“The Newborn Other in the Manger”

There is someone in me who wants me dead,
some sadistic King Herod looking to behead
the newborn Other in the manger inside me.

It is unbearable to this King Self to be subordinate
to anyone, even someone within, and yet the King
Self cannot help but see all others as superior.

Everyone has something to kill for.
That one is more attractive, that one more spontaneous;
That one is kinder, that one gentler.

All are greater. The King is the least
of God’s doomed children, a lone creature,
a pitiful beast, destined to wander

like some grotesque Frankenstein
over the dividing mountains
with his unearthly self.

Walking with intent purpose to destroy
himself, King Herod, yet unable to bring forth
the Other while on this path of destruction.

Only by allowing Herod to be, it seems,
can the unseen one
find space to grow within.

There is now a vast chasm between Herod
and the newborn Herod wants dead,
but as the infant looks curiously into this void,

the space itself, and the violence
the space has created, borne of separation,
lessens. There remains always

a space, a space forever
large or small enough to ensure
the newborn in the manger keeps being born.

“Below Her, Another Self”

Below her, there is another self, the self she searches for,
But will she ever learn to receive, to let the other open the door?
She searches for one to save the self she wishes she could leave
How long in her loveliness must she search ‘till soul and body cleave?

She and I, we once were one, but split apart like conjugal twins
Racked with the pain of Catholic guilt, she asked pardon for her sins
“Pardon me,” she spoke in French, “je pense you’ve lost your sense,
Forgive my greater intelligence, I’m sorry you are so dense.”

So that was that, the thing was done, I wept and laughed by turns
Though many years have come and gone, the sting of loss still burns
A friend told me he met her in Japan, working as a geisha
If he had the choice—Cat’s Claw or her—he said he’d choose the Acacia

Below her, there was another self, and that self eluded my reach
Like silence in the city, like a distant island from the rocky beach
She was like Nietzsche: she hated to follow, and she hated to lead
She could live with very little, for to be herself was her only need

If I cannot be with her, at least let me find her likeness
I’m nowhere near midlife, so why am I always in crisis?
By the cypress trees, I feel the breeze touch me, like a long-lost soul
Touches a lover, desperate to feel the sensation of being whole

In a time of silence and waiting, I waited for a moment too long
Since my body lacked clear weakness, I was praised for being strong
In the darkest moment of the shortest day, I awoke to the nature of light
By the bark of the oak tree in the shade, I decided to rest for the night

I long to be at ease with another, the way I used to be with her
Alone together, we remained ourselves, neither needing to defer
Below her, there was another self, and such beauty is far above words
I hope she is free, free and unfettered, that her spirit soars with the birds

The Over-Lookers and The Under-Looker

You overlook me but I see under your looking over. I see how you only ever look over; I see how you do not look in. I see how you do not see me when you look out at me; you will never see me by looking out at me. You look out and over, and you see less than you look at; I look in and under, and I see more than can be seen by overlooking.

Do not think you are special in overlooking me. I do not think I am special in being overlooked by you. You overlook most people, and most people overlook me.

To overlook is one thing, to be overlooked is another, but neither causes me suffering anymore: neither your overlooking nor my being overlooked. To be overlooked in this world is reason to rejoice. To be overlooked in the world above is to be freely given by no one the invisible keys to the underworld, where things are seen truly and appreciated for what they are, where no one is seen for or forced to be someone they are not.

To be overlooked is to begin to look into, to become an under-looker. It will seem at first to the under-looker that being overlooked locks him out of the world. It is true that, in being overlooked, he is locked out of the outside world—where everyone is locked in. But now, locked out of the outside world, the under-looker is free (though initially it will not feel like freedom, for it is not at all like the so-called freedom of the locked-in world where freedom is not possible); now the under-looker is free to discover the unlocked world. “The objective situation is repellent,” how true, so now the in-looker looks under, now his deep gaze locks-in on the underworld, the only place he can and must go to shorn the heavy locks that bolt him to the outside world—where everyone is locked in.

To be overlooked, then, is to become (or to realize that one already was) an alien, an eternal wanderer in and an outsider to the outside world, to come to the understanding that one’s home can only be found inside the underworld. Only if the outsider finds that home, and is true to it, can he learn to be at home in the alien world above, but the important thing for the under-looker, what is first and foremost, though it is unseen by all and of no importance to most, is finding his home in the underworld.

I am more at home in the underworld; in fact, only in the underworld am I at home, for there nothing is overlooked. Everyone there sees into, and already there everyone is under, which is where everyone is above, though this is not seen.

But I go to the underworld alone. There is no ‘everyone’ there. There is only the one who goes under. Only where there is the one can I see. Only in the underworld, in the seeing under, in the in-sight, do I see myself for who I am. Only when I see myself for who I am can I see another at all. This is why I must go to the underworld, and why I must go alone. Look for your own way out from under those who look over you.

The over-lookers who look out may say to the outsider and the under-looker: ‘you are selfish, self-absorbed, indifferent to others.’ The over-lookers will say this fully believing themselves beyond reproach. They are not concerned with themselves, so how could they be selfish? Yet what those with such an out-look lack is a sense of the damage they themselves cause by their overlooking. They do not see what they do, for they do not see at all. They believe looking under is selfishness, but they do not see the selfishness involved in their own blindness. They are blind to what they cannot see, whereas those who look under see what the blind cannot. The under-looker sees the blindness of the over-lookers, he sees the damage this blindness causes to what exists invisibly but is no less true for that—what is truer when it stays unseen, what remains distinct when it stays hidden. To the over-lookers what does not exist above does not exist at all. In their blindness they wipe out the underworld.

To wipe out the underworld—what could be more selfish! What could be more selfish than looking over the under-lookers! For it is these very under-lookers—each in his own way, each in her own way—who see a way beyond selfishness, beyond the absorption with the self that the over-lookers, being who they are, cannot help but overlook in themselves. It is the under-looker who sees a way-out, while the over-lookers see nothing but what is already out, believing that by seeing what is already out they see the way out. But this is no way out. Absorbed as the over-lookers are with the surface that locks them in, they see nothing, not even what absorbs them! For there is much more to what is already out than can be seen—looking out. What is out is nothing without what spurs it out from under. If what spurs it out cannot be seen, nothing is seen, for what makes nothing into something grows out from the inside. The most distinct essence of the under-looker the over-lookers do not see, for the over-lookers see only what looking out lets them see, and the essence of the under-looker lies under, lies in looking in.

And what is the way-out the under-looker sees? Again, let me stress that no one under-looker sees the same way-out as any other. This is of the highest importance and must be made clear. It is not “a way out on which we can all absolutely agree.” No. It is a way-out for that particular under-looker, that ‘I’, and though another might not agree with it (because the other cannot truly see into it), it still remains a way-out for that ‘I’ who does see into it and can act out of it. But only that under-looker, who is not the same as any other under-looker and certainly not the same as any over-looker, can see into it.

Looking-under and seeing-into is not self-preoccupation, as the over-lookers would have you believe. In looking-under one locates precisely the faculty to see out of the inward self and into the outside world in a way true to the underworld. This is the very faculty that those with the overlooking outlook do not possess, for they know nothing of the existence of the underworld. By looking out, they lock themselves into the world above and so are necessarily selfish, though they might call their selfishness ‘real-world wisdom’ or they might call it ‘religious servitude.’ But how can the over-looker serve anyone? He has nothing to give because he sees nothing (though he believes he has everything to give because he sees everything), so his giving is no better than the most violent taking away; he has no wisdom to share because he does not look under (though he believes his wisdom lies in the very fact that he looks out without looking under), and so the wisdom he mechanically dispenses is on the level of the pez dispenser.

The over-lookers look out, and whoever looks out without having seen into is selfish, whether that over-looker believes he is a humble servant or whether other people look up to him, as he looks over them, and believe he is a cultural giant; whether the over-looker concerns himself with alleviating poverty or whether he concerns himself with amassing wealth. Either way he does not really concern himself at all, for if he were at all concerned with his self and with the way he lives then he would look under. If nothing else, what he would find there would be sure to give him reason for concern! If his outlook is such that he does not look under, he will overlook all those he claims to assist, his cultural prowess will have no lasting significance, the wealth he amasses (though it might all be gained in the name of his future progeny or to distribute to the poor), will only serve to keep him out of touch with what can truly be gained and cannot be lost. All gains that do not come from making contact with the untouchable in the underworld cannot last and will be lost. I have no interest in gaining what will be lost; I look always for what lasts, so I look under.

The preoccupation of the under-looker is with seeing into the self and seeing into the world in a way that sees both the self and the world clearly and does not overlook either. This is the only way of seeing that can lead to “a sense of brotherhood with something other than man,” as an under-looker once wrote. This ‘brotherhood with something other than man’ is the only type of brotherhood the under-looker longs for, as he has long existed as an eternal outsider and exile from the outside world of outward men. To be an outsider to the outside world—this is to begin to look inside, to become an in-looker and an under-looker. To become an under-looker, to find one’s home in the underworld—this is the only way-out.

“Dare only to believe in yourselves—in yourself and in your inward parts! He who doth not believe in himself always lieth.” Thus spoke Zarathustra. Honesty means looking out at and into the world in an undistorted way that is utterly one’s own. The under-looker knows that looking at the world selfishly is looking at the world through distorted, unseeing, over-looking eyes. To see totally without distortion—to see oneself as one is, to see every other person as that person is, to see reality as it is—this is only possible by looking under.

Put it this way: The under-looker looks into so he can look out of without overlooking, so he can truly see into and under everything that exists above and outside. Those who habitually look out cannot believe that anything more exists than what is already out, for they have not looked in. If they looked in, they might see more in themselves than what had seemed to them to be their self, or more likely they would see a great deal less. Either way they might begin to look under rather than overlook. But I doubt the over-lookers will have read this far, and if they have read this far they have probably overlooked everything I have written. How typical of the over-lookers, those who look out but cannot see past their own self-importance!

Self-importance begins with overlooking (though the overlooking ones believe the under-looker is self-obsessed and self-important), for the overlooking ones do not see the importance of anyone but themselves. In looking out without having looked into, they can do nothing but overlook. They do not see anyone; they do not even see themselves, for to see is to see under the surface, and the overlooking ones define themselves by their superior capacity to look out, to see what is above the surface. They call themselves practical, sensible, reasonable; they are the realists, the shakers and movers. Perhaps they even call themselves far-sighted. But, in reality, what does it matter if you can see far out if you have not seen deep into, if you see far out only in the world of what seems to be, and you have never seen into the underworld that truly is?

The over-lookers see what is above, which is far from all there is. They look at what is already out, what locks them in, without seeing they are locked in and in need of a way-out; they do not see what lies under what they overlook because they do not look under at all. They look only out; they do not look in.

I am not one of them. I am an under-looker. I look in.

Fiction: Plunging Into Myself

This morning I am feeling willful. No longer do I long for the singing birds of poesy to stir my heart and soul. No. This morning I will begin to understand myself through the power of will.

I have waited too long for no one; Now I seek myself; I pray I do not find no one.

I will not rest until I understand why I suffer from this invisible gaping wound in my chest. What is it to wait for no one? What does it mean? Is no one God? Is God no one?

I cannot stand any of that babble this morning, and I cannot sit here and spew it. I am disgusted with it all, and I am most disgusted with myself. Yet I will be myself.

No one will take that away from me.

I will be myself by creating myself. In creation, I will find myself. My self will find itself. No one can stop me, or only no one can stop me. But who is this no one? Did I not say I was done speaking of it?

Now I speak of someone: myself. But of whom do I speak of when I speak of myself? Is the self the invisible gaping wound, or is the self that which heals the wound through visible forms of willful creation?

Can the self heal its own wounds? I must be able to. If another tried to heal me, I would not accept it. For this is true: what the other believes is healing wounds the self like no other. I would spurn the other, even if it were the blue-haired sea-creature I once let bandage and hold me. No. I must hold up these wounds to the light and let the darkness heal them.

I will understand all that ails me and I will heal all these ailments through knowledge, through understanding, through passionate understanding and through intense personal knowledge.

I will not stand back from myself and heal myself like a doctor from the outside. I can never heal myself from the outside. For this is true: to try and heal oneself from the outside is to wound the truth of the self within.

Instead I must plunge into myself to meet what explodes out of me.

Longing For No One Still

A whole multitude of birds part me from sleep this morning. They sing me awake but they cannot sing me to stillness; still, I do love to hear them sing; for a few moments I give myself over to the listening. I do not want the sun to rise but would like Time to stop moving so I can remain in these moments that flee from me as the sun finds its way into my room. When the sun rises the people also rise, and whatever peace I had felt within me will turn to conflict, what clarity I had felt will turn to confusion as surely as the day begins, whatever light in me the darkness had helped to rise will fall again with the rising sun. But perhaps I will have a few moments shortly after the sun has risen when the other light lasts past its usual time. That is all I can ask of the other light this morning. Then I will willingly return to the darkness from whence I either came or willingly walked into one time, having heard that only there is one truly lit.

And who was it I heard that from? Someone who had been lit then burned and then finally cooled? Or someone whose burning slowly grew and was not extinguished? Was it someone at all who told me that? Or did no one itself tell me that?

I can be told nothing by those whose passion, though it does not have to be visible and outward, I can nevertheless clearly see has cooled or whose fire has extinguished completely. Would you believe that I can be told nothing by most people? For instance, would most people tell me to “wait for no one”? No, they would tell me instead to “seek out someone to love, seek out your soul mate, find happiness in love, find satisfaction in work, spend time with others, get out of yourself, pursue your desires and your dreams, live in the moment, do not think of the past or future, sleep well, eat well, work hard, hold on, be free, be still, find comfort and shelter, keep moving, be moderate, let go, dance with pretty young women, talk with wise old women, laugh with women always somewhere from ten to seventeen years older than you, and above all do not wait and allow all opportunities to pass from you. Above all go after what you lack, do not wait for it to come to you.” But I lack no one, and how can I go after that?

Would they harass me to speak before I am ready or would they allow me to be silent until the words arise out of me on their own accord? When finally I find someone who will tell me nothing, then I will be willing to listen. This is why I am waiting for no one. Someone is always telling me something. I have the feeling that only when no one can find me will I be told nothing. I am always listening closely to be told nothing, and that is why I wake up early when only the songbirds are up. They sing of nothing and I listen closely to their song. They tell me nothing and if I could listen to them telling me nothing all day and night as I wait for no one, I feel I would soon be given all the wisdom of the ages, which I would keep within me until the one I wait for, who is now not a one, finds me and in doing so becomes no longer no one but also still not someone.

Still I am not sure if I am even someone at all, and moreover I am not sure if I want to be someone, if in being someone I no longer wait for no one. Actually, I am quite sure I do not want to be someone. “Sure you do,” I hear from those ones who are always telling me something, “Use your talents, go after success, receive the credit due for the work you put in, give people hope, give them a reason to live, inspire them to greatness, inspire them to be someone as well. When people say to you, ‘now you are someone,’ then you will know you are someone. When people say to you, ‘you have given me the freedom to be someone, and who I have become has provided security and certainty in my life,’ then you will know you’ve done what you were put on this earth to do.”

But still I say I was not put on this earth to do anything of the sort; I was not put here to inspire anyone but rather to wait for no one. Certainly I was not put here to provide certainty for someone! If you do not understand that, you are probably someone yourself, hoping to be provided with certainty, which may well be the end of all hope, which I am not certain even exists in the first place. You’re probably always telling me something you’re certain is true. When I say I wait for no one, I am not telling you that. I am telling no one that. Remember that no one is my audience. Remember that I hope (oh yes!), yes I hope that no one reads this and comes to meet me in the place we decided on before it was decided by all those not me that I should become someone—like them. Then I was still no one; now, still not yet myself, I wait here for no one still. I feel like I’ve waited for many years, even when I did not know I was waiting. I have been waiting for no one long before I was told to be someone, and I will wait for no one long after everyone has given up on me, convinced I will never become anyone at all. By all means, I would say to them, go on being someone; I will continue to wait for no one.

I used to think I was waiting for someone. There were women I thought I longed for. Perhaps when she returns, I thought, I will be able to be myself again. She let me be myself, she loved me for the whole of who I was and also for the splits within me. If she returns I can again be the someone I no longer am. But although she brought out the someone in me, when I was with her I was no longer waiting for no one. I would forget about no one in her presence, forgetting also that before my search to be someone began I had been waiting to meet with no one, who was absent; I had been waiting for no one until I was sure I could meet it everywhere.

When I was with her, everything seemed indeed to be all that I had dreamed of and more; it seemed she was the one I had waited for, though she was not at all no one; she was someone, and someone as beautiful and fleeting as the purest snow falling in the night before the desert sun melts it the next morning. If I could not be with her while still waiting for no one, then I could not be with her at all. But it took me some time to understand the longing, time I spent longing for some woman, or other, time I did not yet know what I truly longed for, which I came to understand was for no one, in time. But how I still long!

Waiting For No One

The same sun shining through the window in this place I must have been before, this place a blue-haired sea-creature left and I returned to only to remember she could only dance alone. Always leaving and returning, always dancing and sitting still. Always looking for the ‘always,’ for what remains, for what is ceaselessly here and does not need to leave and return in order to be here without ceasing, what does not cease but whose activity is not meaningless. For what is more confusing than unceasing and meaningless activity? Doing in order to escape being, working in order to be paid for one’s efforts in fleeing the self. Yet, what is the flight I undergo as I rip apart “what constrains my heart to this prison from which I’m fleeing?” So I ended a poem. Is this a different sort of flight? Yes, for it involves ripping apart the chains, not simply avoiding the chains or going someplace where the chains aren’t nearly so painful, a place where one can forget the chains altogether.

The flight I undergo must go through rather than under or over the chains, cannot avoid them; must go through the self, cannot flee it. It is not a flight from self but a flight from the fleeing of self, from whatever forces the self to flee; it is a forcing of the self to remain with what it wants to flee and be free from, to remain chained until it is able to rip apart what chains it. It is a flight into and then a fight within, rather than a flight away from and a fight without. The outer fight is only ever a flight away from, can only ever put distance between me and what I must come near to, can only disconnect me from myself, from the flight into and the fight within.

The absolute necessity of this flight into and fight within can make me uncomfortable in any situation which requires me to flee away from and into the outer fight which never has made any sense to me. This is why I have a lost look in my eyes much of the time, or in overcompensation I have the driven, focused look of one who pretends he knows exactly what he is after. But do I know what exactly I am after? Would it be exact if I said I am after what brings me before my essential self, what brings my false self to its knees in agonized supplication, what brings me to a place where I can share in the agonies of others, seeing through the distorted expression of the soul and into the essence of their agony? Or would that be a poetic misleading, a flowing veneer like a roaring river just before it is dammed?

Is it possible for me to be exact? What exactly is possible here? What should I hope for? Should I hope at all? Some say hope sits with love on the top shelf of the most essential virtues; others say it is an illusion and inessential. It is essential that I see through illusion, but first I must know what is illusion and what is truth. Is hope essential or is it an illusion? Or is it an essential illusion? But there are no essential illusions; the two terms are contradictory. There is much in this world and in the self that is contradictory, however, and there is much truth in contradiction as well.

There is contradiction in that the self needs to undergo the fight within yet wants to engage in some outer fight so as to avoid and distract itself from the more essential fight. Is it right to call it an inner fight? It is a fight with no victor, no one standing over the others. It is a fight that ends in reconciliation, and the casualties of the fight were never alive in the first place. It is a fight that ends in aliveness, leaving dead and forgotten on the battleground only what never had existence. It is a fight that ends in soul after going through distortions. But the outer fight leaves on the battleground bodies whose souls had the potential to become fully alive. The casualties in that battle were not yet fully alive (for who is fully alive?), but they could have become so. Now they cannot. It is a fight that ends without any sort of true reconciliation, for true reconciliation is inner unity. The peace treaty only signifies that one side was more successful at fleeing the self than the other side.

Who am I writing this for? No one. I am writing this for no one. Only if no one reads this will I be happy, for no one is my audience. The more people who read it, the less happy I will be, for then I would be getting away from my audience, who is no one. If you are reading this, you are not my audience. By all means, read on, dive right into my confusion with me and we can sink a little bit deeper, or perhaps you and I together can float along long enough to be to be rescued by no one, who was my audience in the first place. No one will be sure to come by soon enough to where we are struggling to keep our heads above water. Is it a mistake to call for no one to come rescue me from sinking? Regardless, neither no one nor anyone will come. Perhaps you should leave; remember I did say you were not my audience. I am not here to sink with you. Search for someone to save you, by all means, while I wait here for no one. But do not think I wait here for no one passively or passionlessly. It feels to me like I wait here for no one as no one has ever waited anywhere for anyone. I wait here for no one perhaps like one who still waits for a lover after many years at the intersection of Despair and Hope, where the train to Bedlam crosses the train to Bedrock, where the train that never stops running passes the train that has not yet begun, and the one who is waited for is no longer anyone to the one who waits except in dreams. Do not think I wait here simply thinking. I can no longer think. I think now only of simple things. Is it too hot? It is too cold? Should I go out? Should I stay in?

While I am thinking of simple things, which is all I can think of anymore, I feel the intensity of my longing the way I feel the unbearable summer heat of the desert, multiplied by infinite degrees. Yet who do I long for? No one. Not a single human being. Not even her. Not anymore. I know how that longing ends, and I do not want a longing that ends. Yet this longing for no one is beginning to sear me. Do you think I wait for a dream? No, I must not have made myself understood. Let me try again. Let me, without trying to make myself understood, again express my longing in such a way that it cannot help but be understood, at least by myself. Is it myself or no one who I’m writing for?

I cannot help it if you read this; just remember that I am not writing to you. Although if you are able to remember what you have forgotten, I hope you remember also that this writing is a sort of forgetting, though its final goal is remembering. And what is remembering but forgetting the present to return to the past? I have forgotten the gift which turned out to be nothing of the sort that you handed to me just before I turned from you and walked without a map into the heart of the wilderness, though I didn’t know how to find what I didn’t know I had come there for, and my heart was in such unrest that the silence of the desert could do nothing at all to still it. Had you forgotten that? I would not believe it if you told me you had, but who am I to say I always believe my disbelief?

You must for a moment suspend your disbelief, suspend yourself in mid-air with me as we circle slowly downwards towards the heat of the balloon that rises to meet us, though we are in different hemispheres and I cannot see you. Because I cannot see you, does that mean the heat that rises will not meet in the space between us? Because there is space between us, does that mean I cannot see you?

The heat that rose in me cooled the passion an unearthly sea-creature felt for me, once she realized that this rising heat was not directed towards her, had not risen for her, did not rise for any human being. Again let me remind you that I wait for no one. I know the heat that rises in me, though it may reach the space between us, will not reach either of us when there is no longer any space between us and we are in a passionate embrace that lacks the rising heat. When the heat has risen above it slowly fades from below. And as the heat slowly fades from below the one who felt the heat slowly becomes separate from it, becomes cool, detached, indifferent, without the intensity that is his greatest strength. To burn continually one must have faith that the fire will not come to the surface to be extinguished but remain where it can burn slowly but fully, ever increasing in heat. Faith and patience are necessary as well as an ability to allow oneself to feel lost, given over to the lack of gravity in space while remaining locked into the seriousness of the task, out of one’s hands yet within one’s self.

“Feeling Empty in Myself”

Feeling empty in myself
I took to the highway
Where I rode under a menacing sky
Filled with vultures descending on sheep
Scattered amidst dew-covered grass by the sea
On that morning when the mist would not lift.

Feeling empty in myself
I opened and closed the cabinets of a desk
Looking for a letter she wrote me long ago
Her words overflowing with feelings
I once thought would fulfill me.

Feeling empty in myself
I filled up a notebook with words
Looking for the word
That would shorn me of myself
Long enough to be reborn.

Feeling empty in myself
I began to celebrate my fill of error
And lament my still-born success.
I undressed my undirected terror
And began to caress its undefended neck.

Feeling empty in myself
I discovered a dimly lit tavern filled with spirit.
Finding myself unable to soar with spirit
I sunk instead into soul
Until I could no longer hold under
What could only be driven up and out.

Feeling empty in myself
I imagined a life bounded by a journey never taken
Roads closing in on me as I hung on tight.
I put one hand on the ground
And raised the other to the sky
That the moon would soon overtake with light.