Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Past Perfect

Chapped fingers snag the fabric
as fold upon fold the future frays
imperfection in a watch tick twitch
predicts the stiffened past where a man's collar
maps perfect shoreline spread in
dried pretense, the sweaty stains
gray crust of quick-buck schemes
rosy tinted ass kiss
ground in, the yellow
pique of petty peeves
all perfectly preserved in
the perfectly delicious tabloid past.

Bolt upon bolt unwinds the lighted
sweatshop night dance, the fingers
blur all our loss in the needling whir
of this moment's obsession,
quaint relic Redeemer
assigned his half remembered slur
does not appear, we much prefer
this moistened moment as our own
with all it's juicy past foretold.

8 comments:

Inconsequential said...

petty peeves :) excellent.

It's the alliteration that appeals, but the after image is great too.

Not sure I get the meaning of this piece, but the images in the first half are fantastic!

I shall be back for another read, when I awake.

Good stuff Ish, good stuff!

missmellifluous said...

I am struggling with the sense too.
What is the "half remembered slur"? Are you saying we are denying the One who has claim to our lives, or/and moments, by consuming and engaging in our own selfish and exploitive activities? We pretend that we can write our own history?

Am I way off?

ish said...

Thank you for the remarks, Inc!
missmelifluous...
Ah, the trick of being allusive without being opaque. Yes basically its as you said. Our present is full of imperfection from which we generate the past off the shelves of which we relish 'perfect' horrors, gossip, scuttlebutt, et al. Mostly we don't want interference with our seedy present. Who wants to spoil a 'good' story'! Having the present redeemed is not an option mostly we just want to relish our 'stains'. The 'slur', the historical reasons people reject the Redeemer, are unfounded but they are a good enough excuse not to bring our present under scrutiny.
Maybe you have both thought about this before but it really washed over me how elusive the 'present' is. How long is it? Or, what is the distance to the past and future? Does the present exist at all? To entertain the thought that you are occupying the present is already 'history'.

missmellifluous said...

Your comment reminded me of something CS Lewis wrote in The Great Divorce. IN this book he blends the past, present and future beautifully to say what I think you are getting at. Lewis suggests that "earth, I think, will not be found by anyone to be in the end a very distinct place. I think earth, if chosen instead of Heaven, will turn out to have been, all along, only a region in Hell: and earth, if put second to Heaven, to have been from the beginning part of Heaven itself." The following excerpt communicates this in a very powerful way:

'Son,' he said, 'ye cannot in your present state understand eternity: when Anodos looked through the door of the Timeless he brought no message back. But ye can get some likeness of it if ye say that both good and evil, when they are fully grown become retrospective. Not only in this valley but all their earthly past will have been Heaven to those who are saved. Not only the twilight in that town, but all their life on earth too, will then be seen by the damned to have been Hell. That is what mortals misunderstand. They say of some temporal suffering, "No future bliss can make up for it, " not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory. And of some sinful pleasure they say "Let me but have this and I'll take the consequences": little dreaming how damnation will spread back and back into their past and contaminate the pleasure of the sin. Both processes begin even before death. The good man's past begins to change so that his forgiven sins and remembered sorrows take on the quality of Heaven: the bad man's past already confirms his badness and is filled only with dreariness. And that is why, at the end of all things, when the sun rises and the twilight turns to blackness down there, the Blessed will say "We have never lived anywhere except in Heaven", and the Lost, "We were always in Hell." And both will speak truly.'

C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce, Geoffrey Bless: London, 1952, pp 61&62


I am sure that I will be of those who look back and say "I have always been in Heaven," for despite the "remembered sorrows" I am sure that the joy of knowing Jesus will outweigh everything else; it will, and does, infuse all with value, meaning, enjoyment and life.

ish said...

This understanding of heaven and hell I find incredibly helpful. Thank you missmellifluous for inserting these bits from "The Great Divorce". Yes and it takes things a few steps further than my verse. Delight in a 'wicked' past sours into 'hell'. Heaven and hell work backwards changing all that was before: Redemption, or the lack thereof. At this very moment we occupy one or the other.

missmellifluous said...

Exactly. I think there is a lot of merit to these ideas.

_Soulless_ said...

Here I've savored the play on tenses, i.e. in terms of what comes before what, what comes after what. The first stanza (I loved it, a complete circle in itself) reminds me how selective (and, in the extreme, capricious) human memory can be.

Hi, Ish! (I'm back. ^_^ I'm delighted ear to ear by your Animal Art blog, especially by the oil on canvas pieces. Keep em coming.)

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