Thursday, October 14, 2010

What We Know - Jonah Winter

What We Know

Knowing what we know
            about pineapples and tragic endings,

Knowing what we know
            about Shakespeare’s sonnets and The Statue of Liberty,

Knowing what we know
            about Godzilla vs. The Appalachian Lap Dulcimer,

Knowing volumes, as we must certainly know,
            about the frail balance of seemingly tiny things –
                    a passing smile, a glass of milk, a single raindrop
                    taken out of context, misquoted, magnified
                    until it is no longer just a raindrop
                    but rather a crystal ball
                    in the wagon of a Gypsy
                    whose eyes get big as she foretells great things
                    about the future of one particular fettuccine noodle,

Knowing how this delicate balance of seemingly disparate elements
            is what holds the universe in-tact,
            keeps the world from turning into one endless I Love Lucy re-run
            in which everything spins hopelessly out of control,
                                                as they say,

Knowing what we know
            about the Gods of Randomness, pranksters
            motivated by their singular love of paradox, up all hours
            like a night-shift of Wiley Coyote impersonators,
            planting dynamite behind our smallest and our greatest expectations,
            fiddling around with this or that unlikely outcome,
            moving us in unforeseen directions, pushing us
            like proverbial deer into the headlights
            of what comes next, what certainly must come next,

Knowing as we know
            that it has always been thus,
                    whatever that means,

But knowing as we know
            that our story, like all stories,
                    doth have a beginning, middle and an end
                    and was written in the stars
                    ages ago, long before the wondrous moments of our births,

Knowing as we know, however,
            that love has such small windows,
            and that sometimes it is necessary to bring a ladder
            for climbing up into those windows
            which hopefully will be unlocked
            on whatever textbook summer night,
            amidst a profusion of moonflower blossoms,
            we might be bold enough to reach across the galaxy
            between us, extending a hand
            for the first time, knowing, not knowing,
            but mainly knowing,

Knowing as we know
            about particle physics,
                        which ain’t much, admittedly,
            but nonetheless knowing the sheer unlikelihood, statistically,
that two such seemingly tiny, insignificant bodies in motion
            would ever cross paths,
                    much less collide, creating an explosion so massive
as to be felt and heard in the farthest reaches of Heaven,

Knowing all this, and so much more…,

How could we have ever doubted
            that whatever literal conveyor belts brought us right here
                    to this current instant
were purely random?
            How could we have doubted
                    the irrefutable truth
                                    that everything has always been leading to this one moment,
                        trickling, rushing, meandering, overflowing
                        like streams to a river
                        as yet to be named or even discovered,
                        how could we have doubted

that our fates are as inextricable as water?

How could we have doubted
            in the dungeons of our lowest hours
                    that we were never meant to be alone?

            We have arrived here,
            in this particular place, in this particular life,
            for one purpose, that we might some night,
                    aboard this twilight boat-ride through the Magic City,
            look up
                    and suddenly see the one face, so lovely,
            we know and have always known
            would someday appear, smiling, open, ready

              for the clock to start ticking,

              for this story to begin,
                                    whatever the ending might be,
                                    and whenever.

Jonah Winter
© 2010


  1. Wow! Amazing that you have captured and honed to an essence that which we are capable of knowing, but most of us choose not to acknowledge, or merely let pass by. You have truly a great gift to be able to express that.

    John, I can definitely see the influence he has had on your work, and perhaps, yours on his?


    P.S. Loved that reference to Wile. E. Coyote.

  2. Hi Kat: This is an excellent poem, isn't it? I can't speak for Jonah on questions of influence, but it's true that we both saw large quantities of the other's work between 1985 & about 1996. We also like a number of the same poets: Frank O'Hara, Apollinaire, Mayakovsky, the French surrealists, etc. (we also dislike some of the same poets, but I'll be mum as far as that goes!)