Tag Archives: impermanence

“Mockingbird”

The sound of car alarms above my head,
Then card’nal calls around the lightning rod
Inspired my search for brilliant card’nal red.
I saw instead what’s beautiful and odd:
A forest full of sounds and frantic song
Escaping from a single mockingbird.
As though he meant to say, “This life’s not long
And, while it lasts, it’s often quite absurd,”
He played a crow, a robin, and a horn
And jumped between the roles at rates so fast
That moments after ev’ry sound was born
Its span of life among the clouds had passed.
He strove to share the songs he’d kept inside
Instead of hoarding them until he died.*

 

*I know that he was likely trying to attract a mate…

“Smoke”

A life that’s filled with sorrowful regret
For when Intention and What Happens clash
Becomes a bitter, shrinking cigarette
Reduced, in time, to little more than ash.
A harmful word a person quickly spoke
May burn the hearer’s skin or speaker’s eyes,
But what appears a fire is only smoke—
A tiny, rainless cloud that soon will rise
And bring about no cough or choking fit,
No emphysema, cancer, early death
To present people letting go of it
And taking in a new and fresher breath.
Who wouldn’t wear a fretting, frowning face
While grasping vanished smoke no hand could trace?

An Elizabethan Sonnet by Paul Burgess

“In the Underworld”

[Selections from The New House of Fame by Paul “Whitberg” Burgess

In epic poems, it’d be a fatal fault
To find no journey to the world below.
To shield myself from critical assault,
I’ll lead you, readers, where I dread to go:
The House’s dank and dreary burial vault
As black as feathers from the darkest crow.
[No matter how you earn your daily bread.
The worms and flies will feast upon your head.]

“That hair, those lashes curled by skillful hand
Will fall one day from your decaying skull.
That skin you have so diligently tanned
Will fade until it has become quite dull.
Your famous frame, your sunken ship unmanned,
In time,  will be a rotting, hollow hull.
For many decades your body will endure
without a perm or proper pedicure.”


“Who’d think that Death could take so many souls

across the river Greeks once knew as Styx?
The Reaper reaps the carriers of coals.
He buries builders skilled at laying bricks
and people smiling when the cam’ra rolls
[but,when it’s off, assaulting aides with kicks].
Of spirits dead there’s such a high amount
that I’d not try to take a thorough count.
————————————————————

“Andy Warhol–15 Minutes of Fame”

“Andy where’s my 15 minutes?”–David Bowie [Tin Machine’s song “I Can’t Read”]

From The New House of Fame by Paul “Whitberg” Burgess

II.16
To paraphrase the artist Andy Warhol,
All people visit for a quarter hour.
I know not much about the rise and fall
Of blossoms wilting once they briefly flower,
Or tourists standing in the House’s hall,
But only that to lose what’s sweet is sour.
Those placing faith in Fame’s atomic flash
Must run the risk of being turned to ash.

For more selections from The New House of Fame, please see the following post:

https://paulwhitberg.wordpress.com/2014/06/24/an-introductory-guide-to-becoming-rich-and-famous-2/

“Skeleton”

This is the first part of a reflection on inter-being and the nature of self as an impermanent, ever-changing aggregate of historical, natural, social, and psychological factors. Who knows if I will ever finish the piece?

This skeleton–revealed when little else remains

beneath the hollow crown of cracking skull

A hue of paper marred with coffee stains–

…this is no more you than a ship its hull.

 

 

 

From Ovid’s *Metamorphoses* [Lines on Impermanence and Inter-being];

From Ovid’s Metamorphoses [Lines on Impermanence and Inter-being]; all passages from the Horace Gregory translation (which, unfortunately, does not contain line numbers. The passages appear in the section called “The Philosopher,” who seems to be Pythagoras]

And so I ride (which is my metaphor)
A full-sailed ship upon an endless sea,
A universe where nothing stays the same.
Sea, sky, wind, earth, and time forever changing—
Time like a river in its ceaseless motion:
On, on, each speeding hour cannot stand still,
But as waves, thrust by waves, drive waves before them
So time runs first or follows forever new:
The flying moment gone, what once seemed never
Is now, which vanishes before we say it,
Each disappearing moment in a cycle,
Each loss replaced within the living hour

[Book XV, p. 419]

Nothing retains the shape of what it was,
And Nature, always making old things new,
Proves nothing dies within the universe,
But takes another being in new forms.
What is called birth is change from what we were,
And death the shape of being left behind.
Though all things melt or grow from here to there,
Yet the same balance of the world remains.

Nothing, no nothing keeps its outward show,
For golden ages turn to years of iron;
And Fortune changes many looks of places.
I’ve seen land turn to miles of flood-tossed waters,
Or land rise up within a restless sea;
Shells have been found upon a sanded plain
With never an ocean or a ship in sight,
Someone has seen an anchor turn to rust,
Caught among brushes on a mountaintop.
Stormed by great cataracts, a wide plateau
Turns to a valley and Spring floods have swept
Far hills into chambers of the sea.
And where a swamp once flowed beneath the willows,
Is now a strip of sand, and where a desert was,
A little lake sways under growing reeds.
[p. 421-22]

*Hamlet*–impermanence and inter-being

Hamlet [5.1.198-205]

Hamlet:

Alexander died, Alexander was buried, Alexander
returneth to dust; the dust is earth; of earth we make
loam; and why of that loam whereto he was converted
might they not stop a beer barrel?
Imperious Caesar, dead and turned to clay,
Might stop a hole to keep the wind away.
O, that that earth which kept the world in awe
Should patch a wall t’ expel the winter’s flaw!

4.3.26-30 [King=K, Hamlet=H]
H: A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a
king, and eat of the fish that hath fed of that worm.

K: What dost thou mean by this?

H:
Nothing but to show you how a king may go a
progress through the guts of a beggar.