The Poem of the Mind

The poem of the mind starts with a question,

But which one?  It fears the “loss of problems”

Wittgenstein feared, it finds its pleasure in the

Trance that suddenly comes over one, the dawning

Of a new romance, the promise offered one last time.

Come here, it seems to say (a plea addressed to no one),

Come with me down this course.  No one answers

Of course, because the way is solitary and the end

Uncertain, but it doesn’t matter in the end.  Like someone

Walking in his sleep who dreams of walking in his sleep,

It gradually becomes the thing that it envisions, simultaneously   

Inhabiting and moving towards an unknown destination.

You think you’ve read it all before, and of course you have,

For the poem of the mind is inexhaustible.  It never ends,

As the mind never ends, yet sometimes disappears from view

Before emerging in a new form, one resembling the old form

As one day resembles another, or the mild afternoon light 

Resembles that of its first morning, the site of its first illusion.

It treasures its illusions, for they’re what it is and where it lives:

Wandering through the gallery of lost illusions, it pauses

Before one or two, before the catastrophe of reality intrudes—

Bone smashed on asphalt, gunshot blowing out the head—

And then continues on.  It isn’t a question of belief or disbelief,

But of a freedom from belief, an acquiescence in appearance.

To be satisfied with appearance is to be perpetually unsatisfied

A small voice says, and yet its reservation goes unheeded.

Who could actually live that way?  How else? goes the reply.

I’m just like you, if you don’t ask me what that means.

The poem of the mind portrays an almost vacant mind

Whose thoughts remain unfinished, like the unfinished paintings

Hanging on the studio wall above the blood-splattered floor.

When does it turn, the way a sonnet turns?  When do questions

Take on a grammar of their own, answering themselves

Day after day, until the inwardness becomes as unbearable

As an encroaching blindness?  This is what eternal life must be:

To live completely in the present, locked in a self-absorption

So intense its end is unimaginable, where nothing can be real

Outside its own arena of awareness, like the shot it can’t hear,

The crash it can’t feel.  Feelings are supposed to be its heart,

But they’re imaginary feelings, based on an imaginary life.

It posits an indifferent life behind the real one, an indifferent

World that wanes and waxes as a whole, yet never really

Changes: happy for a day, and then unhappy on the next,

But what’s the difference?  Parts are real too, and even

Fragments have to come to something in the end.  At length

It starts to settle and subside: the morning light is gradual

In the window, as the contours of a vague presence

That wasn’t there before emerge.  Here you are,

It says to itself.  I’m glad you’ve finally come home.

The impulse that engendered its convulsive exercise

Pulls back and takes a breath, recasting its answer

In the form of a new question, as the poem of the mind

Returns at last to its beginning, and is satisfied.