Glare / Strip / #4

hear me, O Lord, from the height of
the high place, where speaking is not

necessary to hearing and hearing is
in all languages: hear me, please,

have mercy, for I have hurt people,
though I think not much and where

much never intentionally and I have
accumulated a memory (and some heavy

fantasy) guilt-ridden and as a
nonreligious person, I have no way

to assuage, relieve, or forgive
myself: I work and work to try to

redeem old wrong with present good:
but I’m not even sure my good is good

or who it’s really for: I figure I
can be forgiven, nearly;, at least,

by forgiving, that is, by understanding
that others, too, are caught up in

flurries of passion, of anger and
resentment and, my, my, jealousy and

that coincidences and unintentional
accidents of unwinding ways can’t

be foreknown: what is started here,
say, cannot be told just where to

go and can’t be halted midway and
can’t, worst, be brought

back and started over: we are not,
O You, at the great height, whoever

you are or whatever, if anything, we
are not in charge, even though we

riddle localities with plans,
schemes, too, and devices, some of

them shameful or shameless: half-guilty
in most cases, sometimes in all, we

are half-guilty, and we live in
pain but may we suffer in your cool

presence, may we weep in your surround-
ing that already has understood:

we could not walk here without our
legs, and our feet kill, our

steps however careful: if you can
send no word silently healing. I

mean if it is not proper or realistic
to send word, actual lips saying

these broken sounds, why, may we be
allowed to suppose that we can work

this stuff out the best we can and
having felt out our sins to their

deepest definitions, may we walk with
you as along a line of trees, every

now and then your clarity and warmth
shattering across our shadowed way

 

 

A.R. Ammons

 

#37, from the book GLARE by A.R. Ammons

one types to please and appease, to
belay the furies, to charm the real

and unreal threats into a kind of
growling submission: typing is this

ancient skill, now so rare it is as
if priestcraft, intoned knowledge in

the legend of words: this idle skill
is an offering, symbolic in kind,

a tribute to the makers of fear:
oh, we say, look at this typing:

note the actual ink, the pressure of
the keys against paper: isn’t that

we say, curious: don’t you find it
distracting: doesn’t it recall to

you old rich worlds you’ll be all
day recovering: meanwhile, we

typists will be eased enough to have
dinner, maybe take a nap: paranoia

is just a motive for operations, for
recognizing this and that and thinking

how this can deal with that: it is
a sharp acquisition of knowledge:

it gets you up to the plate: with
all the strikeouts, you may learn

to hit the ball: no telling what
you’ll be paid for that, and it was

all sort of magically accidental: you
were trying to do one thing when you

did another they pay you for: is it
not better to be comfortable and

ignorant: then Love and Trust, arm
in arm, waltz by and assure us that

there is nothing to fear, that, indeed,
the people like to look at our typing

just because they like to: they have
so much friendly feeling they delight

even in the fearful mirages your
typing rigs up: think of that:

it was all the time all a show: it
gave energy to the occasions: it was

something to consider: but, of course,
you know, some loves are despised and

some trust is deceptive: separating
out the threads of reality, you may

become entangled and fearful: you
may have to override caution in order

to believe in love, to make a, as
they say, commitment: appearances

dress reality in different
guises: so, you are asking, what is

my advice: my advice is, it’s not
going to be easy, or else it is going

to be so easy you won’t even know
it’s happening: take a chance, stay

alert, have faith: how do you do
this: I have no idea: you “work it

out?” you remain compliant, yielding,
assertive, angry, grateful, cautious,

and type a lot: you can’t type
without dealing with the roller, the

return carriage, the space bar, the
margins, the ribbon, the paper, the

keys–not to mention thoughts and
feelings: so it requires some attention:

the great thing about attention is
that you basically have only one and

when it is occupied it is hard to
preoccupy it, and that is why they

say the merciful Lord gives us only
one thing to deal with at a time;

that’s because we can pay attention
to only one thing at a time: you

may hurt in a dozen places, but when
your mind settles on one place, the

other places retreat, distally vague,
unvisited: choose the positive

where it can be found or invented:
for no reason but that it feels

better than choosing the negative:
but choosing is not easy: you have

to work at it little by little: one
little bit enables another, so the

effect builds up and you wake up one
morning calm, at peace, or happy:

at least, one hopes so: do the best
you can, do


From GLARE: Two Poems by A.R. Ammons