Religion leers “Join me, or you face death” And History jeers “Inevitable death”, But Science still adheres To schemes to postpone death… The path of a 1000 years Starts with a single breath.
It’s interesting to speculate how long it will take before humans can start regenerating enough key pieces of our ageing and failing bodies that we can uncap our lifespan. A matter of decades rather than centuries, I think–but not soon enough for me, I fear.
The last sentence of the poem riffs on the Chinese saying attributed to Lao Tzu (also rendered as Laozi and Lao-Tze) that “The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.”
The poem was originally published in Bewildering Stories, a weekly of speculative writing of all types, edited by a multinational team but headquartered in Guelph, Ontario.
Here come the old gods, laughing in their sleeves At all the foolishness humankind believes. Vishnu and Odin say Prayers are in vain. Loki and Shiva say All goes down the drain. Jesus and Buddha say All will rise again. Dig into the molecule, the atom you disclose– Search into the atom and its particles expose– Then to string and quantum, to things that no one knows, But downward still and downward the endless staircase goes. What yet smaller pieces make up the smallest part? What is outside everything? What’s before the start? The answer’s in the searching through human gods and sin, The answer’s in the clicking of the wheel’s endless spin, The answer’s in the angels dancing on a pin, The answer is the journey you begin, begin, begin.
This poem was published this month in Snakeskin. It is rhythmic without being precise in its metre: this, together with the rhymes, means it is easy to chant (if you like chanting poetry). Philosophically it is a good expression of my personal beliefs (or lack thereof). I’m a Militant Agnostic: “I don’t know, and neither do you.” Which creates a lot of space for us all to enjoy life.
There flows in my veins the most ancient of ardours: not power, or love, nor yet worship of God; the fight that each tiniest baby fights hard as fought earliest man: “Understand!” Pry and prod with unquenchable flame of the world-disregarders for Truth! – be it complex, destructive or odd. If this fire is from Heaven, then Heaven I’ve earned; so write on my grave: “This stone too shall be turned.”
This teasingly paradoxical little poem was originally published in the Shot Glass Journal, a thrice-a-year journal of 20-30 American poems and an equal number of international ones. Why the name? Because this is a journal for short poems, none over 16 lines. Most of the material they publish is free verse, but they like to have a full range of styles in each issue… which is good news for formal poets.