Banned book

I stopped by at the Strand bookstore yesterday to leaf through the poetry section. There was something about the banned books display that stood as testament to human fallibility.

Of the banned / challenged books displayed, some of which were the usual suspects in the political, it may be of interest to learn that a vast majority of them were the same as were part of library materials and programs challenged in the US in 2019, because they contained LGBTQIA+ issues and themes [1]. Here is a list of questions and answers of how books come to be challenged [2] or the books that have been banned earlier in the US [3]. As the American Library Association explains, censorship can be subtle, almost imperceptible, as well as blatant and overt, but, nonetheless, harmful and it quotes John Stuart Mill on the issue, who wrote in On Liberty: “If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind …”

It’s no wonder why Leonard Cohen’s poem, Gift, struck me as beautiful, poignantly perceptive of the human conundrum, to speak our truth or not to speak our truth or if there is a truth to be articulated, if at all.

Hallelujah !
I found this delightful poem on a shelf at the Strand

We appear to live in Jose Luis Borges’s “Library of Babel”, locked up in our mental hexagons [4]. If in addition, we have difficulty being compassionate to ourselves, how then, I wonder, can we assimilate the disparate views of others. Is that why writing is banned? I imagine the writing in our own hearts and minds, for we must take great pains to ban it from our own consciousness. Ah, all those psychosomatic illnesses recorded in the DSM-5 must have some as yet indefinable empirical cause, even so the drive to conquer the insurmountable too, comes from the same source. A bundle of contradictions, we are, sweet sentient human beings, or perhaps self protective, highly evolved, mammalian survivors.

There were many books in the store as there are seconds in a day. Is there an algorithm on how books come about on a shelf or sashay, whiplash, fondle, hack through the public imagination, which is a great place to be, for attention has always been a scarce and expensive commodity. I easily gravitated to Mr Cohen’s book, simply because I spoke of him in another poem a while ago. So much for the algorithm and for the one in my head. The wood-wide-web of the internet on the other hand could be a blessed thing, so expansive, aligned with every Uranian vision, no tragedy of the commons and an irreversible flowering of time into the kaleidoscope of the future.

A bag at the bookstore
Eighteen miles of silence
etched in love's ink for
Saturn, chained to affliction.
Strident affections flayed
and banished to pages
tossed to obscurity,
afraid that heart wounds
would burn in the light of day
on soft paper meant for fireplaces,
or italicized to a cold despair
in blue ink on bleak pages
Love in a bookstore is for glory
or for fame, for every name
that yearned in a million ways,
etched souls songs on labouring hearts
hid away from a shelf or a nightingale
or the prying eyes of a million voices
jostling for space, speaking a version
of truth, mine, yours, his, hers, ours, theirs.
But banned to you, I, him, her, us and them
is love that is simply for love, art simply for art, poems simply for poems, science simply for science and life simply for life
Is everything we do for a turbid audience?
Are all poems a settling of soul?
Is the heart simply pulse?
Is life simply surviving breath?


[4]The Library of Babel ~

An uncontrollable fusion of a Solar love

Writing of love feels like an exercise in words, trying to define the indefinable within the stricture of language. Philia, Storge, Ludus, Agape, Philautia, Eros, Pragma … mere words that attempt to trace the ephemeral which escapes containment in syllables and consonants.

I think of the Sun when I imagine love that millions aspire to. The one that we glorify on Earth instead is that which never seems to get past the stage of affections or useful partnerships or a deep caring based on mutual respect and trust. Love for all intents and purposes appears quite practical, hormonal, hardwired into humans for the issuing of progeny and their caretaking, ensuring their chances of survival. Love aspiring to selflessness is painted often to be the holy grail. It’s terrible to imagine such a lofty unattainable ideal, it’s inherent impossibility and consign thus, ones attempts at love towards abject failure.

Is the answer then, not to idealize love in the way we imagine God or soul, creating such illusions to make those that seek, feel like failures in the absence of achieving that which cannot even sufficiently be described. The poem I write is about the holy grail of love, something one aspires to like God but the truth of which may never be known or perhaps something definable like the nuclear fusion within the Sun but extremely difficult to replicate.




My Lord, I see you burn in passionate collisions / the universe conspires for such a meeting of minds in atoms / Was that the pressures of the Milky Way / the burdensome tug of orbit / gruesome gravity of planets / or nothing / but the fallacy of an eternal flame of selflessness //

Magnetic / interactions of atoms in soul / folding in unison into the hot of temperament / or was it temperature / Are they not the same / and us, mediocre imitations in our tepid flares of love sonnets / our feeble attempts in the melding of atoms / as we disrupt under practical pressures to a sad fission//

You burn in the lack of a starry name / venerated in mythical euphemisms of Man to be solely himself / Mithra / Jesus / Sol invictus / but You are no Man nor Woman / You power the world of plants / brighten Venus and Mars / hold the earth in a vice grip / as you vaporize the emotions of the morning /after the lashing out among the sheets of a bygone night under a full moon / which is simply fire on a dimmer switch //

The Love frenzy of plankton / boiling away the ocean for the function of the ages / acceding to the philosophy of purpose / practicing economy of gonads / surviving annhilation in annhilation / What then is love / but that which is in You, the Solar orb / the singular conceit of eternity in a blaze / and we my Lord, can never match that / in our petty commitments to mortality //

The boundless is love

We steal the glow from a warm sun
and the breath from the wind.
The animals overrun the Savanna
and we, the cities of glass and steel,
but we never lack for light nor a gentle breeze.

A strange synchronicity fills poems.
You see, cut in the same cloth are we,
beings across the Atlantic or the Pacific.
We all enter naked and exhale life in death,
our songs of exile sing of homes
we lost in the love of people like us.

Love seeks expression.
Like as aging tree, we seek to fill the space
lay down roots, brighten the sky with leaves
blossom in happiness, fruit in fulfillment
but this is life, not love.

Love does not leaf nor flower, it seeks no
rooting in place. A barren tree isn’t loveless
Have you ever wondered why water simply
is or the earth exists or the sun burns?
They all do because they are,
because they can.
This is love and it is boundless

In the space between an inhale and an exhale

Love powders the Overstory in the softest snow / like the missing tears on an endless tangle of branches / where there’s not single squirrel to be found / and the cats delicately make their way home.

In the expanse of space between an inhale and an exhale / the sky sheds memories in snowflakes / and the earth accepts the softest issues of soul as the heart grows infinitely lighter.







Sometimes it appears to me that the world is crying for loss. Grief is very real to those that are grieving but there’s a way perhaps to transmute grief into beauty and look at it another way to heal and help accept loss.

The rain feels like tears but water also attains the soft issues of snowflakes that make us stop, stare and wonder. Something to think about, surely.