A ghost in the world

I stand on the doorstep.

What do you want to see? says the sky.

     I don’t want to see anything.
     I’m tired of seeing, moving, searching.
     I want to sit somewhere, be still, listen.
     Somewhere no-one will expect me to talk.
     Somewhere I am no-one.
     A ghost in the world.

Zhuangzi says chasing even that
is not the Way. You’re chasing an object:
something outside you that always recedes.
The quiet place is inside you
in all the sounds of space.
What do you want to hear? says the sky.

     No more questions, I say.
     I want to hear the lap-slap of wavelets at the edge of a lake
     I want to hear a dove coo / and another answer
     I want to hear a car pass without being afraid it will kill us all with its carbon
     I want to hear a man whistling / as he walks to his place / of work
     I want to hear the ten pm train / without wondering / in what year it will cease to run
     I want to sleep / without dreaming / that all the butterflies die at once and are not reborn
     Without dreaming / of a strange sour land / too hot to inhabit
     I want to wake up without that / in the back of my head

     People carry on
     as if death will never come
     Making five year plans, ten year plans, investing
     People carry on as if death will arrive tomorrow
     Eating, drinking …

In spacetime, says the sky,
or in Hawking & Hartle’s imaginary time,
every moment, then now when,
always
is
You can carry yourself
as if death has / already come
A sadhu, a monk, a ghost in the world …
Or just a practitioner
of wu wei:
not here,
not anyone,
exerting no
force

First published as part of “The Dream”, in my PhD thesis, October 2018

The light

The light has to get somewhere, touch something, to exist
You take acid as we’re sitting in the air
The old woman pours whitewash over her husband’s head
We’re on the left
There’s no box, no comfort zone
Anything but raw paper is a compromise
Two girls with acne and stringy bleached hair
Occupy Wall Street
A month in the hole
In solitary
The way to connect is to work together
I had a clear vision
Looming orange clouds, an apocalyptic sunset
Something that makes you smaller or channels your movement

The light has to get somewhere
A curve through spacetime
A function
A journey, transmission, idea
In the dream we’re on a plane, rows of seats, going somewhere
We don’t know what we want but it isn’t this
People keep pets
The husband is grey and decrepit
If your mother couldn’t hold you while you cried
hold yourself now
Try to hide yourself
If you throw up the next morning
does that mean you’ve poisoned yourself?
When you look for yourself as a thing
there is nothing there

The light has to get somewhere, touch something
Is that the same t-shirt?
Occupy Breastfeeding
Howl, keen, be the banshee of yourself, announcing your death
I take scissors out of your hand
You’re taking acid
Seeing the nothing inside yourself
A curve through spacetime
A function
A journey, transmission, idea
In touching something, the light
is not destroyed, but changed
In the dream
the husband is grey and decrepit
The woman pours whitewash
Anything but raw paper is a compromise
The noises when I cried and cried frightened me

The light has to get somewhere, touch something, to exist
People keep pets instead
Curl into a ball, try to hide yourself
We don’t know what we want but it isn’t this
Fenced in, fenced out
You in the aisle seat
I in the middle
Light is nothing, only
potential
When you look for yourself as a thing
there is nothing
The way to connect is to work
against each other
In touching something, the light
is not destroyed, but changed
Reflected, absorbed, refracted
Tear at your clothes and hair, bite yourself

The light has to get somewhere
I smile a little
Acid, you’re taking acid
Light is nothing, only
potential, just
an idea
Occupy Everything
Looming orange clouds
The window seat free
No-one looking out
This is not conditional
A month in the hole
Two months
Give you time to think
What if the neighbours come
and try to cheer me up?
Not depressed
Not ill
Don’t need anything
In full control
of self, life, responses
An adult
Tear at your clothes and hair, bite yourself
I don’t know what I want
If your father couldn’t hold you while you cried
hold yourself now
In touching something, the light
is not destroyed, but changed
Polarised, amplified, focussed
There’s no box
This is not
conditional
You don’t have to be
a good boy, a good girl
I had a clear vision
The light
has to touch something

From A coat of ashes
First published in Uneven Floor