Four Sonnets

William Irwin Thompson

Surfing the Web

Artillery shells on the Buddha’s Bamyan cliff,
Talibanic acid flung in the veiled schoolgirl’s face,
Qaeda beheadings taped for a medieval riff
Streamed with the web’s “Allahu Akbar’s” podcast trace.
Words alone among the silences they lattice
in sleepless nights in the world wide web’s tendrils
conjure Fatehpur Sikri’s red sandstone palace
where Islam arched religions with Sufi spandrils.
Akbar’s grieving shade waits in the Diwan, alone.
In Waziristan, CIA drones fly above
in the full moonlight on the huts of sand and stone,
circling coils of the serpent on wings of the dove.
Towers fall; ruins stand. Our oil-derricked lyres
Untune the sky as Gaza burns in brimstone fires.

Choir Boys

Not the organ answering Job out of the whirlwind,
nor the tiny pointed notes of the harpsichord--
metallic and discrete as knights in armories
unfurled and elevated above the clubbed blood
of churlish battle or bones struck on mammoth skulls,
nor the sun’s arteries drained in stained glass truncheons;
bound in cassocks to their claustral occulted place
where priestly functions anoint the choir boys’ throats
in Borborite eucharist older than the Mass,
cherub buttocks lean on the misericord’s hard love
tangled in wings of the dove and coils of the snake
that soon break sunset’s shaft on the rising full moon;
but now the pianoforte in thundering halls
breaks the hold in revolution’s noisy applause.

A Dandelion

If a self is formed to favor itself
more effectively than a gest in light
of tender obliging considerate leaves
who’d thrust no place on continental shelf,
nor claim on distant islands their birth right
with seeds clinging to shores in tidal heaves;
if nature born in bacterial spawn
in thermal vents, desert sand, and arctic ice
shows no regard for self-less courtesy--
to play croquet on smoothly leveled lawn,
or gamble without chance with weighted dice,
or cover fists with gloved diplomacy,
this dandelion breaking through concrete
is life's answer to Buddha's middle street.

The Ant

Maybe when we look at an ant we’re not
seeing an individual being--
a communist contentedly living
for needs, not hoping for more than he’s got.
Maybe it’s merely one single neuron
in the nest’s highly distributed brain.
Did the learned scientists on Krypton
choose Earth because ants had learned to entrain
the Many in One long before Plato?
The Buddha tried to teach proud, grasping men,
taking Sankhya and turning it to Zen,
that Self was not worth the bother to know.
If by boiling water it turns to air,
maybe hot selves are neurons unaware.

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8 June 2009

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