Ode of the Unknown Man

[Recent poem. Took the shot of the great street-poem poster last year in Paddington, Sydney. The poster uses a famous, ‘iconic’, Australian photograph of a sunbather by Max Dupain.]

Ode of the Unknown Man

Unknown to himself,
he relished his many modes & masks,
the joys of acting:

a small child in trains singing Row Row Row Your Boat Life is But a Dream
a butcher letting the sheep’s entrails plop out into the bin
a nursing mother in moon-deep daze at 3 am
a pilot on automode helplessly flailing against an algorithm
a conflicted girl hiding behind her hair
a monk staring at a wall for nine years for nothing
a cloud imagining itself
a teacher, unprepared, knowing she has nothing to teach
a rolling stone gathering memories and moss
a priest overcome by his lusting pain during mass
an oak tree laughing down its rain of sparrows & acorns
a soldier dancing with his enemy along the fake front
a brooding rock of ages under which sat an iridescent toad …

Then one day, while walking, the landscape
was where he thought his head was,
moving by in a stillness lucid as a window
a vast emptiness as real as his boots,
normal as nothing. Again, smiling,
he took down the next mask

~ by Peter Lach-Newinsky on July 26, 2019.

3 Responses to “Ode of the Unknown Man”

  1. …oh those masks…

  2. Hah! My masks are as infinite as the shadows that stalk me…and how does one get rid of shadows?

  3. Re shadows and ‘getting rid of them’, here’s a little story. There was a man who’d had a troubled childhood, now in his late twenties, studying philosophy, getting ever more deeply depressed. One night around 2 am he woke up, his brain filled with the suicidal thought: ‘I can’t stand myself any longer.’ Suddenly, he noticed that there were two subjects in that sentence: the I that stood calmly outside judging and observing and the observed irksome ‘myself’. Upon realizing this, he experienced enlightenment, insight, sartori, as some kind of an immense energy vortex. When he awoke in the morning he was totally present in the Now and the sensuous world was as if completely new. He spent the next two years doing nothing but enjoying being simply present to Now, mainly on a park bench in London. Later he was surprised to find people started approaching him for psychological or spiritual guidance, so he became a spiritual teacher. He later wrote a book called The Power of Now.

    The story helped me. The man’s name is Eckhart Tolle. He calls the shadows the ‘painbody’ or ‘ego’. Am I (identified with) the painbody/ego-patterns, or am I that which, however briefly, disidentifies with it, sees it, observes it arising, acting out, passing? Hard to practise, the presence to the Now, whatever it is, without falling into, identifying with, old response patterns of the painbody/shadows…But your two sentences in your comment are already outside, free of, the shadows, naming them. Could that which wrote those sentences be who you really are? Wave or Ocean, cloud or Sky?

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