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Things as they are



The meeting of St Zosima and St Mary of Egypt







Words cracked open and us
scoffing the pulp.
Where is the 'I'
in all those pretty lies?

The 'I' that is
by definition facing
something else, the poet all
(and literally all) embracing.

It is the light cracks open
the particles of sand.
The sand is and is not the light
and in that is/is not, it is.







The fear of Hell, sprung from out of
the entrails - they are not
my entrails - like another
me walking beside me,
like a badge, it is
but, when we are dead,
what else have we
other than the imagination, which is not
my imagination, but which is
continuous, despite me.







It (which is not I, but is not
other than I) secretes,
out of myself, space,
as a spider secretes its web.

And then I wait.

Oh! what will fall into my web? What beautiful,
diaphanous creature I can call my own? But mean-
while, while I wait, slowly,

I am eaten up by time.

I am eaten up by time,
as by a spider, yet
time is only my own memory.
I am eaten up by my own memory.
And so my memory is not "my" memory, but
a continuity, and I/not I
walked in the Garden of Eden
and fire-bombed Tokyo.

I would like to see
only my own web
­ the web I think is my own.
I will pronounce it to be "spiritual".
I will call it "the noosphere".

He (who is not I but is not
other than I) is not - pace
Schopenhauer - "nature",
nor "the will", nor "life"
but Man, Adam -
and he is living in prison
shut away from the light.
But, if he would only look,
Christ has broken open the doors of his prison,
this Easter morning.







I am absurd, O Lord,
shining and white,
standing in the assembly,
smiling inanely
and, splashed all over the carpet,
to the left and to the right
(where, surely, everyone can see),
the sins that have been quite
washed out of me.







Are all demons evil, are all
demons equally evil?
I have come upon
(sitting in my stomach)
a lonely little demon,
weeping, oh this
wrong-headed turning, twisting,
forces of consciousness
pushing their way through us,
is this ineffable loneliness
evil? a little, lost
gregarious devil,
longing for another heaven,
a little, personal heaven,
a deviant heaven, every
demon is aflame with a
longing for heaven.

The city is full of them,
all those little, lonely heavens,
crowds in the street, moth-eaten,
great holes in the tatters
of our humanity.
Still, some of us are better
than others, aren't we?
Aren't some demons
better than others?
Isn't it better
to run after this
than to run after that?

I have known
(sitting on my shoulder)
an angry demon, shouting -
surely his anger is right, surely
it is better than
not to be angry? -
telling me of the blasphemers
and of the animal torturers
and of the soft pornographers
and of the genetic engineers
and of the advertisers
and of those who,
guilty of the deaths
of thousands of children, smile
and smile
and smile
and smile
and smile.







"This is a hard saying. Who can bear it?"

Washed from the inside out - against
this thing that I call - abusively -
my will, cleaned by Your Presence
sloshing about inside of me,
like a piece of bread I might use to clean a plate.
Like an absorbent sponge
I might buy in a supermarket,
He - Lord of the Universe - takes all that filthiness
into Himself, the emptiness,
time, washed out by the Fullness,
Eternity, and this thing that I call
- abusively - my will,
just about good enough to wash my face,
all I want of it is that it should watch,







The magical force of a
combination of words cut up
in a series of lines - of course
there is no magical force, but still,
surely the poet must have seen something,
like a mouse.
You don't know if you've seen it or
if you haven't (but you know you have).







In this place,
everything is still, any
noise is a shock.
No-one is
laughing here,
in this place, above
everything that happens,
above and below
and inside and out.
It requires,
this everywhere,
silence and darkness.
This is the most dear
above thinking, here thinking
is a distraction,
demons, dreams and wishes
are only a nuisance.
The vibration of
strong emotion shrinks
this space, which is
normally very big, any
contrary vibration, contrary
space (e.g.
is ruinous.
In this place what was
continuous has become saccadic,
what was saccadic
has become continuous.
I am living in an un-
finished dot drawing.
This is the house of prayer
where David went.
I am huddled in a dark
corner of his tent.
Here I have not seen God,
but I (and everyone with me)
have known a lovely
darkness from too much light.







I stop and where I stop
the devils crowd about me, urging me on.
In this stopped state, crammed full of violence,
I think of Father Symeon,
stopped above the world where every
sort of movement, good
or bad, becomes intense,
or (we should
perhaps say) conscious.
What is always there,
a still small voice,
becomes enormous.
Enormous, these
angels and devils,
hosts of angels and devils,
warring on a pillar.
That disorderly, external
semblance of movement hides
the greater, fuller
more eternal, internal
agitation turning to
an order, that
order is form ­
'Form and movement are but one.'
So the picture, itself unmoved,
sets off a
circulation of the blood.
So on his pillar, stopped in prayer,
this crazy man is regular,
like the stars,
Deiform ­ like the multitude of stars
(for we insist,
in opposition to the Western school,
that spirit is complex
and God, in His Energies, is multiple).
Who could be more
opposite to us
than this
master of stillness,
no longer charging
this way and that, but







I do not have,
because I do not deserve,
I do not have
what would be needed to build
­ those right twigs.
Those wrong twigs
I have collected for years
wage war against me,
wage war against each other,
and the foundations are not laid.
Is the foundation Christ?
but the icon of Christ
has not yet been painted
and tonight I walk away.
I do not even pray.
Israel, oh God,
is a warring with God,
the whole history of Israel,
Jacob wrestling with the angel.







Do I exist
other than for Him,
which is to say,
in His mind, do I
exist, other than for him,
or her, in his, or her
memory, do I,
once I have ceased
to exist, as I will
right now, exist
other than in you, etcetera,
which is to say,
do you exist,
any more than Him,
now that you have become
in time, mythical,
which is to say,
hidden; moment after moment
(but there is no such thing
as a moment), what you were
disappears, becomes
a figment of the imagination.
You are not what you were.
What is what you were
now? It is a memory.
It is in spirit,
and what we call 'matter',
the table and the chair,
moment after moment
(but there is no such thing
as a moment), they disappear,
the imagination, memory,
mind eats up
every observation.
Observation into memory,
where what you see of me
(here on this paper)
stays, and if memory
turns to the Spirit,
is one with Him,
turns about Him, then it is there,
circling, unchanging,
standing somewhere
on solid ground.
Oh, where can I find
that memory
that can hold me
safe and secure
as a substance, since
it is not to be believed
that these records, these speeches,
these words that float before you,
and him and her and it and you and I,
myself, are.







That stuff, vibrating somehow through the air,
how can it, vibrating somehow
through us, not
touch on those other
vibratory phenomena,
human and divine and animal energies?

We who are resonators, can you imagine
that this whole launching
of waves through the air is neutral?
Never do they cease to pass
through our bones, from the cradle
to the grave, these frivolous
talk­shows, games and violent
movies, not to speak of
a million, billion, trillion
telephone conversations.

Now not even the desert
is available to us.
Nowhere is there freedom
to enter into vibratory
union with God without
Interference and a static (other than our own
usual incompetence).

If we cannot pray,
it is not because of our 'enlightenment',
but because of noise -
a noise that does not reach the ears
but still is running, regular,
all too regular, in the blood,
so that the exchange
of consciousness to consciousness,
God to man and vice
versa becomes
mechanical, manipulable (but
not plastic) like
a digital image,
held always in front of our eyes and
endlessly, stupidly,
blinking at us.







The intellectual flesh is crawling
with millions of little
commentators, chattering, burrowing
their way into the
making themselves at home in the
recesses of the body, so that we are clad
in a coat of worms -
worms that, full of memories,
of past, heavenly joys,
themselves cannot rise.
We are dragged down now
by a coat of gold.

The shattered image of
our nature constitutes
another coat, a coat
of shards, of broken glass,
which has, nevertheless,
this strange property:
that it is us, and not
the world about us we parade.
We are thus dressed
in our own multitude.

But here we are now,
dressed in a face,
but it is not our face,
but the face of one
who does not like us,
but who is quite content
to put us on like a coat,
to confer upon us
his own, incoherent unity.

I would like to put on
the nakedness of Adam,
but it is high. I cannot attain to it.
And so I sit in the antechamber,
waiting patiently,
with, passing by in front of me,
the Red Army of humanity.







We who are lying here
under a pile of stones,
waiting for nothing,
how can we turn to you,
like an angel? what does it mean
to us, 'Rejoice'?

We who are busy forgetting
the destruction of Europe ­
Berlin, Hamburg, Dresden ­
scions of Europe's
murderous genius.
Oh Europe! Europe! What is there
in it for us?
How can we say, 'Rejoice'?

Rejoice that God is become
a baby in the womb ­
who is there left,
among all this factious
well-being, who could
imagine such a thing?

She was the creation
of two thousand years; it took
the whole history of Israel
to fashion her.
Our two thousand years
sounds as a meaningless noise.
How can we say 'Rejoice'?







The joy
of my retrouvailles
with the other boys
when I was only six
will be prolonged
up to the present day
and, in a little while,
to the loss of my family,
to prison
and to public







What is it that is
making the decision in this
moment when I am not
in prayer, and thoughts
wash, backward and forward,
forward and back, when suddenly
standing in the sea, I see
Giant Despair, who
at least has this much to be said
for him, that he assumes
a definite form.
He at least is something, so I walk
through all the not quite somethings
of my life, into his
embrace, as I would have embraced
Christ, were it not for this immense
spiritual weariness.
Despair too is pure
spirituality, and so much
easier than hope.
Delivered up
to spirits of the air, those incomplete and cloudlike
figures who appear
and disappear, moments
in a symphomy by Mahler, how can I
tackle the giant?
He will throw me down, and down, I too
will assume a form,
I too will enter
into Eternity.