A Century of Meditation

Dan Beachy-Quick

That if I knew how, would I—.
In singing, not to sing—.
Build the thing, or don’t—.
God as if God weren’t there—.
Prayer as remote control,
as heretic point, as market share—.
Read about the animals:
their eyes that stare into the open,
and there the void-glare glares—.
Where hearts go out—. Ends stop—.

Grows so heavy when it grows up.
Knowing less weighs it down.
As arms still carry the burden
just put down, blood carries echo
of the echo of the—. Some sound.
Thought of blood as thought.
What heart doesn’t want a master
more clear than itself, less riddled
by the commands: put down to pick up,
be abandoned by what is given.

Grace is when what need not fall
comes falling. So gently of itself
the snow. So gently of itself the fog.
Blocking at night the stars. A voice
speaks at night above me where it lives,
leaning out the window, wondering
at the moon, how close it is, how near
at hand, a voice could touch it
with its hand. I don’t make a sound.
Scared I’ll scare the voice from falling down.

Mimic, not mock—.
Irony is when no one knows how to laugh.
Mind keeps making itself
its own example—.
Try mine on, it says; my thought.
Leafless oak surrounded by the leafed-out birch.
Then a song. Then some weeks.
Then I learn to think about the clouds
as a mind drifting through its own
humor. Not a joke. The darker leaves uncurl.

Not dead, corrupt—
not corrupt, decaying—
the author in the poem of his making.
Urn of his making. Bird of his making.
What sings inside itself, does it sing
in me? Song that waking itself
lulls every other ear to sleep.
And the voices there (in dreams,
without speaking speak; and the eyes there,
seeing they don’t see) other voices answer.

“God’s not dead”
is a sticker on a truck; a sticker
on the truck says, “By the time you
read this, I will have reloaded,”
an Uzi in silhouette pointing at the words.
I don’t know how to think, I think.
A thing done under threat. I imagine
a picture when I read a word. So many things
ache when needs aren’t met. Head, aspirin.
Heart, asp. Blood stiff in the member.

What is this violence that makes my hands
these hands, blood in, blood on—.
Dream of a cloud dragging a chain across the ground
following the line in the dirt.
Dream of a—. Gun. Stick. Candle. Cloud. Stone.
A child’s face lights up the page she reads,
as does the sun, the moon—.
That’s a lie. The sun is inside the moon.
The book inside the girl’s head, unfolding leaves.
My hands inside the blood inside my hands—.

The old man believed in numbers as gods.
He used to be a beautiful courtesan—.
In another life he might have been a dog.
Hammers on anvil taught him the musical ratios.
He drew this portrait of God’s face:
            ★ ★
         ★ ★ ★
       ★ ★ ★ ★
Eternal soul—. Stars the pegs drawing music taut—.

Beauty and truth—.
I lash myself to the letter I
and listen as the clouds sail by—.
The sirens sing their song
that makes a hole in happiness—.
That source of song—. That hole—.
Doppler effect of the police car
chasing the street. A man
with middle name Storm knocks
on church. The church lets in—. The storm—.

On Lesbos the refugees gather on the shore.
Like a strong wind shatters the pine, so love—.
Like a god he seemed to me, sitting near you—.
Where the old poet suffered love others suffer
differently. I think there is no end to thinking.
Doesn’t stop—. Doesn’t get anywhere—.
I keep treating other voices like the voice of God
who has no voice, who carved a grid in stone.
Maybe I’m being difficult—. Maybe confused—.
Tune without words—. Impossible bird called hope—.

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