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Crumbs of Joy

by Lonny Harrison • photography - Zbigniew Sasal

Fortune, such a miser she,
A beggar’s share is all she grants
Of happiness, and not for free.
Our crumbs of joy we purchase
All too dearly at our heart’s expense,
Without respite or recompense

Portrait
He had an easy bearing and pleasant mien,
a tragic aspect.
With studied nonchalance and pretensions to erudition,
he was truly heir to the Messiah,
apprentice to Apollo.
Free of the fetters of social convention,
to banalities and commonplace
grudgingly resigned,
he was not audacious,
not obsessed with wealth,
and sometimes he sincerely felt a counterculture in himself.
Endowed with reason,
but enamored with rhyme,
and moved by other humours
mathematics can’t define,
he was teased by the clever artistry of fate,
tossed on the stormy seas of ambition,
torn by the thorny perils of love,
but
miraculously
whisked from the jaws
of metaphysical contemplation.
And thus his life transpired.
As day followed day,
he scoffed at those who took the narrow way,
pursuing instead his own amusements,
preferring a line or phrase of inspiration
to a world wide web of information.
But however lofty his creations and exaltations,
not by any incantation
could he escape the caprice of time.
Ravaged by age,
he looked the very picture of Dorian Gray.
And so, into miserable senility slipped
until the spark or spirit
(some call it a soul)
which once had kindled all passions and engendered every whim,
by some divine mystery was extinguished,
and life took leave of him.
Mistaken Revelation
The wind whispered through
some nearby trees,
And I felt the calm of a midsummer’s eve.
All was still
as I sat in contemplation,
When soon, Forsooth! I came upon
a sudden revelation.
I stood, amazed
by the genius of my epiphany,
Stunned
by its sheer profundity.
Surely, I had not fallen upon the answer
to the overwhelming question?
But yes, it seemed
I had solved the riddle,
Settled it all,
Rolled it up into a ball,
Dethroned the sphinx,
Outdone the oracle,
Brought the gods of the Pantheon crashing down from hallowed
Olympus.
Soothsayers, saints, and sages couldn’t fool me,
Poets, philosophers, and kings couldn’t rule me.
But Alas!
As I sat
and mused upon my triumph,
One fleeting detail I had overlooked
Loomed forebodingly,
Mocking me,
Hurling me
from my spurious height,
Smashing
my shallow pretensions,
Dashing my vain ambitions,
And unequivocally
proved me wrong.

The Monk
I must have the patience
to wait
for love
as the young novice
vows
his silent burden
to endure a life
stretching
yet so long before him
until at last
his fervent soul
is reunited
with the source
of all love
and his gentle spirit
joins
the blessed waters
gushing
from the wellsprings.



The Traveller
A king who never sees his throne,
I wander far away from home.
A man of leisure,
Weary of domestic pleasure
And inclined to roam.
Civilizations old and new
Come into the traveller’s view,
They rise and fall,
The cities and the empires, all,
As I am passing through.
Narcissus by the Lake
A placid lake reflects the dreamy-eyed,
Serene and pleasant image of his youthful face.
And all else in this place is still and still
The same as when the silent boy sat down
Beside the lake and fell into a trance.
Vibrations from an echo gently stir
The waters and the face reflected there.
The other dreamy face is undisturbed,
He sits as though he hadn’t heard.
Echo calls again, she calls again.
Her call sounds hollow, hopeless, indistinct:
What makes, she asks, my lover so indifferent?
He stares, unstirred, he doesn’t blink an eye.
Narcissus quietly sits by the lake.
Who stares at him from the water?
I want to create the world anew.
All I have to do
is listen
to the rustling leaves and watch
the rushing clouds come in and out of view
and my symphony
will compose itself
like gold
fermenting
in the alchemist’s still.
The Wellspring
Whence do I summon
my life,
my will,
my power,
my breath?
what deepest recess?
what wells do I mine,
what is the source
of this energy fountain
and is it mine?
can I claim it is my own,
or is it given me
or simply there
for my taking?
how much do I use,
and ought I more or less,
and is it limited in quantity
or beyond what I can guess?
how ought I use it best
and not to waste?
Is it
my soul,
my God,

God-in-me?
A perfect God,
imperfect god
(is it blasphemous to say?)
the gentle hand of the creator

or
stern ruler of heaven
dealing
retribution
on the earth?
Or is it
the essence
of goodness and harmony
a spirit
of unlimited power,
a bottomless wellspring
of life
for my bounty
of which I drink,
and deeply drink

for sustenance
and strength,
knowledge
joy and love
and for the light
to illumine
all of it
within.


You Can Only Eat So Many Apples
You can only eat so many apples,
but at 4AM it’s beyond me.
It’s not my weak, despondent will
that longs
for
a hand to touch

a fresh young face

the blonde virgin down
on her tummy
thirsting! starving!
for

a
kiss
on the forehead.
It’s that which makes me
most alive
which is the sustenance of life
which is the creation of life

the greatest affirmation
of existence!
—yet…
forbidden.
And you can only eat so many apples.

 

Morphine Sky
The lizard-scale trees
yearn heavenward
and in their arms
the frolicking
creatures
on the beach
coo like turtledoves
pursuing their amorous arts
and know
that nothing binds them
in this
serene and beautiful bliss

as if to serve
a loving and generous master
were all they had to do
and to feel
the natural harmony
of all
of that
for which

life thirsts and strives
and but to drink
the shower
of radiant blessing
pouring down
from the morphine sky
on all
of God’s
mystical creation.

 

I shed my trappings and take up a pen
But why?
A thought once uttered is a lie.
To capture a moment of cognition, perhaps,
to state
what oft’ was thought but ne’er so well expressed,
to roll it up into a ball,
gather it into the artifice of eternity,
to freeze it in a solid core,
infinity up on trial,
pure
refined
planed, honed, polished, lacquered, perfect
reining time
to bring it to a final halt.
one ought to be still
and listen
to the music of the spheres.
the day should be slow unravelling.
for
the soul is a candle flame
seen
through a glass
of amber-coloured tea,
and
dipping and diving
in the blushing sky,
that exquisite bird,
so gracefully
describing an arc
below the billowing clouds
deserves a symphony
to follow

The universe breathes as I breathe,
and waves of light
align
in crystal latticeworks
across the sky
at night
in the cool, damp air,
where the blossoms smell
sweet and sticky like a virgin
the repeating
waxing and waning of the tide,
advancing and receding,
tossing like a warring soul,
attacking and retreating.
Because there is no beginning
and there is no end,
and all
is the centre of the universe
at all times
simultaneously.
A frozen sphere.
You can almost hear the ice congealing

 


Loose Ends
No, the ends do not connect,
In fact there are no strings to tie.
Life is a spouting geyser
and just when you think
one of those streams
is gonna send you
straight up
to
GLORIOUS ALL HAIL THE ALFUCKINGMIGHTY ON HIGH
heaven,
it spills over
and comes
cascading
down
back to the pool
and then
another stream
is shooting up
again
and does the same.

Beauty in Small Doses
Like drinking coffee
in a downtown café
when you haven’t had one for days,
and it settles in your head
just right.
There’s a song you’ve never heard
but it sounds like
some frontier romance—
adventure, love and tragedy
in a minor key.
The heroine is desperately beautiful,
the hero dies in vain,
and the teasing glint of sunlight
in that glass across the room
is just so pleasing.
And over there, that kid
with shining eyes,
naïve and narcissistic,
thinks he’s onto something
only he can feel,
smugly idealistic,
and certain of his fate.
Reminds you
of when you were younger
when things meant more
more often,
but still you try to squeeze out
all you can
when you can.

It’s not the same as before
but still you feel
that serene joy
descending like a cloud or a
question.


So
inhale it like smoke
and let it
swirl around your head
like love.
Later it will only fade and
leave you
flat, deflated
and seeping
in chemical residue.
But now…
oh now…
oh now…
Now THIS is what it’s really all about.
The universe emerges
from obscurity,
the veil is lifted,
the ephemeral disguises drop away
and all that IS
comes into sharp toxic precision focus…

Ah! but what’s that in the corner
of your eye!
that tree over there—
yes, that’s who’s been waving at you,
beckoning so cunningly,
trying to get your attention.
Ah yes!
The tree, of course!
(it hits you like a thunderclap)

take a look

but only with a sideways glance
until you know for sure it’s real,
and keep it there
in your peripheral vision
where you’ve stored
all the other things
within a wink—
for never
should you
look
straight
in the eye
of gifts
good fortune brings.
Now gaze up at the sky,
squinting from the glare.
yes there,
above the treetops
and apartment blocks
is where it all begins.
Right there,
the essence of it all,
a splendorous myriad of theme
and variations
on
being
and becoming,
the spirit and the incarnation
knowing
and expressing,

doing and progressing,
suffering and yearning,

feeling, loving, dying…

and just to think
that all is here to taste
to know
to have
to BE!
so lucid and seductive
…yes!
to feel and know
with such blessed
precision and certainty!

But it can always be so!
you can always feel this way
and always KNOW—

But of course it fades
as soon as you guess this
and leaves you merely breathless
having seen a meager glimpse
but you’ll forget this
like a summer day
as if you’re sworn to secrecy
and not supposed to say
anymore

about it.


Not a Paragraph
Today
I feel
fabulous,
in fact
I have heard tell
that life
is not a paragraph
and the sun
streaming gloriously
through this window
says no, it is not
and this cup of coffee
pleasantly denies it too
so I shuffle
back
through the pages
seeking confirmation,
some further indication
and see
in many
of the people and places
the cities and faces
of my watery memory
that the syntax here
is variegated
indeed
to say
the least:
a delightful shower
of particles,
apostrophes,
colons and parentheses,
participial phrases
dangling
in most indecorous fashion, I


arrange them
in haphazard rows
of questions marks
and exclamations
yes, I see
that it is so
and to
overwhelming relief
my consternation
has subsided
as I view the many-sided
renegade shape
of this free-radical
notation
of starts and jumps
and fits and stallings,
or flowing grace in lofty tones,
and so
I think I’ll go
eat an orange
and see where it takes me.


The Tree Sage

Waving
his ruffly mane
dancing
to jangling
wind chimes
bound
to no law
but God’s
no will
to corrupt
his noble and pure
instinct
to live
thrive
give life
and take only
his sustenance
from the minerals
of the soil
from the water
that falls
like a blessing
from the sky
leaves upturned
and branches reaching
gratefully
for his bounteous repast
of light
from
the graciously obliging
sun.

 

 

Crumbs of Joy 2

Fools, we fall prey
To fate’s capricious art,
Then one last kiss,
And then we part.

serene reflection
fresh perspective
fluid brain
an oily pen
seductive sense of being in the world

 

Insatiable Is Life
Insatiable is life
as those who came before you knew
for never are you satisfied
nor ever can you be
always
yearning to feel
and longing to know
your energies effete
from thirsting, trying
grasping, straining
to focus
on the shape, the form
the essence

to discover…
what?
an endless spiral
only
ever-deepening
elusive and enchanting
relentless and tormenting
unknowable, ineffable
preventing you from finding
the path of ecstasy
of bliss without sin
I know where it is
but cannot seem
to get there.

 

Abandoned Love
We who were in love
now gaze at one another
in silence
with nothing to say
except our eyes confessing:
I don’t know you anymore.

 

A decanter of vodka
sits
on the table
beside the man
who can’t articulate
the tangle of doubt
inside
his
consciousness.

 

The Passion of Youth
First passion of youth is passing.
Where blood once boiled in my veins
flows a thinner syrup
diluted now
with grief and disappointment.
No longer would I sell my soul
to catch a glimpse
of her curious brow
or the capricious smirk
playing
at the corners
of her mouth.
No more romantic visions
of exotic adventure
and wild abandon.
Let Homers write the epics
and Beethovens write the symphonies,
I’m through with chasing shadows.

 

A Seduction Set in Fall
A seduction set in fall
it’s something to do with the gloom
with the apples, pumpkin, pears and squash
the bent and broken branches on the crooked pear tree
it’s the apprehensive stirring in the heart
the faint foreboding
lurking in shadows
hiding in corners
veiled in a sinister shroud of damp heat
wet leaves
the smoky, aspen air
the pungent mossy odour.
Strange excitement of anticipation
a furtive look
deceitful eyes
a cunning smile
you half expect
to see her in a crumbling archway
in a garden all decayed
or behind the fence
overgrown
with demon grass and wolfsbane flower
where mist and dew
and crimson moon
evoke
a sweet and shameful feeling—
sickly sweet
in the pit of my belly.

She is shy
morose, mysterious
black hair
wet and glossy
dark red painted lips
black leather coat
to her waist,
slender fingers
adorned
with black insignias
on silver rings
gray, greenish cloud
in the phosphorescent sky
dark eyes gleaming,
pestilent wind,
dark eyes glinting
dark eyes
hinting
A seduction set in fall
leaves in little whirlwinds
biting at your heels.
Lost in a trance of stealing
furtive glances
at her brooding, sullen face
when—
Ah!
She looks up!
I’m caught!
All is lost!
with searing glare
her chilling eyes deliver
burning shame
adrenaline shock
and icy knives
of sweet an
d rapturous pain!

The Muse
I’ll be your muse,
she tells me,
write for me.
I hum and haw and wonder what she means.
will I find the words to. . .
No! she laughs
and gestures reassuringly—
not words—
and she tells me with her eyes
that words are empty shells.
She knows!
and mine, gazing back,
say yes, I know that too,
and can it be—I think—
that I am not alone in this desert prison,
dry, muted tongue,
and water all around but not a drop to drink?
I’m here, she says, but I’m not here.
I’m me, I say, but I’m not me.
I wink, she laughs,
we’re glad that we agree.
But if she’s not here, then where?
and who am I?
Is she looking through me with her vacant stare?
Just then, she lifts her eyes,
she casts a cloud upon the air
— oblivion —
we’re hidden from the world,
enchanted, in a net of golden hair.
And then I see!
—her eyebrow twitches—do you see?
I see! I’m smiling, beaming!
looking on the wide expanse,
a sea
receding to an infinite horizon.


I see it wasn’t vacant eyes I saw,
deceiving me, they’d seemed like empty pools
until they drew me in
to where
a cool gust of blue
reveals the whole
ocean universe of her soul.
Leading to the shore I find
an ancient jewelled staircase,
weathered rock and glimmering stones—
emeralds, rubies,
unnamed gems in deep, rich tones,
they shimmer
under sugary liquid silver rays of moonlight
on a still night
in July.
I silently descend and sit down on the bottom step.
Like a blessing from the sky,
I feel her presence all around,
embracing me,
caressing me in brilliant shades
of violet, green, and amber-red.
She whispers gently,
brushing fragrantly against my ear
and lapping at the shore.
She
Listen! . . .shhh. . .she whispers
. . .shhhhh. . .


She whispers ancient words
forgotten long ago
and never written.
The words that drew you down the staircase
even when you didn’t hear.
She speaks a language understood
by every living thing,
every incarnation of the spirit,
every essence, all its traces—
in a melody, an hour,
their reflection in the glass
the milk in the grass
the syrup in the tree
the honey in the flower
the blood in the flesh
the language of life, death, light, dark,
divinity and the never-ending spaces.
And she asks me—
what dull fire consumes you,
burning,
my poor creature,
so defiantly in your heart?
I leap to my feet, gesticulating wildly—
my blood is boiling!
A vein pulsating in my brain
eagerly awaits the final cataclysm,
the rushing hurricane,
the shattering blow and the silent implosion
when the universe will bleed into nothing.


My poor, wounded bird,
she says,
your home is in the sky
forbidden now but not forever.
Sit by awhile and let my nurse your wing.
For fortune sings to those who know her song,
to those who summon with their faith
the wind,
and hear it play the chimes.
The crystal notes ring clear against
the icy sky,
their echo dancing star to star,
And looking up, I wonder which to thank,
and listen to the astral chorus
sounding from afar.

Make me
a stone idol

absent from life
gazing on
with omniscient stare
hollow eyes
stern grimace
Make me
not accountable
for will
not responsible
for actions
not participating
in the human frenzy
to eat, fuck, kill
but with ancient visage
seeing all
knowing all
judging not
absolutely still
in silent contemplation
of the misery of man.

In the Sea
Lightly borne
on the saltwater sea
on surging waves
in murky water
weightless
effortless
rising and falling
flailing limbs
a boneless, gooey fish
my head above the surface only
to confirm
that I'm a dry-land mammal
(though today amphibious).
Sun stinging my eyes
salt numbing my tongue
I face the infinite horizon
bob and sway
and cock my head attentively
to listen
to the whisper of eternity.
I turn toward the shore.
She sits somehow distractedly
knees curled to her chest
staring
uninterested
preoccupied
concerned.
She
whom I found only four days ago
after long having sought
whom I lost long ago
when or where
knowing not
or who we were.

I a knight or sailor
maybe
far away
on campaign
went
as she stayed by the cradle
with a small incarnation
of her and me
and separation was painful
we knew we wouldn't meet again
for many years
perhaps for ages
and thus it was
for I was killed
and we were parted
for generations
of long empty longing.
My life is a collection
of disconnected
people, places and events
in an ever-flowing stream
of certain uncertainty
I try to make it fit
somehow
to draw it all together
as I'm sure it wants to come
and in a single stroke
transfigure me once
and for all.
And she who speaks to me
in everything I know and love
in all that is me
whom I have known forever
and always will know
sits somehow distractedly
her chin turned down to her breast
gazing
fixedly
at a spot
somewhere
in the distance
visibly perplexed
and whom I am concerned to see concerned.

Twisting around
with wriggling legs
broad stroke with my arms
I head for the shore
eyes trained
thoughts tuned
perceptively on her
who is preoccupied
but I am not worried
(concerned but not worried)
in fact I am smiling
with a radiance
I've long forgotten
but newly rediscovered
in her soft glowing
inner light.

What troubles her
I fear not
can disperse the bonds
we hold
but only
as we seek
to understand
and console
confirm
that we are here at last
upon this murky shore
of what is,
was,
and what is to be.
Thus, cocking head attentively
upon the salty waves I go
and listen
to the whisper
of what I swim toward the shore
to know.

The Picture Is Too Big
The picture is too big.
you can’t see it all at once
beyond the telecamera subjectivity
of your day-to-day activities,
your frame-by-frame perception
of the world inside and all around.
you
are only scarcely aware
of the totality
of being
you belong to,
the collective existence
of vegetable and intelligent life
you are part of,
a giant mass of energy
moving
with hair-trigger precision,
an enormous school of fish,
an intricate network
of nerve-ends, alveoli,
atoms and nucleic acid…
the picture is too big.
you are caught up in
the rushing momentum
and can’t see beyond.
you cannot grasp the whole
because there is only
the slide-projector present.
you must accumulate,
experience,
learn,
put the pieces
together,
for ignorance is sin
and it destroys.

inertia is your enemy,
starting and stopping,
suspended
precariously
in the physical moment,
hanging
precipitously
in the metaphysical balance.
rhythm is the key.
use change and creativity
to make order
out of chaos.
dissolve illusions,
shed seductions, passions, needs
and see
what truly is
and strive to see
always.
be vigilant
and act according to your conscience,
for will is a force
to use
only for doing
what you know is good.
now is the time
to waken to new awareness.
strive to know,
to feel
and understand.
cast your gaze
both close and wide,
prepare for tidal changes
and a quantum leap of
consciousness
they will
bear you aloft
upon the dawning age.

in its wake.