Reflections on Time

Reflections on Time

This is the first of a series of brief essays that expand upon the ideas expressed in my poems. Let me begin with a poem:

Time’s Fools

Time is the Master that controls us all.
What was, is. What will be, was.
We are all Time’s Fools,
Who clown and caper as it passes by

All of Time exists.
We have but a little bit of it,
To hug, and hold, and do kind deeds.
Our piece of Time, of course, must have a stop,
So let’s begin.

Time is truly our master, but it is also our window, our small and cloudy window into the profound mysteries we can never comprehend.

Most people think of me as irreligious, and in the sense that most people use the word religion, I am. But I have a spiritual and philosophical side. For me, Gödel’s Theorem holds the key to how we should think of the immense vastness that is beyond our ken. Gödel proved that (to simplify a bit) for any given system there exist propositions that cannot be understood from within that system.

For me, that is it exactly – we must accept the fact that there are things we cannot know, mysteries we cannot solve. Consider the strange mystery of Time. It is one if the fundamental properties of the Universe. In that sense, Time is static and eternal. But as we live our lives, it seems as though we move through it at an ever-increasing pace. Time feels dynamic.

I cannot resolve this contradiction, and perhaps I have no need to do so. These days, the only quality that seems real is decay – the decay of our bodies, of our minds, of our civilization.

My hope is that, in some mysterious way (that word again!), I exist simultaneously in a multitude of universes, in some of which, at least, I do not make the same mistakes. But that is probably wishful thinking. I suspect that Time will stop for me at some point in the not distant future, and my regrets will not matter.

That’s why I say – Begin!

 

Death’s Blue-Eyed Boy

My father was certain
What would happen.
“Like snuffing out a candle,” he’d say.
“Like turning out all the lights in the world at once.”

I have a different take on death:
I think I’ll pass
Into an alternate universe,
Where I’ll get another chance
To do it right.

Poetry Reading

I am pleased to announce that I plan to do my first poetry reading at the Atlas Coffee Company, 300 South A St, Ste 4 Santa Rosa on Wednesday, January 31st.  Doors open at 6PM; readings start around 6:45

Courtship

Courtship

Feeling foolish, imbecilic,
Clutching flowers in his hand,
He somehow marshals, like a brave boy,
All the courage at his command.
Knocks quite softly, taps the doorbell,
Dreads the moment she appears
If he leaves now, before she answers,
He won’t confront his deepest fears.

The door is open, she regards him
With a pleasant, puzzled air.
He thrusts the flowers out before him
As if to show why he is there.
Then from within him, he is saying
The words he tried so long to hide,
Words he’d practiced, nine times over,
Until they could not stay inside:
“I love you madly, I will love you
Until all life is at an end.”

With a smile, she passes sentence:
“I shall want you for a friend.”

I’m back on this blog

Look for much more on this blog in the coming weeks – politics and essays will be added in the near future.  Meanwhile, here is a rewritten version of a poem that I posted some time ago.

 

Afterglow

They say the spirit lingers after death,
Or so I hope; there’s so much more to say.
They say that with your final, fleeting breath
You see your life, but distant, like a play.
If so, I’ll see you once and once again
I’ll see your eyes when first we kissed.
I’ll see your face at just the moment when…
But I must not think of all that we have missed.
I must stop now, such visions drive me wild.
At least you live in happiness apart,
And as for me, I am now reconciled,
I live alone, alone without my heart.
And when you die, I’ll find you. You will know
I’m there. I’ll linger in your afterglow.

Interpreting Borges

For this translation of Borges, I decided to start with the fact that the original poem (Un Ciego) is a classical Shakespearian sonnet.  The decision to respect the form of the original poem when translating leads to a new poem that, while preserving the essential themes and sense of the original, adds and subtracts details for the sake of the form.  I call this kind of translating  “interpreting” to emphasize that a poem arises from the process that is both the original poem and a new poem in and of itself.

 

The Blind Man
by
Jorge Luis Borges
(interpreted by Guy Conner)

I try imagining my face
Reflected in that mirror there.
Would I see an old man with a trace
Of weary rage, or perhaps despair?
Slowly does my hand explore
My features – not so old in fact.
The vision comes to me once more
Of you as I knew you in our youth.
I agree with Milton when he says
That blindness is a state of mind.
Vision deals with surfaces,
I see images of a deeper kind.
But still, if I could see my face,
I’d know myself and knowing, know my place.

A little taste of Borges

For a change of pace, how about a little Borges?

The Nightmare
Jorge Luis Borges
(trans. Guy Conner)

I dream of an ancient king,
His crown of iron, his look of death,
There are no faces like that nowadays,
You sense his firm blade will obey him, loyal, like a dog

I do not from where he comes – Northumbria or Norway;
I only know that he comes to us from the North,
Close cut red whiskers everywhere;
Never have I seen the like;
Such empty eyes.

From what strange looking-glass,
From what wild sea-faring adventure,
Has this man, this gray and grizzled man,
Burst forth to oppress me with his bitterness?

I know that was a dream, and I treat it as a dream.
Day becomes Night;
I don’t know where it has been.