Intersections: …time does not really exist…

I sometimes (very rarely--when I somehow, strangely am not too 
embarrassed to--when I actually feel comfortable enough to--share 
with people that I actually write poems...) tell people, 
when this, that or another topic comes up in conversation,
“You know, I’m actually working on a poem about that.”

Recently, I have come to realize that often this “poem” that I 
am working on is often just a line or two sitting in its (or their) 
own otherwise blank document, waiting for me to finish it (or 
them)--sitting there in a primordial soup of meaning (or is it 
meaninglessness? I lose track...), like dry little sticks, poking up
through that pure white nothingness of snow, waiting for spring 
to come and the thaw to begin and the juices to start flowing up, 
up from the soil from which they are growing. 

So where or what is this actual “poem” that I say that I am working on?
(Is it the twigs? Is it the snow? Is it hiding in the earth underneath?)

It’s not the grouping of words that finally finds its way onto 
the page, and it's definitely not those one or two lines, sitting there, all
by their lonesomes on that big, blank, cold and lonely page.
It’s something else, something that existed long before I even knew 
where those one or two lines were going to go or where they came 
from or where they were going to take me. It's something that spoke 
to me with something more (or was it less?) than words. It's something 
that I sometimes think of as a constellation, for lack of a better word
to describe how this thing that hasn't yet made it's appearance in the
world feels, or felt, back before it knew what it wanted to be. It's a thing
that starts as a melange--part scent, part emotion, part kinesthetic 
feeling, part logical thought or conundrum or paradox, part memory or 
missing memory that pulls at me from the dark corners. 

It's like walking into a pantry (your grandmothers, your dream grand-
mother's, your dream grandmother's dream), full of spices and herbs and 
root vegetables, dark and dusky autumnal reminiscent golden light and 
being overwhelmed, dumbfounded and found dumb and mute, being 
stopped right their in the tracks that you only just now (by virtue of this 
thing happening) realize you were riding on (when you thought you 
were in control, thought you were in the pilot's seat), by.....


...and then trying to put that something into words because words are all 
that you have and you know--you just Know--that someone, somewhere 
has had that something in their hands before, had it run between their 
legs like an obstinate feline, they've felt it brush by them, felt that very 
same thing's whispery wing push a gentle breeze across the skin of their 
upper arm and you just KNOW that you have to tell them, "I felt it too." 

The poem is a thing that exists outside of time and space. It was 
there even before I wrote those one or two lines and it is something 
that is also else and other than the final thing that eventually 
finds its way on to the page.

“A poem is nonetheless present from the conception, from the first 
germ of it crossing the mind—it must be scratched for and exhumed. 
There is an element of timelessness. The leading atomic scientist 
in Australia agreed with me the other day that time does not really 
exist. The finished poem is present before it is written and one 
corrects it. It is the final poem that dictates what is right, what 
is wrong.”
—Robert Graves (from an interview in Paris Review)

“Even the right words if ever
we come to them tell of something
the words never knew”

--W. S. Merwin (from “What the Bridges Hear”, in his brilliant book 
of poems, The Shadow of Sirius)


It is thanks to Holly Lofgreen that I have come back to this Intersection
and finally finished it and posted it after it sitting in my drafts folder for
at least a year. We have been discussing this ephemeral nature of the 
poem--where it comes from...where it goes--which has helped me to 
crystalize these thoughts. 

There is power, real power--the kind that comes 
from a vulnerable honesty--in her work.

You need to read her. 

12 thoughts on “Intersections: …time does not really exist…

  1. OK; so, the words themselves are neither bevelled in or out of the material they appear on (paper, stone … neither are they cut out by scissors), so they are not of the material they appear on; and yet appear they must from the maelstrom of cacophony brushing the leaves and grit round in the closed doorways of the mind, otherwise nothing makes sense; and yet, also, they can haphazard onto paper and make no sense to someone else who doesn’t care, or is too young, or is just not tuned-in (or dropped out) to parse, or even to oneself; there needs to be a meeting – an alignment – of the maelstrom of the writer, the words ‘toned’/’tuned’ up out of the maelstrom, … annnd the reading of the reader eyes wide open to their own maelstrom, whether the reader is the writer herself or not (and, yes, I am thinking of the alignment of the planets and the sun which inaugurated the appearence of the obelisk to the apes which flung the bone into the air which waltzed gracefully to dock with the space station in the blink of time; c’mon, now, are you with me, are you with me!); a good writer attunes the words to mean whatever sense he can make, a brilliant writer arranges the words ‘just so’ (like ikebana) so that the words can accommodate a range of tunings (… chords, melodies, symphonies) depending on the skill of the reader’s readings; every good writer needs a good reader (even if only oneself), every brilliant writer is a doorman with a nice brown suit, top hat, a toothsome smile and a deep bow; words are metaphors, and metaphors ‘participate in that to which they point’ (Paul Tillich, my emphasis), participation is, at least, a three-way intersection

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Mark. You have hit upon so many things that I have been thinking about regarding words and poetry, so many things that if they were nail-heads I’d be all buttoned up, cozy in my little shack, dark word-critters, slithering about in the corners, constellations whirring about my head, making me dizzy, woozy by the warmth of the fire of shared experience, in a state of correlative communion in my own beggar’s temple.
      I thank you, my friend.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. A constellation. I love that! How true, because aren’t we always trying to identify creatures up there in the stars too, and the exhumation process of “finding” the poem that exists before us and after us and, even more, outside of time is a delicate one—as delicate as finding some centering or truth or image in the night stars.

    I think we’re both from Outer Space….

    Thank you for the shout out.

    And those twigs in the whiteness of the snow—well, it’s those first few sentences that can either lead me to a certain measured success or expose me as an imposter during some particular effort. And when I like those first lines, I get hung up on that which I like about them, and I go nowhere. This being human is a bitch, but the meaning making through poems—this whole exhumation process—it’s so exhausting.

    Thank you. Again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are most welcome. “Imposter syndrome”–Yes, it is I think, perhaps unavoidable as soon as one begins to take oneself seriously. But I assure you, you have nothing to worry about. You are the real deal. The fact that you worry about it proves it. So it’s kind of the opposite of “being cool”? Or like being a parent–often times the simple fact that you worry about doing a good job means you’re probably doing a good job.

      When I was (much) younger and walking was my main form of transport, streetlights would often go out as I walked under them. My wife is convinced that I was abducted by aliens. Apparently this phenomena is a sign…..

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My undying love for your words continues. This was unexpected, and it seems, long-due. I’m glad I got to be a part of it. I feel like I spend so much time writing… but just now I got to be a reader, and feel elevated. Thank you. I’ve also flipped over to Holly’s blog and will follow along with her journey, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A melange, a constellation where synaesthesia reigns. 🙂 This is an utterly beautiful description of what a poem is. Sigh. And the photos! The images and text are brilliant together. I love the Merwin quote. And I like that a conversation with another sensitive human helped you nudge this piece into shape and get it over here, where I could read it. What a feast.
    I was just reading about constellations of birds this morning…Henry Beston (1888-1968)….The Outermost House: A Year of Life on the Great Beach of Cape Cod.
    “Standing on the beach, fresh claw marks at my feet, I watch the lovely sight of the group instantly turned into a constellation of birds, into a fugitive pleiades whose living stars keep their chance positions; I watch the spiraling flight, the momentary tilt of the white bellies, the alternate shows of the clustered, grayish backs”…..”No aspect of nature on this beach is more mysterious to me than the flights of these shorebird constellations. The constellation forms, as I have hinted, in a moment of time, and in that same instant develops its own will. Birds which have been feeding yeards away from each other, each one individually busy for his individual body’s sake, suddenly fuse into this new volition and flying, rise as one, coast as one, tilt their dozen bodies as one, and as one wheel off on the course which the new group will has determined.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am so glad that you connected with this, Lynn. And I am honored by your words.

      I feel that my images and words are just beginning to speak the same language, as it were, something to do with, yes–time bending and yet becoming (or being?) still (thank you for that!), and something that my dear friend Trent Lewin said about my photos making him feel sometimes like he’s in a time machine…..there is something in all of this in my words and images (and now I’ve gone and thrown Music into the mix! more on that soon….) that has so much to do with time and memory and hanging on and letting go….

      I feel as though I am now coming to grips with something that I should have started working on about 30 years ago, but ah well……

      And yes–this also has so much to do with “fellow humans” and the help that I have received here in finding my voice and my vision from so many people like you–I cannot thank you enough for your input and responsiveness to what I do here.

      The Merwin quote is from my favorite book of his poems and from one of my favorite poems:


      What the Bridges Hear

      Even the right words if ever
      we come to them tell of something
      the words never knew
      celestia for starlight
      or starlight for starlight
      so at this moment there may be words
      somewhere among the nebulae
      for the two bridges across the wide
      rock-strewn river
      part way around the bend from each other
      in the winter sunlight
      late in the afternoon more than half
      a century ago with the sound
      of the water rushing under them
      and passing between them unvarying
      and inaudible it is still there
      so is the late sunlight
      of that winter afternoon
      although the winter has vanished
      and the bridges are still reaching across
      the wide sound of being there


      He has such an amazing way of truly condensing things. A poem about a word that never existed to describe a time and a place that will never be again….


      I adore the quote that you shared and that brings me back to music–I have been learning about making music on my computer and relearning about music-making in general and toying now with the various ways that words (mine and others) and images and music can come to convey something ephemeral and transitory and I swear I could here this quote by Beston being read with a musical background. This is something that I will be pursuing in the next year. And I thank you (again!) for another spark of inspiration. I shall be seeing if this book is available at my local library…..and I think that you will see how it chimes with my first planned post of 2021….coming tomorrow, i hope…..

      Liked by 1 person

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