Saturday, March 5, 2016

March 5: A Pact, Ted, Matthew Gavin Frank, "Antebellum"

The world has signed a pact with the devil; it had to.  It is a covenant to which every thing, even every hydrogen atom, is bound.  The terms are clear:  if you want to live, you have to die; you cannot have mountains and creeks without space, and space is a beauty married to a blind man.  The blind man is Freedom, or Time, and he does not go anywhere without his great dog Death.  The world came into being with the signing of the contract.  A scientist calls it the Second Law of Thermodynamics.  A poet says, "The force that through the green fuse drives the flower / Drives my green age."  This is what we know.  The rest is gravy.

The world is a tough place.  As Dillard says, this little piece of rock we live on signed a deal with the devil.  From the day we are born, we are dying.  Freedom.  Time.  Death.  These are our constant companions.  And in the time we have on this planet, we must struggle, relax, mourn, rejoice.  That's what our green age is all about.

I have a friend right now who is in the struggle phase of his green age.  "Ted" has recently admitted to his physician that he has an addiction to prescription narcotics.  As expected, Ted's doctor will not prescribe Ted any more painkillers, and Ted is hurting, psychologically (mainly) and physically.  He's convinced himself that the only thing that will relieve his condition is a narcotic.

I know that Ted is hurting.  Addiction is a terrible thing.  It's debilitating, affecting work and family and health.  It's something that literally controls every waking moment of every day.  I feel terrible for Ted.  Yet, Ted has taken the first step to recovery:  admitting that he has a problem.  Now, he needs to follow through.  Get the help he needs.

I wish that life wasn't full of struggle.  I wish that Ted didn't have any pain.  That his back didn't hurt.  That he didn't have family problems and finance problems and work problems.  Aside from the back problems, I could be Ted.  We all could be Ted.  That's Dillard's point, I think.  The world is all about entropy, the gradual decline into disorder.  That's Ted's story right now.  That's all our story.

When you read this post, think about Ted.  About yourself.  About the world.  We've all signed on the dotted line.  I like to think, however, that the contract is with God instead of the devil.  There is the blind man, Freedom or Time, and his faithful dog, Death.  But God sends us other companions, as well.  Joy.  Relaxation.  Surprise.  Love.

Saint Marty and Ted need to party with those dudes a little more, and maybe have a steak dinner every once in a while with Matt Gavin Frank . . .


by:  Matthew Gavin Frank

The tornado inside Adromeda laid seeds
of clover in the sky.  We took the stubble
and dissolved it in the red wine, went into
the basement of the Genome Biology Building
for asylum.

Helene had gone to a funeral that Sunday--
the body of her first lover covered
in tobacco.  She said
that in burial
the screws of the corpse meet a pressure
of any blood not cleaned out,
they shoot into dirt like seeds.  The arms
quickly flare like a chicken's,
and in the downdraft of soil
the teeth clench as if to keep
the earth out.  He was finally rhetorical, she said.

Ernie spat on the floor, unwrapped the stolen corn
from the napkin, saying, "You saw
no such thing, Helene.,"  When I was small,
Helene said, I stood with my father
at Mount Hope Cemetery.  He was fresh
with mind and antebellum.  The crops
were rotting because of the windy season,
we pricked out fingers and let them drip
onto newspaper.  Alice, in a complicated

white dress, with the tornado dropping,
feigned a seizure and wiped
her cheek through the blood.
The rows of clay idols watched

and started to tip in the wind.  Over us,
these shuddering memorials:
A rooster smothering a swallow
and behind us, two dogs

tugging-of-war with a chrysalis,
and an angel cradling a squirrel
between her breasts.  She watched
the rooster tie the swallow in a knot
and in the quake, began
to step over the wind like a plot.

Because I could not stop for Death . . .

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