
molecule and molecule becomes
cell, and on to tissues rife with
their own private sounds and
furies, and it comes to me that
importance is just a matter of
scale and proximity, that an
incipient blockage of an artery
in my body is as important
to this private galaxy of blood
and bone as a bulging red
giant devouring its planets
and shedding clouds of
helium into the eternal
night would be to some
distant solar system far
beyond our telescopes’

And a pleasant fall day,
however short, can grow
to be equal to all unwitnessed
eternities in every nebula
and pulsar and quasar in
the night’s ineffable depth,
at least to me.


drthunder said...

Beautiful imagery! For today, you have found the thread of beauty and have become at one with the universe. It's such a good feeling, and well worth striving for. You are experiencing "hozho."

MB said...

The first, seventh and last stanzas really stand out for me. What a lovely feeling this is that you've described here.

Mushster said...

Calming, peaceful, contented ... that's the feeling I get with this and the third stanza is a stand-out for me. Puts everything in perspective.

MB said...

Yes, 3rd stanza, too.

Swiftboat said...

Mature contentment. Born not out of any feeling that all is right in the world, but that, despite everything, all can be right in yourself – even if just for a while. It's quite human and often good to want a better world, and to fight for it. To desire something not yet attained, and to strive for it. But if in the process of all this desire and striving we become oblivious to the beauty of an autumn afternoon, then perhaps we're really lost. (If I wasn't an atheist I'd say spiritually bankrupt but as it is I need a new language to describe these impossible things. But that's a different subject.)

Needless to say I really like this one. I've been hoping that this perspective would eventually show up in your work. “I am here, and working, and there is no misery in me” What a simple and beautiful statement. I will carry it with me.

Firehawk said...

First of all, thanks for all of your great comments. I'm glad to have all of you here, and I appreciate the time and enthusiasm you spend on my poetry.


I try to walk in beauty when I can.


I'm not one to write contented verse often, but I try to evoke the mood I feel at that moment. I'm glad that you were able to get something out of it.


It's weird, huh? Me, calming? I'll snap out of it soon enough, I imagine.


I'm actually content quite often. I don't generally feel that the mood merits any poetics, though. I thought you might like this one when I wrote it, however, and I'm glad I was right.

Bill said...

Firehawk - "And it is liberating
to know my own insignificance
in the universe, the inanities
of my limited viewpoint,
the foolishness of my philosophy,
the brevity of all that is me,
a simple binary against the
scale of all that is, a fraction
of a fraction of a fraction in
which the zero turns to one
and I am,"

Yes it is, and I've never seen it captured quite so well.

This one is a 'print and keep' for me, it captures so much, but when it's distilled down, I got the same message tht Swiftboat put so clearly:

“I am here, and working, and there is no misery in me”

Too me, that, in and of itself, is, in effect, the best of times!

MB said...

I'm actually content quite often. I don't generally feel that the mood merits any poetics, though.

There is little drama (plot) to contentment, perhaps, but the world needs more of it, I think. I'd like to think that anything is fair game for poetry.

Mushster said...

Weird but I like it hehe.

garnet david said...

This is my first time here, which is surprising, since I've seen so many of your comments on Ken's poetry.

As a poet, I read this with respect, noting the detailed images, the flow, the mood, the expanding perspective...which lead to a beautiful illumination of ideas which are dear to me, the sense that infinity is comforting, "the brevity of all that is me".

I'm glad I came. Thank you.


Stranger Ken said...

I've arrived too late to add much to what others have said, but ... the tone and cadence of your writing here are exquisitely at rest and all the more powerful for that. You write as if at a slight remove from reality (No bad thing!) and no longer in the grip of its rawness. Emotion recollected in tranquillity, perhaps? There's a lot to take in here, because the poem is very narrative and descriptive, too. I shall have to go away and think about it. Just one question, though: what are "English hats"?

Firehawk said...

Well, I'm overwhelmed! Where to start? Oh, that's easy. Thanks to all of you for your great comments!


That, "I'm okay," feeling is pretty good. Not euphoria, but you don't have to pay for it afterward, either.


You're right, of course. Nothing's out of bounds for poetry. Drama and meaning are, after all, not the same thing. If they were, there'd be a lot better shows on the television.


Welcome! Glad to see you here. I've seen your comments many times, as well, but I've been fairly bad at exploration over the last few months. I'll have to drop by.

As for the poem, I like to think that the singular and the infinite are, paradoxically, very close to one another. As the one, the many, you might say. Then again, if one speaks of inifinity, anythink of smaller scale is simply a subset, and therefore a representative sample.


Glad to see you, and I must smile and shake my head when you assert that you have nothing to add. I hope the project you were involved in turned out well, and we are all happy to see you back in the blogsphere.

As for the poem, I actually used a great deal of stimulus from that particular moment in this one. Not as fantastical in regards to events as some of mine, you might say. I recognize that this one is fairly long and might take a few days to process. I'm happy to recieve your further thoughts, of course.

The English hat business--somehow, I thought you might ask me about that. The man walking by was wearing a wool checked cap with the small brim. I wasn't positive what to call it, but I've seen enough people from the UK wearing them that I thought English hat might be okay. If you imagined a pork pie hat, or a bowler, I don't think it hurts the poem, and I certainly don't mind.

Well, quite a turn-out for my little corner of the blogsphere. Thanks to all of you once again.

Firehawk said...



...anything, of course. Darn fat fingers of mine!

garnet david said...

Poets render the vague and the paradoxical into the palpable and tangible. This poem does that.

And I kind of like the word "anythink".

MB said...

I like "anythink," too.

Firehawk said...

Moose and Garnet,

"Anythink" may actually be some form of Zen concentration.

MB said...


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