And Then I Know

       Himself ~ Philip Brent Harris

I, one evening, going out to a recital, look away from my life, a brief moment.
When my gaze returns, my perception changes so questions in my mind foment.
Walking to the concert hall, after it’s rained, light reflects off every city street,
diamonds to dazzle my eyes, my life rearranges, my heart chooses a new beat.
My roadway glows golden, pointing toward not here, now, but my destination.
Late, I reach to jot a note. I find my journal missing and I sigh in consternation.
I walk past the hall, bemused, my favorite pen to hand; how can this be enough?
I trek the streets all night, my mind waxes poetic, my most magic words, fluff,
here, gone, with no way to record them. Perhaps, trite, poor, but a weak herald?
Neither profound, eloquent, wise, sacred, true, persuasive, amusing nor guiled.
A horn honks, a phone rings, a spot found on a shirt I want to wear, distracted,
time flying, I hurry out but no a final check, a decision that cannot be retracted.
My own fault, my momentary lapse, diverted by constant stimuli I daily receive.
Inundated with minutia, my daily life, chores, awful news, tired, easy to deceive.
With myriad decisions, changes, life may turn on a moment’s focus, inattention.
How many ti mes have I turned away, perceived  poorly, lacking comprehension?
Have I lost a moment, minute, hour, day, week, month, year, my entire life to date?
An artist, a poet of little regard, virtually unknown, destined to remain second-rate?
Baffled by my world-at-large, my life at times; can there a way I’ll ever be certain,
that I will ever know my true, my only path, before ringing down my final curtain?
Have I existed at angles obtuse, perceptions skewed in a perpetual glance askance?
Not those rarely seen views of writers, artists, musicians, spirits who take a chance;
those unique visions captured by a turn of head, stepping sideways, closing one eye,
or simply focus, concentration on one truth excluding all else. Have I given it a try?
What opportunities I lost, I ask, when my attention was channeled away from now,
away from what I would do, should do, must do even though I cannot cypher how?
The life I must find because it is my need, unique to me and brings me a joy I share.
Did I enter the world with eyes closed, vision distorted, lacking entirely or unaware?
Did I, as I believe, yet cannot remember, begin this life with the magic all children know,
recognize and comprehend, until our lives, each specific life is fitted out for the shitshow,
blinders, that decide what I will see, the chains to say where I may go? No matter where,
or what description, third world, second world, first world does not and cannot exist here.
Labels grave as cement slabs, obdurate prison bars, that define the walls and doors of my
asylum, where people have hopes and dreams, wear the same smile and the same tears cry
Who share all sorrows as deep, laughter as merry, no matter the cause of defeats and joys.
My emotions, reactions mirror others.You may see it as other; we play with the same toys.
Particulars, reasons of no consequence. Neither religion, reason nor brute force can alter this,
nor will any provide the right to rich, poor, caught in-between cracks, to unearth life’s bliss
No matter our location, education, station, our situation, projected, expected destination, we
will be challenged, by life, our life, all the myriad ills, pressures, which we believe must be.
Made to thwart us, to which we must succumb. We may be turned aside, may choose, may feel.
we are obligated to follow history’s steps, all those who have gone before, surrender our zeal.
Are we dazed at the light of birth, blind to chance, to possibility, shackled to tradition, unable
to follow a path which glows for us alone? Would you say, think we are limited and unstable,
shunted aside, simply wallowing in well-worn ruts, our vision locked away from this aurora,
our goal? Sent into dark forests, down into the deep mines, do we cope, burdened by plethora,
become lost, confused, feel alone, abandoned, forced to work to live, rather than simply living?
Are we trapped, blinded to the glory of the cosmos, our place within it, taking without giving?
Out the asylum windows, when other inmates secure me for a night, which may last a lifetime,
I’m captivated by a glow, ever on the horizon. So tantalizing, yet a vast distance I must climb
to reach; it conquers me before I’ve begun. I know you know this lure that hooks into my hope.
I would and will reel in this world, discover it smaller than I ever believed, or need more rope?
Though greater than my comprehension, I want to learn its secrets.  I will crack it like an egg,
split it like an atom, breaking it like dawn of a new day. I will show it to you but will not beg,
aware that I may be the only one who can clearly perceive this moment, while others only see
the expected, what they’ve always seen, unless they have witnessed their own dawn epiphany.
People taught to believe what they have learned to see, what their ancestors saw. If my vision
strikes your eyes, penetrates your pate, you may reject it, ignore it, confused, needing revision.
You may fight, frightened, derisive. If you recognize my dream, you will remember your own,
your inner ideal self. You turn away, again, pretending only hedgerows grow from seeds sown.
I must act as if mine alone has taken root, hope all else vanishes, leaving testimony, evidence
of my creativity, my singular viewpoint, starting point, ballasted or buoyed by my confidence.
I know we all are born with a path from which our community drags us, innocently, knowingly.
Some of us will strain against the shackles, argue against the party-line, propaganda, ideology
dominant around us. Those of us who choose this journey will battle unfair odds, hack a path
through the morass, the jungle that fights to entangle us, keep us within its grasp. Do the math.
I fight to forge such a path, often in darkness, with dead ends and false trails, drawn toward my
golden way, uncertain, at times, where it is, which direction I must turn and unclear as to why I
remain lost no known direction I’m heading. And, oh, the easy way, the oft-beaten track appears
around every bend in my path, as life thrusts up mountains, blocks my way, rises suddenly, nears
perilous cliffs, falling precipitously into the darkest depths, the unknown, terra-incognita. I walk
a road alone, surrounded by people from the past, the future, walking unseen. They silently talk
Still others on the same path in separate places, alternate planes within this vast and only reality.
Many turn away, resolutely, eyes, heads and beings, until they may pretend that they’re not me,
refusing to acknowledge the tantalizing glow that does exist, convince themselves and others it
never existed, except in the imaginations of dreamers, fools  and for them they know it cannot fit.
Still, they cannot resist resenting, admiring those who stride boldly forth, despite ignorance, fear,
animosity, who court rejection, dejection, failure,  staggering struggle. Hope springs eternal here
in the secret awareness I may never be recognized, accepted, that I may go to my graves mad
and grief-stricken prophets  no one sees, hears, accepts, remembers, then or later, alone and sad,
until long years after our life has been forgotten. Or never. Who are we, are you, am I? I know
this struggle, this journey of miles, toils, days, weeks, years, lifetimes; afraid to start,  never go,
losing sight. I started later than some, strayed often, following society’s preordained path instead
of my own, a path chosen for me, not by me. I succumbed to the pressure to earn my daily bread.
Convinced I must provide, financial, physical, emotional support, and did, through and for love,
afraid I would break apart before I found  my way, battered  by the ever-ongoing push and shove.
I justify my actions, in case I never reach the fabled, promised land for which I have yearned.
And yes, I know success is the quality of the journey. My life has been not easy, but I learned.
It has been more than many people can dream. Should  I not be content? Why then, do I break
trail, away from old ideas, driven by hope, wield my machete to prove I have what it will take
to not give up, give in, surrender to that which I’ve been told is inevitable but which I refuse to
believe. It is not death I speak of, my final sunset, but life, proscribed following rules others do.
Any who would convince me, persuade me not to challenge the accepted order, be it the state,
religion or war. I know, we all know life is change, constant and inexorable, yet forced to wait,
be sometimes turned aside, delayed where we are. Like electrons, we’re all, always in two places
simultaneously; we fail to recognize the small truth. Is it unrecognizable, we wear our two faces?
Both the same, too is daunting to confront unless we face it boldly? I may gamble  and lose and
still clear away debris hiding other pathways as well as my own. Building bridges that spanned
crevasses of doubt, while marking my trail. I alone will transverse it until someone, some when
realizes recognizes the signs I have left behind are in a language they understand, but until then.
It may take years or lifetimes to completely comprehend everything that I have expressed. So, I
|hope. They may teach others to read my once alien language. And to follow my footsteps,  my
path to find their own glowing roads, their golden mean. Each path followed, makes all existence
richer, as journey adds to journey; I climb upon the shoulders of past lives,  dogged persistence
of the brave vanguard which has proceeded me to discover the light of distant vistas for which
I’ll strive. I imagine multiple-dimensional perception, quantum connectivity where I am rich
with opportunity, possibility, as all paths are one path, our one path toward home. I will call,
chuckle, laugh out loud, when I realize, understand the path I’ve been following is the path all
have followed, not at the same time or place, but leading to the same destination. The pieces
of the puzzle start falling into place, rapidly revealing the whole which teaches that peace is,
was and has always existed everywhere, every-when, whether I knew it or not, whether I would
have, or could have previously accepted this truth with my limited and limiting views of good.
Until I stop and open my eyes in wonder and say, “how did I get here?” And then I know.

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