Vacating Your Premises


[A poem that follows on from the last post on euthanasia and dying, as well as the previous blogged extracts on mysticism and Zen and a very early blog called ‘The Witness’. Probably for the older reader, or maybe not, given the perennial existential challenge of letting go? Took the photo in Wollongong a few years back. Cloud and sky, form and emptiness, being both…]

Vacating Your Premises

Live in the nowhere that you came from,
even though you have an address here.

That’s why you see things in two ways.

– Rumi

Sometimes all is river, runs, meanders,
passes, and that feels right as rain. Other times
it doesn’t. Sits there, stuck, a stagnant pool
of premises breeding buzz- and fever-mind.

Ripe fruit falls and the soil is happy.
Yet we, Rilke wrote, want to be eternal
blossoms continually kissed by flattering bees.
We record, measure our body machines,
tramp treadmills, implant plastic, pop pills,
go paleo, un-friend friends. Pretend
we are not afraid, that it hasn’t always
been about anything but letting go.

Seldom now when the veil lifts, heart
opens out to some stranger on the street,
a paraplegic selling flags, a baby sleeping,
or the epiphany of a plastic sphere filled
with vivid lollies caught in long winter light
in front of a shop. Yet this, this
seems the natural state, all else distraction,
ego-cement, a learned word-fog
the brain exudes on default. So,

let’s say you’re standing with someone
at a dinner party. The conversation
is all Ain’t It Awful and newspapery.
You engage with a gusto that belies
your boredom. You hear yourself talking
with passion, and are surprised, watch
this performance while totally immersed.

Are you ‘demonstrating’ a persona
in best Brechtian fashion? Whence
this doubleness? Who is this
out there reaching out into the world,
who this, inside, watching, elsewhere?

Yet where? Will there come a point where
the stage darkens, the costume shrivels,
the make-up fades to white and cold sweat?
Won’t you, fearful, also breathe a sigh
of relief? Won’t you, hurting, wing-watch
this passing too, perhaps with wistful joy?
Who knows. Could be you’ll just scream
for morphine, be nothing but Mouth.
Can’t remember the last passing.

But euthanasia on tap? Count me out.
Who is to say that dancing old woman
screeching swearwords in the special ward,
flying demented nickers under nurses’ noses
like a pirate flag, is not engaged in earnest
spiritual work burning off another mask?
Who knows what, un-selfed, the bare rock or air
of essence looks like, the poor forked animal
naked on the notorious heath, blasted

by elementals, the wolf’s dispassionate
teeth necessary as Mary’s little lamb?
At the centre of spiral star-swirl, thus us,
a black hub of nothing. Nada. Nix.
This is no basis for politics or getting
through the day. How in heaven, say,
can everything be necessary, even hell?

Yet we know, first, taughtness is taken,
silken skin. Then: parents, old friends,
the familiar place you lived for years or
put the key, hearing, sight, own phone number,
used book shops, the obviousness of gender.
Last, it’s memory, supposed specialness,
your name, those arbitrary phonemes
your parents magically branded you with,
yet never fully fitted.

Is it now the nameless, open to all or nothing?
Time, perhaps, to untwist the fatal skein,
tearlessly peel the proverbial onion, empty
the diminishing sequence of Russian dolls
down, or up, to some first & final nowhere,
some now-where; time to vacate the old premises,
finally be filled with what really is, as if
all that raging no-thing were simply you.


~ by Peter Lach-Newinsky on March 8, 2016.

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