(NOTE: This poem was written in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990, in the midst of the genocidal wars that subsequently broke out in the former Yugoslavia. It is republished here in commemoration of the new outrages sanctioned by the US/EU/NATO cabal in Eastern Ukraine.)
Nobody knows in what direction
that thing goes.
You hold it up to your heart
and it seems to grow hair and a face.
It speaks through your ribs,
informing you that life is dangerous.
You are somehow made safe
because it is there to soothe you
and make you ready.
There is so much thought
that remains unsaid.
It is important that everyone be heard,
including even the dead.
Wait for the moment. It is certain to arrive,
whether it is the wrong or the right one,
it will be there when you need it, dead or alive.
Fortunately, nobody saw it arrive.
If we had known it was coming
we might have had the sense to be afraid.
Yesterday, it wasn’t even thought of,
and now it’s here.
You don’t know what water looks like,
or even what it really does
until it finally engulfs you.
We were waiting for something,
but we didn’t expect this.
Now that it’s here,
it is suddenly all too familiar.
We knew even then
that we ought to have known.
“The division of functions into two separated hemispheres is what makes us distinctively human, distinctively creative, and distinctly isolated from our own mental processes. It is the most recent development in human evolution, less than 4 million years old.”
“Babies choose to hear speech in the right ear
and heartbeat in the left."
It is as though the present has caught up with us because we were running backwards, we were so certain the future was certain and whether we ran to embrace it or ran to escape it, it was coming and it had a definite shape but the categories of optimism and pessimism have no longer any meaning.
They are shooting at children in Sarajevo and in Rio, hoping to achieve political objectives. What they really want is to ensure that the future will remain the same as the past. They feel safer that way. Hatred and destruction are the easiest actions. Who, after all, can describe the shape and appearance of love.
He rammed a bullet into the chamber. He fired his load. What had been created by nature was suddenly ruined. Yet there was always another one waiting in the shadows to walk into his sights. He would not be satisfied until they were all gone. He was ready for any kind of emptiness, but not for that plenitude. The sight of grief to him was evidence that the human soul was at last being eliminated.
Remember the way they talked. Everything was irony and bitterness. We are not safe they were saying, we are not safe. They wanted to be safe, and in order that they could be safe, it was necessary that we should remain in fear. It was necessary to provide blood and corpses, but especially the horribly wounded to make us know that our desires were unacceptable. Please get ready for the future. They will not lay down their arms.
“Yes, Sir, I think I heard a mother calling her little boy somewhere. It seemed to be something that happened years ago.”
“Yes, I heard voices down along the river somewhere--a man’s voice and a woman’s voice calling...I think I saw the river.”
“Just a tiny flash of a feeling of familiarity and a feeling that I knew everything that was going to happen in the near future.”
Neurophysiology can predict that you will move your finger before you can predict it—“contingent negative variation”: gradual shifts in the electrical potentials--also “readiness potential” which begins to appear from about a half second up to three seconds before the beginning of any consciously willed movement and only before consciously willed movements.
“...the simpletons below consciousness.”
Experience assembles in the mind in a fleeting instant.
No time for thinking: just a best guess.
Later chapters and events will show
this process is much like a dream.
“...weaving the signals into a known semblance,”
Intrepreting the dream, the dreamer
dreams the same dream twice.
The brain imposing Oneness
on the various parts of the body. Alone
it makes the distinction
between me and the rest of the world,
having no sensation
of its own existence.
Descartes: “And I continued by showing what the network of nerves and muscles of the human body must be, to enable the animal spirits to move its members as one sees when freshly severed heads still move and bite the earth although they are no longer alive.”