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By Koon Woon
We write to be known. Being alone is terrifying. No one to bounce off our thoughts, living in a bubble and denying it. We hope to say and do the right things so that we will be loved. But sometimes we are too immature to love or even to accept love. Hopefully whenever it comes, each one of us will find love.
Many writers go to retreats. I simply close the door to my room and hang my hat and coat on the hooks on the walls - my identity as a writer. But can one really remove from one’s or all communities? While I am warm in my room, there is someone cold out there. And while there is no bullets whizzing by my ears, there are places where bombs are dropped and metal and body parts fly. In my growing city of Seattle, homelessness is becoming acute.
Don’t be timid. I tell myself. Write it. And I might find a community.
Yesterday I walked among Dasein in downtown Seattle
through the crisp loud breaking sounds of condos being constructed,
and then through the many-faced crowd where one is being arrested
while engaged in the act of face changing.
I ducked into the bus tunnel and caught a ride back
to Chinatown, to the venerated Uwajimaya food and gift shop.
Earlier I took a proctored exam in philosophy at Broadway University,
answering in my own words whether and what if the universe was causally closed.
What other possible worlds can or cannot exist?
Surely angels can dance on the head of a pin. On the way back,
I saw a man kissing a man and a woman reclining in an armchair with her shoes off outside a Starbucks, Seattle’s signature of the coffee business.
Oh, I wish I was young, or rich, or famous, or none of those things and happy.
I bought “Gun Powder,” a special blend of green tea and coming back to my Beacon Hill
neighborhood I walked deep in the ruins of autumn in dried maple leaves
among the evenly paced trees’ golden, reddish-tinted leaves that are still clinging on.
Am I as tenacious to hang onto early lessons as these foliage that defy autumn?
Will I refuse to join a declining world even though it is still basically good?
Or would I rather interfere with the automatic Dasein enterprise?
I thought of Nancy, a woman so named for a city in France.
She is kind with the kind of heart ruled equally by logic, as Descartes
had posed the mind - body problem in the early 1600s
and co-ordinatized space in an algebraic way. A woman like that is
the academy’s top prize. But will this bother Dr. Schopenhauer,
the philosopher who said only the arts can save our arse.
The world is only as good as you will it and misrepresent it.
But alright then, said Dr. Zeuss, the Cat is in the hat,
you can start a war, but I wouldn’t like that.
Send Nancy an email, be the first to refute Hegel -
what is actual may not be rational, and we know for a fact,
what’s rational is by far from being real,
but the Cat is in the hat, Dr. Zeuss said that!
It seems that life is still good, who wants it otherwise?
And when I talk to Dr. Laurence P. Jacobs,
he says, “I am a psychiatrist, you got to take what I say
with a grain of salt…” But I have no one named Leslie,
a woman I could ill-afford. So a young woman could use a line of defense;
she should refuse a ton of “love” for a grain of salt.
Life is still good, though Cheshire is missing a cat. Smile, our last resort.
When blood surges throughout the city,
when ruined minds rule the night,
one can expect what is expected now,
as light bends along the curved road to infinity,
only to discover signs that again exhort the familiar.
I was here the previous night
when the worn grooves of my brain pulverized
the twigs of late autumn,
fearing the undertow of youthful errors
drag me to dangerous depths, as
I thrashed in humiliation and anger.
What’s injured should not be injured again!
Time will pass in this city, where the slow dives
with low-blood sugar lights,
where the viaducts speed near the docks,
where the stevedores spit chewed tobacco,
where the produce trucks bring farmers’ dirt,
where the night here penetrates another virgin,
while I am untouched, unloved, unknown,
and uncaring, wishing only that I could
boom box away the night.
Ghetto youths with gangrened feet
shuffling away from the fight, knowing they face
the universe all alone. At this point of the narrative
my psychiatrist tells me
to remember humanity when a big
rock drops on my foot.
I don’t know. “Three men in ten worship life,
three men in ten worship death, and three in ten
merely go from life to death,” and I am the one
unaccounted for, even though I am registered
as a credit card holder.
Just “yesterday” I closed the door of
a room I won’t go back to;
just yesterday I stop saying
“We shall see what we shall see.”
I have seen it, well, sort of, enough of it.
I imagine not long from now
I’d be sitting in the lobby of the Emerson Hotel,
looking out, seeing young lasses walking by,
and saying to myself,
“They would decorate my room well.”
Once in a while a memory snags me -
a walk inside a city ravine, seeing
wild flowers I know not the names of.
Once in a while the image of the woman with
Spanish eyes emerge from a long, lost diary -
how she had sat frequently at the same coffee
counter. We both drank black coffee,
and not a word was ever exchanged,
for we both had our own loneliness to attend to.
Now I am a symphony of aches and pains.
I suffer if I skip my afternoon nap.
I bought and sold most of my life, but coming
out even I didn’t. Something wrong with
my methods? Or others saw futures better
than I can of commodities. Perhaps the problem was
I had forgotten the wild flowers in the city ravine,
and all I saw afterwards were commodities.