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MTC Cronin: Five Poems

The Law of Absolutes | 'The Laws of the Mystery' | 'The Law of the Infinite', Law of What Has Always Been Empty, Law of Hospitality and Silence | The Law of Witnessing | The Law of Zero-Grazing

The Law of Absolutes

for Justin Lowe

"Each poem, each number is an instantaneous absolute.
A lesson in sobriety and heroism."
                  —Octavio Paz

Closely aligned to the idea of halves
There is one half and there is the other
Life is instead of nothing
And though there is that expression
Life is slipping away
It never abates
Use it in the bedroom
Use it on the battlefield
To step around that music on the ground
To withstand the light
And to withstand the dark
For it becomes absolutely certain
Some things eventuate
Some appear to be this or that
Like the forbidden
Or where the poor will live
But all is collapsible
The apple into the horse
And the horse into the apple
One half into the other
A sleeping child's hand slipped
Into the frequent destination of Heaven

'The Laws of the Mystery'

Who shines like the sun, Tattiriya Upanishad?
For thirty-nine years I have lived without scars
and now have put my teeth through the skin!
Shall I eat, be eaten?
At the core of everything is a question
that will not be answered.
Does the rain find its voice on the tin roof
and when the rain speaks on the tin roof what does it say?
When it says the cloud is an anvil is it mistaken?
Why don't you open your mouth, initiate, to answer?
Because you were sworn to silence?
And were you sworn to silence to protect the mystery
or to pretend it?

Now you shine like a sun
welcoming home your dark brothers and sisters.
Remember how they shadowed you
as the scar today has given me a date and from a date,
a memory.
Now I know I have lived!
My belly growls warning God and death
they will not be born.
Tattiriya Upanishad,
I am eaten, I am eating the world.
The laws are devoured and devouring.
Oh wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!
Oh how many gifts do the days give our lives!

'The Law of the Infinite',
Law of What Has Always Been Empty,
Law of Hospitality and Silence

for Edmond Jabs
This, according to who speaks, is the law of the book.
For our words to have value, we must tremble as we write.
And yet we balance like goats on our ideas, interrupt
the sky with our etchings arrowed at civilization
as if they might be what shines out of a dance
and not the sound of a heart, like hundreds of beasts
pawing the ground.

And luck survives ... and survives.
The warning, it seems to us, is never about death.
We open its narrative with our hands held before us,
as if magic could execute itself, as if simultaneously
the story was lawful, spontaneous, factory
and a work of art.

We search always for a new cave, empty of other bodies
and think about what is worthy of desire
the way things occur to detectives.
Even beasts have office hearts, all our ideas finally lost
in the argument of infinity.

The Law of Witnessing

for Arthur Koestler
He told me he saw the tree trunks
   turning to water, that his hand
      covered with soil was a damp

He told me he saw these things
   with his living eyes and that when
       he had no eyes he still witnessed
         his life.

He told me there is a Law of the motion
   of heavenly bodies and another, hidden,
         of gravity in history.

There was a man, he said, who in order
to be King had to kill everyone from where
   he came.

Everything shall only be possible once, he said,
   and I am a chronic condition, submissive
      to the blood and the remembered

The Law of Zero-Grazing

From this moment on,
this precise moment,
the exact time or zero hour
fixed for the beginning
of this practice,
everything will be delivered.

Cut grass, acts of hope,
sticks and fine sand.
Stamping of the heels,
a ribbon or fillet, flocks.

If for any reason,
any reason at all,
there is a need to go out
from this moment on,
the earth will waver
and simply fall away.

Do not be irresponsible
and responsible for this
but wait for what is brought.
Notices, rippling water,
a baker's grater?

Whatever they bring
will have no unfortunate
consequences surely,
for it must be assumed
it was not needed elsewhere?

A grim, a tidy, a bottle
of hay, what happens
when one person
chooses another.

Poet's Biography:
Note: These new poems are forthcoming in her collection The Law of Poetry. MTC Cronin has published six books and three booklets of poetry, the most recent being beautiful, unfinished ~ PARABLE/SONG/CANTO/POEM (Salt Publishing, UK, 2003). Her 2001 book, Talking to Neruda's Questions, is being translated into Spanish by the poet, Juan Garrido Salgado. She is currently working on her doctorate, The Law of Love Letters ~ Prose, Poems, Law & Desire, at UTS. Her next book, 1-100', is forthcoming through Shearsman Press, UK, in 2004.

© 1999 - 2003, by the poets featured herein.