Sunday, July 5, 2009
Friends Meeting, Part 4: Time Unwinds
by Dan Gurney
Note: Sonnets are poems composed of 14 lines. In creating these six connected sonnets, I’ve observed a self-imposed rule of keeping each line to 10 syllables. Getting the lines to rhyme would be nice, but such an accomplishment is beyond my current powers.
Some years ago, I shared with a teacher my skepticism about the existence of heaven. He pointed out that modern skepticism about heaven is, from an historical perspective, exceptional: throughout the ages, most humans have believed in some sort of heavenly realm.
My teacher got me to doubt my skepticism! Now I am agnostic in regard to whether heaven exists or not. How would I know one way or the other?
This set of poems arose out of two states of mind: (1) out of a willingness to play with the idea that a heaven might exist, and (2) out of my deepening sadness in response to the on-going and relentless extinctions resulting from human activity.
Sonnet 1: Prologue
In two thousand twelve, the Dalai Lama
Will journey to a Buddhist Heavenly realm
And save all life on this, our precious Earth.
His early interests in tinkering with
Motorcars and his later interests in
Astrophysics had a purpose no one
Had guessed at the time. He took it all in.
Deeply meditating, he will tinker
With the time/space continuum so time
Runs backwards—or seems to—and we humans
Can undo our ignorance-born karma.
And then the future will undo the past
And we shall move back towards our cherished past
Reclaiming what’s best and leaving the rest.
Sonnet 2: Back to 9/11
First, the Patriot Act will be declared
Will be abolished and no one will want
To remember anyone going by
The name, W. Democracy will
Begin its return to the USA.
We will learn that the sky wants no scraping,
Beyond what the mountains have always done.
Unionized workers will respectfully
Dismantle every large downtown building
And return iron, copper, marble, tin
Back in the earth where they’ve always belonged.
Members of the Bush White House will enjoy
Retirement years in Guantanamo.
Sonnet 3: Back to 1963
Jetliners no longer trace linear
Contrails across the upper stratosphere.
John F. Kennedy will fulfill his plan
To pull all American troops out of
Vietnam. Two million Southeast Asian
Mothers and children live in ancient peace.
China returns Tibet to the Buddhists
Who pray for atomic disarmament.
FAT MAN and LITTLE BOY’s misbegotten
Progeny are pulled apart piece by piece.
Man splitting atoms? Inconceivable!
We bury deep underground depleted
Uranium and other eternal
Radioactive wastes. No more poisons.
Sonnet 4: Back to 1930s
Japanese Americans don’t hear the
Orwellian phrase, “Relocation camp.”
In each early Decembers, Pearl Harbor
Enjoys only peaceful Buddha birthdays.
Germans give luxury first-class tickets
To Jews, Gypsies, and homosexuals
On trains running from concentration camps
Back to cities, towns, and the fertile lands.
Ex-soldiers in Europe will shovel trenches for gardens.
Guns and swords will be beaten into plowshares.
Ford’s ancestors will mass-dismantle his
Model A’s and noisy black Model T’s.
Bicycles and electric streetcars will
Glide slow and smooth down narrow, winding lanes.
Back to a Sustainable Future
Across the New World boundless forests will
Reappear—Redwoods in California,
Hardwoods in the east, rain forests in the
Amazon. Salmon and shad will run thick
In every stream. It seems we could tiptoe
Gingerly on fish backs to the far shore.
Vast herds of buffalo roam the wide plains.
Twice a year clouds of passenger pigeons
Migrate across the skies, darkening them.
Plants long thought extinct will grow everywhere
To absorb green house gasses, clean the air.
Climate changes back; ice caps refreeze, and
Glaciers grow as thick and long as ever.
Bless Us All
Everyone wakes well rested, and a day
Younger each morning. Old injuries heal,
Chronic diseases fade from memory—
Until we feel strong enough to start work.
Our careers end with four years of college,
So we can prepare for high school, middle
School, and grade school, so we can forget
What we didn’t need to know anyway.
And when we finally get to that first day
Of kindergarten, we will be ready
To be loved far beyond imagining
As we prepare to float more spaciously
Nine months in quiet, warm, and liquid bliss
Awaiting to sparkle our children’s eyes.