I put Leonard Cohen's "The Future" in the tape machine and
the soft, melancholic song without words came on and I heard the rush of words
that became this poem flooding my mind. I was at the computer as this was
happening and so I just "transcribed" the thoughts as they flowed.
Most of it came out unaltered in one long blast. The cynicism and dark edges
are from me and do not purport to describe ultimate truth. I like it though.
What They Don't Have
What they don't have,
On some distant world
Where peace has infected a thousand generations
Our separated murmurs, personal testaments
Spoken from countless hearts.
So many voices swarming together like a hive of drones
Each vibration unaware what splinters them from the whole.
The pages turn and the words rise up
Yet the tragedy has no more audience than we heed.
How quick we return to the drama at hand
Broadcasting our play to the nearest star
Tidal waves of urgent messages,
Sent out to the black cosmos
Hoping for some god to pick up the call.
Our best optics only embrace and
Reinforce how far away we seem
While they realized long ago that
They were always there all along
Our dreams tell us that we are separated from the hub
Spinning against the grain of the central eye,
Not knowing that the maps for the journey
Were plotted in heroic epics of DNA.
They do not have these thoughts of missing.
The missing we have, in the quiet night
When the hand we reached for was almost there.
They do not have these moments
When we are struck down by the finding.
They do not have the swelling of the lover,
The blood of the killer, the cry of the child,
Only the same blissful recourse of an inner space
Not lacking anything from the giant catalog of desire
I can't see them surrounded by blizzards of worry
With their central sun bathed in certain beauty,
Where all these chapters of doubt have sunk
Into dusty memory, long abandoned to the higher
Authority of connection, method and harmony.
They do not journey to the shores of want
To find the effort lacking the goal.
But on full wings of light do they sup
As we debate the latest strategies of charity
I know that they do not have the harness
We have fashioned to the furnace of effort
They do not have our scavengers
Hunting for resources above and below
Or the multitude of passengers swimming in the
Fluid waves of karma
They stopped wondering about the visitors
To their skies that make for chapter and verse.
They do not transmute the length of a life, leaving
A subtle ring of fires burning upon the paths.
We still register and calibrate
The end of one era and transition to another
Like a mother watching her baby breathe.
We still count the hours as if somehow
We can grab the hands and redirect the flow
We thank the morning as if it was universal
And wait for the end in fire or ice
We still talk to the other as if He was far off
And quickly annotate new books when he answers us
They say it's our path to go
And up we must surely follow
But I know that we have what they don't
So much space we must move through tomorrow
© 1999 Fred Houpt, all rights reserved
appears here by permission
I put Leonard Cohen's "The Future" in the tape machine and the soft, melancholic song without words came on and I heard the rush of words that became this poem flooding my mind. I was at the computer as this was happening and so I just "transcribed" the thoughts as they flowed. Most of it came out unaltered in one long blast. The cynicism and dark edges are from me and do not purport to describe ultimate truth. I like it though.