by Paul Hooker
is a knife-like ridge at the mountain’s crest, slicing
the atmosphere; clouds teeter at the precipice
before plunging—which way?—down
slopes past boulders bleeding out
into deep brown gullies on
the desert floor: either
before or afterward
east- or westward
is creation’s monument to its own excellence.
At its apogee earth sublimates into sky.
In this rarefied realm there are
only ends, not middles,
truth and falsehood
right and wrong
good and evil
But stand beneath the ridge and watch
the cost of absolutes chip away at
the arete’s fragile, faultless edge.
Sharp perfection refuses any
hint of negotiation with
rain and storm. So
the rock, friable,
to come to rest in
wadis where torrents
buck and boil and bear,
grain by grain, excellence’s
final testament away, toil and
tumble until virtue, purity are at last
washed away, and rock and water come
to terms of compromise in the maybe of mud.
Note: The word “arête,” is derived through old French from the Latin arista,”ear,” and which, in the Middle Ages, described the jagged backbone of a fish. The same letters arranged in the same order denote the Greek philosophical notion of nobility, moral virtue, and excellence.
Thank you, Paul. Your poems are engaging to the imagination as well as educational.
Thanks, G.G. We miss you two around UPC. Hope your new surroundings are pleasant.
I really appreciate this poem. Thank you!
On Mon, Mar 26, 2018 at 8:23 AM, Shape and Substance wrote:
> Paul Hooker posted: “is a knife-like ridge at the mountain’s crest, > slicing the atmosphere; clouds teeter at the precipice before > plunging—which way?—down slopes past boulders bleeding out into deep brown > gullies on the desert floor: either before or afterward east- or westw” >
riding this roller coaster poem is bracing, to say the least, and it really should come with a lap bar to keep the reader seated. from that knife edge to the the “maybe of mud” i felt every word, syllable, and letter, carefully chosen, expertly placed, rather like the “clouds teetering at the precipice’ which bring to mind The Fall of huMANity. i’m left gasping amid the rocks at the bottom, hungering for and yet trepidatious of another tumble down. in your side-step away from the holy hoo-doo practiced through the years, you have unleashed a voice that you kept at heel. it’s fierce and i love it. thank you for becoming a poet.
This one is really interesting, Paul, including the structure on the page. The maybe of mud. I had just run across the word arete in my reading a few weeks ago. Great work!
Hope our paths will cross soon. San said he invited you to go fishing, but you needed to check with Pat about the date of her surgery, and he hasn’t heard since then. What surgery? Hoping all is well with Pat—and with you!
P.S. I have knee replacement surgery scheduled for April 26th. Hope I’ll be hiking and dancing within a short time afterward. >