Thursday, January 23, 2014

Lines Composed a Few Miles Out of my Head while Fleeing an Unpacked Garage During Fall Cleaning

Athens, Georgia
January 26. 2014

                                           " … that blessed mood,      
In which the burthen of the mystery,      
In which the heavy and the weary weight
Of all this unintelligible world    
Is lighten'd:—that serene and blessed mood …"

Worse than wandering through Walmart
in search of the elusive item
the one true token
amidst a thousand false idols
assaulting my psyche
in aisle forty-two.

Harder than hosting a preteen soiree
in a darkened rollerdrome
where disco strobes sweep dingy floors
and racks of speakers blast strange tunes
to squeals of young she-sirens
circling their dreams.

You’ve been there too, I trust –
the tightrope frays
and you’re hanging by a torn nerve;
the coherence engine quits
and you’re stranded on the shoulder
with a thousand yard stare;

Your garage devolves
to Augean stables
and you, sir, no Hercules
as you stand, slump-shouldered
sweat strewn to entropy
amid the ruins of one less day.

I have wandered confused in the Khan el-Khalili
washed in the call of merchant and muezzin  
lost in the heart of the Grand Bazaar
through interior alleys of Istanbul
down halls of rug and spice
by all the bling you’ll never need.

And I’ve raced through the bowels of MIT
searching for a shifted course,
clock winding down on the final exam.
I do not remember the subject now
but learned her remorseless lesson –
a hard clock marks our mortal time.

So I seek the peace of pilgrimage
in a slow country drive
straight through the senescence of winter
over amber Georgia hills
across the muddy Oconee
to the company of poets

Where the blessed mood comes,
grace to the unworthy
which cannot be corralled
nor bartered, nor brokered, 
but sufficient for a day redeemed
as manna to the wandering mind.

(quotation from William Wordsworth, "Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye During a Tour, July 13, 1798.")

"Howard Finster's Bike Shop,"
photograph by David Noah, Winterville, Georgia