Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Holy Shock Of The Kill

I return in some sort of cycle to all these subjects of mine. This is rather bare bones here. I am beyond my depth when I face certain parts of life. I want to step out of myself and stand aside. I want to travel to the throne of God, and there wait for audience. I want to demand an answer to the “WHY!!” that tears my throat and throws me against the wall, there to slide down sitting on the shit fouled rug of the drunk’s bedroom.

That last sentence is an actual place in my life, as I watched my life being torn apart.

I have holy rage, how it feels to me. I know I can kill from there. I have traveled across the planet and there is nowhere truly safe on it. I say sit anywhere and draw a radius out to maybe ten blocks. Then sweep it around and make the circle. Everything that can happen is probably happening to someone inside this circle if you include all sentient beings. Life preys on life. If it is in the city you do this, then all you need include is other people. Someone is for this moment happy and someone else so sad that their life might be threatened. People blithely say feelings won’t kill you. Wrong. I have witnessed that. Feelings do kill, and it can take years of suffering for feelings to succeed at it.

This is all one side. But it is real enough just as it is. I made a vow many years ago that when I am happy it will not be because I have swept this part under some ragged and dusty rug. Real happiness has to survive this, rebound, and rise up again and not in spite of it, neither in spite nor because it is now gone, hi ho the witch is dead. That is because this place is never that far away no matter what you do. Real happiness keeps full awareness of this so that the pain and suffering of others is not slighted in the least when you encounter them in their moments.

They are never far away. Suffering is never far away.

Neither is the beauty of the sun setting within the clouds of the clearing storm far away, nor the beauty of the woman singing to her newborn.

The Holy Shock Of The Kill

What happens in my ancient
blood when I see the young
chicks or pups or kits, see spring
delicacies of color rise new grown
and all fresh things, what happens then
is the memory of the fires and the paint,
the preparation for the hunt, and the eyes
of the newly killed - for we have to eat.

What happens is
the holy shock of the kill,
knowing this pleasure is so deeply right
when you're the cat, the bear, the wolf,
and eagle screams in holy triumph.

But rabbit screams differently, as does doe.
Fish flops and gasps on the bank.

When I was a boy I would kill like this, practice.
No one becomes hunter without practice.
This is not and cannot be clean. I remember.
The play of it is real, more real than food,
I realized how close killing is to sex that way,
the holy shock of the kill.

What happens as I remember, my bile rises
at the shape of my own heart.
I cannot hunt now even though I still eat.

I have become the man who would break the perfect
predatory pounce if I could, desperately sad,
even sadder that I would be wrong to do it.

March 24, 2009 12:59 PM


  1. Both the commentary and the poem are very well stated and completely true. You've said well the contradiction of living happy in spite of how cruel others exist at the same moments in time, sometimes/usually as the result of the moment of happiness for someone else. Also sadly pointing out there really isn't a place to hide. There are however for some places where the odds are better, again usually at the expense of some other unfortunate soul. Thanks for the words.

  2. Anthony, it is this place and the others like it that of course are the pivot points of the soul. Completely true is a point of view. This does not deny the truth but says, if you do not stand here, then the paroxysms that drive so many others do not make sense.

    There are many of us who work very hard to avoid all the places like this that life can offer us.

    Those who come here fall into several types. Some will take this place as proof there can be no God, or if there is then God is mad, to be avoided. Others will take this place as motivation, such as, without God I am fucked. It is in this way that this place is a point of view. Buddha took this place or one like it and from here said all life is suffering. The existentialists come here and call life absurd and meaningless. The Hindus declare that this place is in the heart of things at certain times, ages (yugas), that it is thus because this is the age of Kali, the destroyer. This would be unfortunate except the motivation to get away is very high and leads to success for those who wish to find enlightenment. In other ages the path is more difficult because life is much easier without this suffering in the core of things.

    We persist in our demands to keep away from it and civilization is surely our attempt to distance ourselves where we can and gain control over the rest. We will scapegoat the world to protect ourselves. So much of the life we live is about the avoidance of this darkness for that is what we call it. We will personify it so we can hate it.

    It is nearly universal among the high religions that avoiding this place is not the way out of it. Going through it is the way out. The Christian religion says only God can go through it and succeed, thus the Crucifixion. Thus we do it by being represented by perfect sacrifice and we partake in God's success by following and walking in His footsteps. This is how we succeed, only by His help.

    The religions of the east claim differently. They assert that it is indeed in our power to go through it eventually, after aeons of ascension, or else taking advantage of a serendipity, that we are close to a path away from the longer stream that only exists near us and not at other points along the route. The only way to choose this alternative involves single minded focus on it and success in this lifetime is not certain, not likely, though it is possible. It is said that efforts along this line helps and also helps others.

    The highest of the eastern views in my opinion asserts that even if we do have a way free of the long haul we should not take it all the way because leaving the rest of the sentient beings behind is a failure of spirit. It is not good sportsmanship even while it is possible. We are called to stay and help. In this view it is claimed that we have examples, ones who have gone before, turned and come back to hold the gateway open and help the rest find it. Now we see that this is the reason for the work. We achieve, turn around and return to this side to hold the gateway open.

    What a strange state of affairs. But as you say, it is a completely true one. The moderns of course acknowledge all this and then say nothing is verifiable so it is better to put it all on the shelf and do the best one can. The spiritual existentialist replies with a wager, saying it is better to believe and commit and find out in the end I was wrong than to withold belief and commitment and then find out I was wrong. Take the bet. Some of us are confronted with a vision that coalesces and clarifies the issue and its solutions. We have no more choice, really, than those who have seen nothing.

  3. Damn. Thank you for sharing this... I think you should take chances on your work like this more often: it breaks from your usual form, and while your work is always wonderfully intense, this has a visceral, earthy feel to it that rings true. It turned out great. More of these, please. :)

  4. Oh damn. Yes, yes, so sad indeed.


  5. I think it's a whole lot simpler then those who want to control or fit in by repackaging old ideas, make it out to be. Thanks for the response. I appreciate your thoughts.

  6. Anthony, as a matter of living well you are quite right, it may not be easy or comfortable but it is simple to live toward the solutions of peace and serenity and clear sighted behavior.

    As a matter of philosophy, which also can be a calling, it is the problem of fitting the infinite into some finite frame. How can that be simple? Even though Wittgenstein said, shut up! about it, if you have the calling that is not possible.

    As a matter of living toward the light, a matter of practice and commitment, then that becomes something like the problem of eating an elephant, which cannot be done except one bite at a time with careful rests in between. Discipline, grasshopper, practice.


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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