Thursday, May 25, 2006

Abalone Moon Journal

Abalone Moon is a "journal of the poetry and the arts" and worth checking out. The current issue features the work of Brendan Constantine. You can also read his interview with Velene Campbell.


No Guessing

I keep reading how destiny laughs at chance, how the man who said so
was ahead of his time, but he was seventy when he died, had a beard
like a white Persian cat devouring his considerable face. I bet he
didn’t go willingly.
I bet he didn’t say “Honey, would you hold my pen, it’s my
turn
to die.” I bet someone had to pry the bedsheets from his hands. And
after
they wrote him into the ground, his beard went on growing, grew until
it
had arms and legs, a tail and teeth. I bet it prowls the cemetery
still, a huge and muscled
snow leopard, the old man’s skeleton still caught in its
coat.
There’s no telling if you’d ever see it and if you did, no guessing if
it might
tear you apart like a bedroom. Destiny can laugh all it wants about
chance,
but chance is on the floor about destiny. It’s knocked over the table
with the candles and the goldfish. The carpet is ruined, the party is ruined,
the night is ruined,
it can never be cleaned.

Brendan Constantine


The beard of this deceased seventy-year-old can be seen as a metaphor for the human desire to live. It sprouts "arms and legs, a tail and teeth." It "prowls the cemetery" refusing to rest or move on; it is stuck and angry and threatening. It is clinging to life; it is a stuck and angry life, but still a life.

Last week, I was helping a friend who has been depressed for a long time and was starting to have suicidal thoughts. Although she wasn't sure if she wanted to live, I know if her life were threatened by an intruder or a disease or a car barrelling toward her, she would fight tooth and nail to survive. It's strange how that instinct kicks in. When we have the leisure to contemplate our lives, it is so easy to judge them, to criticize ourselves for how little we think we do or how far we are from reaching our goals. We might wonder if our lives matter. But when our life is threatened, we are wired to fight for it with everything we have. Destiny carries no relevance when you just want to live.

1 comment:

T L Reynolds said...

Okay. This is one of my favorite poems. I love the image of the beard; Its parallel, the ghost. The notion of density and the irony in that the beard clings to life while at the same time it seems to be the opposite of density.