Between the Flippers
We are to the gods as flies to wanton boys;
they kill us for their sport. (King Lear)
Thirteen-Year-Old at the Wheel
Get off kilter
get used to it
Life's a carnival, old chum
that's how it goes
or a pinball game
and you're the ball
Some thirteen-year-old's at the helm
and your spirit's "little bark" is being driven
for the third time, toward the cliffs
Three strikes and you're out
no time left to find the perfect quote from The Divine Comedy
or the tragedy of King Lear
all the capital works have no ball bearing
simply because a girl walked in
and the boy's hormones quickened a beat
and he pushed too hard and
TILT! your little boat capsized
and you fell back into the sea
O voi in picchioletta barca...
Forget about REPLAY
or keep dreaming
about a different game
Three Strikes and You're Out
Someone put in a quarter
and sent you flying out the chute
and then a whole bunch of things happened
bright lettered cubes, jacks, roulette tables, queens
bumping up against rubber
bouncing off each other
money signs flashed
50 THOUSAND ONE MILLION DOLLARS
but you couldn't use the numbers
to buy anything that counted
no clothes of your own, no car
because you were just a poor naked steel ball
rolling, not even stoned
or coked to the gills
(though you were once a fish)
you only had three lives
(though you were once a cat)
and you ended up being (or not being)
just another element
ashes to ashes, metal to metal
hurled in some strange sport
by a wanton boy
Numbers drove some other intent
this way and that
until a pretty girl walked in
und the boy got distracted
and his heart beat doubled
and you slipped between the flippers
The Shadow & the Butterfly
Alice, are there, or are there not, strawberry fields on the other side of the mirror?
You may have tripped when you were young, yet this is different. This death may be — or may not be, Ramakrishna — the first and only time this happens to you, but it's certainly nothing new. Nothing to get hung about.
In the time of the Ancient Greeks, East of the Taklamakan, Chuang Tze said the same thing in an extended metaphor: the Penumbra (the edge of a shadow) asked the Shadow why he did what he did. The Shadow didn't know. He could only refer the Penumbra to a body about which he knew nothing. That body moved because of other bodies and other things. He had no clue what those were doing.
This is Chuang Tze's preamble — the penumbra, if you will — of his famous parable about the man who dreamed he was a butterfly. When he woke up, the man wondered if he was a butterfly dreaming he was a man.
This isn't Neil Diamond's story of a man who dreamed of being a king / and then became one. It isn't about rags or riches, rainbows or pots of gold. It's about the difference between being a fish or a human, a butterfly or a fly, a cat or a dog. It's about being.
I can't help thinking back to the bodies and their shadows. And the edges of their shadows. About what happens when one penumbra makes contact with another.
And about what else belongs to the worlds of dogfish and lark.