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A Phoenix Fiction Writer Rising From The Ashes of Nonfiction




Poem Introduction

This poem is a recent revision of a poem originally written when I was in college and expands on language and ideas expressed in the poem Going Againstt Convention.



by Michael T. Martin

It is fortunate that I have lived
In the mountains and the valleys
In the deserts and in the fields
And known the backsides of most phenomena.
While the sands of time slip away

For coming down the slopes one often wonders
What is level, which way is up.
Is the slope level and vertical to it up?
Or is level and up determined by gravity,
Or do trees that grow
To wherever the sun is
Determine up?

I have seen valley sedents living side
By side knowing every neighbor knowing
His fields and boundaries knowing
His life as the world and seasons
Borne on currents of sand
Pass him by. Stable he lives on.

And I have known mountain nomads
Living side by side in transient tents
Knowing every neighbor
Knowing his flocks and status.
Wandering always moving across the country
With the seasons, passing others endlessly
Yet stable with his neighbors he lives on.

Bobbing boats have borne me from shore
And I have seen grizzled fish-scaly hands
Twisting twine into nets and pulling gasping fish
From the awesome seas. I have seen men
On boats nodding to men on boats knowing
Each other and their ways as they live on,

I have seen black grainy concrete ribbons
Carrying millions from pinpoint hovels into
Majestic cities, concentrated concrete cities.
Watched them know their neighbors, bosses,
Secretaries, and employees. Watched them
Watched them all as they live on,
While I live on in metamorphosis

I have seen men in seas thrust by surging waves
Men in deserts hoarding drying water, men in valleys
Plying gentle streams, men in mountains trudging
Through frozen sheets of ice encrusted snow,
I have seen them all, seen men looking down
One hundred stories as sand falls in
Climate controlled concrete cities
Seen them all, seen them all.

Seen them all but me: walking alone in cities.
Mountains, valleys, deserts and seashores.
Always I have been there too late,
Searching through the sands of time
For me and finding that I have moved on.
I have seen me sometimes, I think, but then
I've never really been sure, not really certain.

People have come to me at dawn and dusk
Wondering why I wander alone and I have said
How could I be alone in a sea of people
But they said people come in twos and fours
One is alone, they said, one is alone.

Which way is up I'd say, what is level.
"Do you like being alone?" they'd ask.
I am not alone I answered, so I don't know.
But you are alone, you have no one else.
I am with you, I say, here today
I'm just a mirage in a desert of sand
Living in metamorphosis

I looked one time and saw a beautiful lass,
I said she was beautiful, she said no I'm not.
Not really, she said. Which way is up, I asked.
Everyone knows that, she said, why are you alone?
I am with you, I said, and besides
I have seen trees that grow sideways
While sand falls down a funnel.

You don't love me, she cried. What is love?
I asked. I know you, I like you, I want you,
I want you to be happy, I want you to know
Me, to like me, to want me, to want me happy
Let us watch the sand flow together.
But you don't love me, she cried, not really.

Still I live on in metamorphosis
Living as a mirage in the desert.
Love has always turned to sand
For me anyway ... blowing away
In the winds of time and change.

You have changed, they say.
That's good, I reply, that's good.
I'm becoming me for tomorrow
Living in metamorphosis
I don't promise you tomorrows
Because tomorrows always come
Whether you like them to or not

People in the desert understand mirages
Still, they feel betrayed or empty
When what they thought was isn't
As I live on in metamorphosis
Watching the sand fall into tomorrow
I'm just being me looking for me
I can't feel guilty for that.

Women in particular don't understand.
I gave you water, they say though it was sand.
I gave you water, I reply. But it was just sand,
They say. What will you do if I leave, I ask.
I'll hate you, they say.
But I'm already gone, I say,
Living in metamorphosis

I have seen much but I have not seen me
Perhaps I should not despair that you
Have not seen me either. That is usual.
You are a phony, they say. What is real?
I say. Which way is up, what is level.
I think time has blown sand in their eyes
And I can see, but they think sand is
Water and that I'm drowning in the desert.

Still I live on in metamorphosis and
I have seen them all, seen them all.
People in valleys don't understand
People in mountains who don't understand
People in seashores who don't understand
People in valleys. No one understands
Anyone but themselves, except for me,

I understand them all, I have seen them all
And I understand why up is up in the valleys
And why level is level in the mountains.
But I don't understand me, I understand
Them, but I don't understand me. Me.

Time flows sand through valleys, mountains.
Deserts, and fields. Water falls from the sun,
I have seen all these things, I have to see
And act on what I see, I can only say to you
What I see, I see, what I do is me.

You are a field of sand I have sown with dreams
In a valley of time through which I pass
Staying as long as crops are ripe or until
I have enough to move on. Until then
I will tend to you and caress your furrows.
While I live on in metamorphosis

I am a bee wandering from flower to flower.
You may complain that I take your nectar
But remember, nectar is only important to me.
Flowers must have pollen and attention, you have
No use for nectar. That is symbiotic not sympathetic.

I have seen others whom you profess to love.
They come to take you in adoration, glorifying
You in crystal thrones, surrounding you in adulation.
They have picked you and honored you but
In so doing you die, wilted and tossed aside.

I only come offering myself and sand.
I take, yes, but I leave you alive and free.
I leave you memories and a chance for rebirth.
I leave before you wilt and before I change.
I found you while looking for me,
I must go on. Living in metamorphosis


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