Two Poems


A proliferation of feelings
engaged them for a while
with the amazement that
other people felt things, too,
but feelings were untrustworthy
for an unsubstantial self;

behind them lay
the mechanisms of perception
and the psychic structures
by which the world was made—
promising subjects
for scientific study,

but to what point
if language itself was nothing
more than lies
manufactured by
oppressive ideologies?

from the hegemony of grammar,
words became multivalent
markers of ambiguous
possibilities—a shimmering
veil stretched over the abyss,
where on a shaky throne
sat meaning once.  

If nothing could be said,
they still could warble, which
over and over again they did.



While Peter was speaking, a cloud came and overshadowed them,
 and they became frightened when they entered the cloud. Lk 9.34

The cloud took everything away.

They couldn’t see each other,
and were afraid, but when it lifted

the voice was gone and the dazzling angels;
the transfigured Master was himself again.

What good was all this show if afterwards
everything was as it was before?

Like a magician’s trick—after being sawed in half
the lady emerges whole.

They all went down the mountain.

Maybe it had just been lightning—
or some kind of cloud inversion.

If God had shown Himself and spoken,
wouldn’t everything be different?

Nothing had changed, but everything
that had engaged them once seemed pointless now.

James Chapson                                   

from Burdock 9