PAS DE DEUX: MY DANCE WITH THE MACHINE: A COMEDY IN THREE ACTS

Any More Than The Way Things Are

My Irish-Catholic friend published a book
About a world-famous Irish-Catholic poet
On a highly respected Irish-Catholic university press
And teaches college in a large, deeply Irish-Catholic city

I am a Swedenborgian
And even if I wrote a book about William Blake
There are no highly respected Swedenborgian university presses
Or big cities with prominent Swedenborgian populations

I have to think that all this matters
Isn’t it why my dissertation director counseled me not to write
About Swedenborg, for the sake of my career?

–“Academics don’t know, in fact, what they are suppressing”–

The dean of a Lutheran university confessed to me over breakfast
The General Secretary of a prominent interdenominational organization
Asked me over lunch why I am a Swedenborgian, meaning, I think,
“Why on earth are you a Swedenborgian?!”

Time was I believed that if I worked hard, became good at what I do
Success would be laid at my feet, not disappointment
It takes other things than being good at what I do
And I wonder that I am passed over for so many things I am good at

I am not asking for a leg-up toward success
Any more than is the way things are in this world
My Irish-Catholic friend is good at what he does
As am I, a Swedenborgian

Disappointment

Disappointment only descends upon failed ambitions
More than just getting your hopes up, as, for example, winning The Lottery
Expectations in general that fall through
Especially ambitions’ realization evaporating as one watches

Years pass, the doors close on what could have been
Out of time; out a life; a lifetime passed by
They say Reike can heal time—the past, present, what will be
Which is a different understanding of time that I know

Carol tells me that she has no ambitions, never did
My mother wonders where mine came from, since
Neither she nor Dad craved other than their work, homelife

–Nor credited me with success—

There’s something so real about Carol, which echoes back to a place I once was
I take it her upbringing on a farm
Where dirt and the harvest cycle are as real as it gets
Formed her out of the dust of the earth

The blanched suburbia of my impoverished culture
The shallow depths I almost drowned in
The neglect and torment my nascent family ignored and inflicted
Perhaps conspired to inspire my drive to reach for what my hand never grasped

I don’t know if Carol knows my disappointment
She has come to terms with riches she will never own
Guess it is not for me to posit where I would be
Why I continue to reach; I think Carol likes it

Some Glad Morning

I raged against the machine and did my own thing
Cultivating the garden that is my soul: wisdom, love
I didn’t care if they groomed me for success
Or if they said that I was just a fool

And so, my self found development in accord with aspiration’s beckon
Ever evolving aspirations leading my meandering pathway. I am pleased.
So why do I want that machine against which I raged
Now to bless me, sanctify my works with recognition and acclaim?

I wouldn’t say that I resisted playing ball with it all
I wasn’t in it for the game.  Karma drove my play
More than systemic machinations: I never felt like

–A cog in something turning, never cared to—

I followed and worked through my karma: the issues and stages
I got out of my system, that were me, became what is not me
Yet not another; self—the salve and the wound
The problem and the solution, the lock and the key

I suppose I made too much of eternity
Some told me I was too old to be thinking like that
And yet, I am old now and had better be thinking like that
So why this desperation about credit from the system I never much rated?

I suppose it isn’t so much about credit, I have credentials
Damn craving for more laurels I will never rest on and smile!
I do smile, smile at who I was and am: this beloved self
This no self, no permanency, only eternity of states flowing into who I am

THE WHOLE WORLD SHOUTS, “YES!”

I passed the greater passage of my time alone

Sometimes I stood against the world and I felt fine

At other times, a peaceful solitude I’ve known

But all I was and all I did was only mine

 

Now my life is our life!  You are with me!  We two!

Your presence dances in my work, effort, ambition

New purpose that I never knew devolves from you

All for you, for us, is now my inspiration

 

With you my life is blessed

With you is happiness

With you I want the best

With you the whole world shouts, “YES!”

 

Now my world, my universe, is doubly joyous

Now I am we

And joy or grief for me is joy or grief for us

Solo so long, we two is all I ever want to be

AMBITION’S AMBIGUITY IN AGE

I’m not sure I know

 

How to about whether I can

Assert this point’s possible ambiguity

 

Things upon aging looking back

 

Ambitions to attain a name

Good job be important get ahead all the way to the top

 

Mystical experiences recast matters

 

I recall the litany I told the cabbie

Of failed attainments I felt entitled to by cheated life

 

Myself a failure disappointment and life half done things undone

 

Is it mysticism?  Workplace satisfaction?  Found love?

Olding?  That fuels my contentment

 

The whole question of ambition

 

Where’d that come from?!  How widespread in humanity

Nascent?  Acquired?  Self-imposed?  My grandmother?

 

My recasting of what I thought were failed attainments

 

In my age I realize that Swedenborg’s values were inscribed in maturity

For maturity?  And where would the world be without ambition in the younger

 

In my mind I distill a modicum of peak importances

 

And my failed ambitions fade into a fractured joke

And in my age I now understand Swedenborg’s values as mine

IN THE PEAK OF COVID-19

What was that I needed to get done today?

Well, nothing really—I can barely remember

When they shut us down, shut down my ambition

–“I have to what?!”—”Do what?!”–

That mandated sloth that tells me stall, stop

So I slouch upon my couch, and pass time

At times, I take the time to touch base

With a treasured book—which I never would have

Chasing time filled with needless activity

Chasing a job, a dollar, more money

No money and nothing to spend it on—

I would go to the mall, the bookstore, the casino

And with a home library filled with good books

I never did read, read now—sometimes

When I can find the incentive

And my poems that I organize to send out

Re-read, fix, edit,–search out publishers

When I can’t find the incentive

And just slouch upon the couch

And watch TV that I don’t like

Don’t like not doing what I want to get done

This mandated sloth, this slovenly lost ambition

Not even waiting for it all to be over

Just waiting on time, making time, taking time, time to get something done

Plenty to get done today, and nothing, really

Judgement Upon Life

I haven’t begun my life, at thirty six.

Marilyn was dead by then.

Was that a life?

Is there ever a life?

Will alienation

 

From childhood define time

Ambition, contention, compromise, corruption

Pass the years that wear

Complex adjustments upon sincerity

 

Until genuine doubt about how

Much sincerity is dissipate

Defines life.

As time passes–judgement upon life.