The World Without the Self


                               –with lines by Nye, Milosz, Jeffers, Snyder, Basho, Dunbar

Between conjecture and classification there is
observation, experiment, data (collection and analysis),
statistics, calculus, and a good guess
about God's intentions–probabilities, fractals, chaos and complexity.
This is the thunderous city.

The form of the poem, the rhyme.
Form cannot be first if you want to reach high artistic levels, since you are then bound
      by form, and that form is very often a betrayal of reality.
Yet I find I am attracted all the time
to philosophies in short skirts, jewels and eyes lined with kohl.
I love where her legs lead, to her very soul.

Three women hike by under an umbrella in a winter rain. Two men side by side run in rhythm.
An oil truck takes the hill in low steady gear.
My old Marine, 89, died last night without anxiety or fear.
May I overcome my pain enough to reach the place where the deer lay down their bones
and, like them, die alone.

When making an axe handle, the pattern is not far off.
The purpose of school is to introduce us to the world’s innumerable wonders.
The periodic table, World Wars I and II, Huckleberry Finn and Jim. But soft,
what light through yonder window breaks?
It is a billion trillion nuclear detonations per second without which nothing can be done or faked.

The temple bell stops, but the sound still comes out of the flowers.
Forests and the composite species will be nameless. Genetic prowess,
receiving the sacrament, performing Lohengrin from the Great American Songbook,
the look of love in all the wrong places, facebook,
fakebooks, folios of old family photos on or in pianos.

How can I be both still and skilled?
When we took Pop-Pop off the ventilator, we put him in a refrigerator.
He stopped eating, he stopped breathing. Circle with a dot.
He had his dream, he'd rowed his boat.
No single line can completely explain–or rhyme–or untie this knot.


Copyright 2013 by Robert Ronnow. Acknowledgements.