Thursday, March 17, 2016

Jack Scott writes

I, Mobius  

Ms. does not know  
she holds time on a leash. 
A walk in woods 
lasts as long as woods. 
Mushrooms do not melt away. 
One wades into amber willingly. 

I still walk beside you, as if you. 
You still walk beside me as if me,  
your arm around me, 
my weight upon your shoulder. 
We bear it . . .  

We cannot get there from here. 
(It is exactly two hours  
from my bed . . . . . . to your bed.) 
We cannot get here from there.  
(It is exactly two decades 
from your bed . . . . . . to mine.)  
I did not leave. You did not come.  
I begin the walk knowing its end.  

Soybeans soya  
We tread the hardest, driest ridges,  
neither hard nor dry,  
soft enough for sowing soybeans 
with our toes, 
more than damp, 
well wet. 

Frost not yet having bitten 
is poised to strike. 
Yet, now, for us: calm, 
comfortable though soggy,  
this day.  

We veer right, 
Siamese compass points, 
pulled together  
more than by North, 
each forsaking direction  
for our notion of it.  

We have no destination,  
tugged perhaps by dark 
(hard to see in such soft light.), 
bent toward supper at the end, 
unhungered, starting out. 

We haven’t had forever, yet. 

The woods are not easy to enter. 
A moat intervenes, not perilous,  
but at the zoo it might keep things with teeth 
from biting you  

The way to cross is always 
ahead or through. 
The water lies perhaps  
eight inches deep.  
(on the average) 
Our boots are seven inches high. 
(on the average)  
Our still dry toes, 
overconfident, impatient, reckless, 
say what the hell, 
there are no alligators! It’s time to cross!  
At any place! Here ! Now! 
M.C.P. (me) I carry thee . . .  
(Water depth: ten inches 
on the absolute.) 
. . . into briars 
whose lace evokes a delicacy 
which isn’t there at all . . . . 
they bite!  

Without a map we find no door 
and, searching, find no key.  
Bulldoze we backwards 
through brambles into woods, 
bowing, bobbing, oddly graceful,  
(Twenty feet of barbed wire 
is now a single final briar.) 
suddenly we are free to rise -
levitation in a simple gesture 
fine enough to lift 
a tiny cup of China tea. 
We set each other free 
and straighten as we bent, 

We turn and enter Seikei 
winter wood.  

The maze has shredded 
our proportion; 
we have shed our size 
in these surroundings. 
We’ve dwarfed,  
now soybeans, ourselves, 
to, perhaps, a larger eye.

There’s no phone pole in sight 
to give these oaks a proper height, 
no squirrel ninety times the length of nut; 
the moat was deep as eye. 
On this farther shore 
we’re at the mercy 
of a higher sky. 
There is no airplane or other bird 
to give this sky a human scale;   

The pine that needled  
through the Fall 
and all the rest whose leaves 
have fallen short of South 
for winter  
have buried 
the measurement of masters: 
beer cans and other castaways,  
twelve inches to the foot. 
We’ve feet, but what’s an inch,  
some other kind of toe?  

Despite your father’s deed  
to this and all we can survey, 
dare we assert dominion 
on any terms?  

We do, as heir apparent, 
not own this place; 
we are guests of owning not.  

Succumb, says reason; 
Enjoy, says all the rest. 
Within these floral boundaries 
we are the only fauna here 
relying on each other only 
for the sense of what we are. 
Outside of time, 
as well as not to scale 
and out of sight, 
we know 
we could not have planned it 
and set about the job at hand.  

One does not find mushrooms 
until one finds mushroom. 
We search in haste to plunder. 
(first frost will waste the wonder 
like crystal guillotine.)  

Then . . . 
there’s one! 
its head still upon its neck. 
We catch it . . . Ours! 
wrest it from its ferny nest.  

Now, bent to mushroom height 
we see them plentifully 
through prisms of their lower air: 
abundant . . . a bonanza.  

One picks more quickly 
than one can later: clean, 
and sort, 
and cook, 
and eat, 
and more . . .

Two pick far more greedily 
than one and one. 
Later, maybe we’ll determine 
which is Icarus, 
and what is ick.  

Headstone furnished oaken parlor 
by spidery overhang, 
by squinting sun: 
almost none, 
by sea stunt rime 
an efflorescence 
enough light to lance the shade 
revealing shades within the shade: 
circle within circle, 
headstone ring, 
marble bible bookmarks 
inscribed once, 
etched again: Anonymous. 
drawing me as from a sore, 
or dream.

Still erect,  
I parallel the living 
as you lie level with all your rest. 
I could not read your ghost 
of chisel print.

I didn’t try,  
I didn’t pry 
- not through lack of interest - 
I respect the intimacy of death. 
Do what you will down there 
beneath your oaken canopy; 
I did not peek. 
Later, I asked, “Who? 
Your names were not familiar." 

I am at the end of pier 
awaiting fish 
or recall. 
I float on wood on water.  

I assist geese 
lifting from earth 
with my belief in flight. 
Supported by mists, 
buoyed by grays, 
drawn between this time 
and this place 
I disavow distance 
in any court of physical law. 
I am in contempt of gravity. 
I draw slender vowels from chimneys 
by the faintest consonance of air and lips. 
I weep, 
but do not frighten duck away.

This is stuck like music sticks, 
but this will never end. 

Mobius at the beginning, 
I am, at the end, Mobius. 
At the end 
you are leaving within me. 
In the beginning, 
I am entering within you.

We skirt the soybean field, 
traverse the moat, 
brazen the briars, 
molest mushrooms, 
séance a cemetery, 
plumb an endless pier . . . 
(That last was me, alone.)

The rest: my arm around you, 
through you, 
you equally surrounding me.  

A root, 
a seed 
into fertile mush 
a putty amorphous.

The distant chimney 
finesses a final sentence 
with an exclamation point 
(perhaps the chimney is near.)  

There is never again. 
There is only now, in handcuffs.

Here dog. 
Doggie doggie dog. 
Abner, you’ve lost weight. 
The scale beam is longer, 
More subject to error. 
I would not make you lose weight. 
I would not have you lose weight. 
You are the same, 
You still molest my knee, 
An expendable.

Instead of coming back 
and turning right 
(The house is always on our right; 
we are clockwise people.) 
I turn left 
for a long moment alone  
on the pier. 
You turn right 
into the house, 
into bronze. 
I remain lead 
upon the wood 
upon the water. 
I rummage through all my pockets 
and from them throw 
something . . . 
Midripple . . . 
plunk . . . 
lingers, until the end of  
dip. . . . . 
I see the marsh, 
the woods 
are stippled with our footprints 
all with us still in them. 

Office echoes quiet typewriter. 
Each day I eat half a lunch for two, 
far too much for one. 
You went all the way home for lunch, 
and dinner,  
and breakfast, 
leaving your pencil,  
and all of your correspondence, 
notes . . . notes. . .

. . . in the stillness of geese, 
who, risen above the earth, 
do not climb higher, 
and cannot fall, 
wallpaper the mind. 
I had many thoughts 
while you were in the house. 
I’ll tell you while we walk. 
I like your jacket . . . 
goose down.

Now we trespass marshes, 
evicting silence 
as water is evicted  
by diving into it, 
closing behind us like a wake. 
When we speak to each other 
the marsh absorbs it 
with all its other gasses, 
holds it like a breath.

Sanctuary doesn’t leak one drop 
of gossip. 
We’d better  
find some mushrooms though 
to validate our time away, 
(Virtue is only a mother away, 
and she quite near.) But, 
so long as we do not gather 
we do not have to go back ever, 
supper would forever stew.

We would own time, 
every way of it, but one.

But mushrooms do find us. 
Drawn by harness of collecting fingers 
we found what we sought, 
which ended the search.

What you don’t know  
is that when you turn right  
to leave our world, 
I turn left to stay within.

I enter the cemetery  
without knocking, 
respectful of your relationship 
with each other 
and with my friend - your relative. 
I do not peek or stare. 
I envy. 
A quiet gathering of peers,  
a loud intruder, however mute, 
who wants to understand 
before he joins you. 
Again we parted nameless, 
you, because I couldn’t read yours, 
me, because you couldn’t ask. 
Again I asked our friend; 
again she told me; 
again I forgot. 
Someday, I’ll learn to listen.

With no more feet than two, 
I occupy every other footprint 

Should we count the soybeans? 
Or weigh them simply  
in our minds? 
they weigh nothing, untouched.

The joy, the pain 
of growth 
heal over like the field, 
forgotten like the crop, 
except for soybeans, 

crop droppings,  
tithed to furrows, 
a currency of time, 
until the time is come again 
for another go at it, 
another golden glint of green 
in God’s eye, 
another crop and its survivors.

Mushrooms - 
berries of decomposition: 
take them, take them all . . . 
You do not endanger mushrooms, 
you cannot arrest decay 
by plundering them  
from their hosts.

If sin was intended,  
none was committed. 
Ms does not know she holds time on a leash.

into the house, 
the parlor 
can be clearly seen 
through an open window 
from the end of the pier.

Ms is holding the phone,  
a shorter leash, 
(at which end is she attached?) 
and as she listens, 
and responds, 
a blackboard is erased, 
with smiles I’ve never seen, 
never heard.  

My end of pier is sinking.

Whoever I was, I am 
within the loop 
until you break the loop, 
let time fall limp, 
go flat 
with us still in it.  

come out 

Here’s real mud 
and all the rest of it 
miles of scents, 

There can be lead and bronze 
in memory, 
as well as things 
that have never been. 
All of memory’s elements 
can sink to bottoms  
of forgotten waters, 
or float on nothing 
more substantial than air.

Time never breaks, 
only clocks, 
and leashes, 
and Mobius loops.

You said you would remember me 
I can’t remember 
a single set of footprints, 
only pairs. 
So how, for you, 
can I, as half a handshake, 
ever be complete?

Of all the weights of mist, 
of gray, 
of bronze, 
of mushrooms, 
of geese, 
three hundred pounds of us 
persist on separate scales, 
however nourished apart.

Three hundred pounds of memory 
will tend to lose some weight, 
however well I see in gray . . .

Here, You, 
I, Mobius  

Ms does not know she holds time on a leash



  1. August Ferdinand Möbius was a German mathematician and theoretical astronomer who claimed descent through his mother from Martin Luther. He was the first to introduce into projective geometry the idea of homogeneous coordinates (a system of coordinates used in projective geometry, as Cartesian coordinates are used in Euclidean geometry). Many mathematical concepts are named after him, including the Möbius plane, the Möbius transformations (important in projective geometry), and the Möbius transform of number theory,and his interest in number theory led to the important Möbius function and the Möbius inversion formula. In Euclidean geometry, he systematically developed the use of signed angles and line segments as a way of simplifying and unifying results. But he is best known for his discovery of the Möbius strip, a non-orientable two-dimensional surface with only one side when embedded in three-dimensional Euclidean space. A popular example of a Möbius strip is created by taking a strip of paper and giving it a half-twist, then joining the ends of the strip together to form a loop. However, the Möbius strip is not a surface of only one exact size and shape, but, rather, any surface that is homeomorphic to this strip. (Its boundary is a simple closed curve, i.e., it is homeomorphic to a circle). A half-twist clockwise gives a different embedding than a half-twist counterclockwise (that is, as an embedded object in Euclidean space the Möbius strip is a chiral object with right- or left-handedness). An infinite number of topologically different embeddings of the same topological space can exist in three-dimensional space, since a Möbius strip can also be formed by twisting it an odd number of times greater than one, or by knotting and twisting the strip before joining its ends.
    Jack's term "Siamese compass points" seems to be an amalgam of the idea of separate and distinct, but related, directions with the idea of "Siamese twins," conjoined twins (identical twins joined in utero when the fertilized egg splits partially), a rare phenomenon with a somewhat higher incidence in Southeast Asia, Africa, and Brazil. They share a single common chorion, placenta, and amniotic sac. The term is pejorative, but the original "Siamese Twins" were In-Chan (Eng and Chang Bunker), who were part of P.T. Barnum's circus for many years. They were born in Siam (modern Thailand), joined at the sternum by a band of cartilage, and though their livers were fused at the torso, they were independently complete. (Their father was a Chinese Thai fisherman, and their mother was half-Chinese and half-Malay, so they were known locally as the "Chinese Twins.") When they were 18 they were "discovered" by a Scottish merchant in Bangkok, who paid their parents to let him exhibit them on a world tour; when their contract him him, they went into business for themselves. Using their adopted "Bunker" name, they bought a farm in North Carolina, bought slaves to work it, and on April 13, 1843, married local women (Adelaide Yates and her sister Sarah Anne Yates); Chang and Adelaide had 11 children, while Eng and Sarah had 10. At first the couples shared a bed built for four in their Traphill home, but eventually separate households were set up west due to sisterly dislike, and the brothers alternately spent three days at each home. In 1870, Chang suffered a stroke; as his health declined over the next four years, he began drinking heavily (Chang's drinking did not affect Eng as they did not share a circulatory system). Then Chang fell from a carriage and injured himself, and developed a severe case of bronchitis. On January 17, 1874, Chang died in his sleep. Eng awoke and cried, "Then I am going," and died three hours later.

  2. MCP refers to various things, but perhaps the most likely are: "Manual call point," a common device for manual fire alarm activation; "Mode control panel," in some aircraft cockpits an instrument panel that contains the autopilot controls; or the "Monotonic concession protocol" used for automated agent-to-agent negotiations.
    "Tori-Seikei" is a Japanese term derived from a Chinese aphorism: "Peach and prunes do not talk at all; however, because of their beautiful flowers and sweet fruits, people gather together, making a passage surely and naturally appear underneath those trees."
    Daedalus (Daidalos, perhaps related to "to work artfully") built a wooden cow so Pasiphaë, the daughter of the sun king Helios who was married to king Minos of Crete, could symbolically mate with the bull of the sun. The sea-god Poseidon gave king Minos of Crete a white bull to sacrifice, but Minos kept it for himself. In revenge for this sacrilege, Aphrodite (the goddess of love) caused the queen to mate with the bull, resulting in the birth of the half-man/half-bull, Asterion ("starry"), the Minotaur. To house his monstrous stepson, Minos then commissioned Daedalus and his son Icarus (Ikaros)to construct the Labyrinth, an edifice with numerous winding passages and turns that opened into one another, seeming to have neither beginning nor end; it was so cunningly constructed that even Daedalus was barely able to get out. To secure this "state secret," Minos shut up its inventors in a tower and kept strict surveillance over outgoing ships. To escape, Daedalus created wings for himself and Icarus. But Icarus flew too high, and the sun softened the wax that held the feathers together, causing the contraption to fall apart. Icarus fell into the sea and drowned, but his father managed to escape to Kamikos in southern Sicily. To find the inventor, Minos traveled throughout the area offering to reward amyone who could run a string through a spiral seashell. King Cocalus of Kamikos summoned Daedalus to solve the problem; Daedalus placed a drop of honey at one end of the shell and a stringed ant at the other, thus stringing the shell. Minos thereupon demanded that Cocalus surrender Daedalus, but Daedalus (or the daughters of Cocalus) killed the Cretan king in his bath by pouring boiling water on him. Daedalus was credited with inventing carpentry and its chief tools (saw, axe, plumb-line, drill, glue, isinglass), the mast and sail, and lifelike statues that could move on their own. But in a fit of jealousy he caused his nephew Perdix to fall to his death; inspired by the spine of a fish, Perdix had notched the edge of a piece of iron, thus inventing the saw, and had riveted two pieces of iron together and sharpened the other ends, thus inventing the compass. Athena turned Perdix into a partridge and marked Daedalus' right shoulder with a partridge-shaped scar, but on another occasion Athena gave Daedalus a new pair of wings and told him to fly like a god. Iapyx, another son of Daedalus, rejected Apollo's offers of various gifts, including prophecy, in favor of the art of healing in order to save his father's life; he was Aeneas' doctor during the Trojan War and the founder of Apulia (the Iapyges were possibly the first historical settlers of Italy.

  3. The dog, Abher ("[my] father [is a] lamp"), was named after the nephew of Saul, the first king of the Jews, who was from Benjamin, the smallest of the Jewish tribes. As Saul's commander, Abner introduced the king to David after David's victorious duel with the Philistine giant Goliath. After David rebelled and defeated Saul's forces, Abner set up Ish-bosheth ("ish" = "[great] man," "boshet" = "[given to] bashfulness [or humility]" or "[sensitive to] shame" or "shameful (or shamed) person", although he was also called Ashba'al "[person of] master[y]"; "esh" may also be connected to the Hebrew word for "fire," in connection with Ba'al, the rival deity of the Canaanite population), the king's sole surviving son, at Mananaim, east of the Jordan river, while David ruled the tribe of Judah, leading to a two-year war. However, Ish-bosheth suspected Abner had dynastic ambitions of his own and accused him of establishing sexual relations with one of Saul's concubines, causing Abner to defect to David. Ish-bosheth sued for peace and restored his sister Michal to David, her first husband, and David gave Abner authority over Benjamin, arousing the hostility of David's commander, his nephew Joab ("Yahweh [is] father"), who then slew Abner, ostensibly in revenge for his brother's death at Anber's hands. Not long afterward, Ish-bosheth was assassinated by two of his commanders, who took his head to David for a reward; David had them hanged and their hands and feet amputated, and he had Ish-bosheth buried in Abner's grave. David's successor Solomon, acting on his father's dying advice, had Joab killed as punishment for his numerous plots and betrayals.


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