I read all of Kingdom of Ordinary Time yesterday afternoon. I was sitting in my office and it was on my desk. I couldn’t help myself and before I knew it a good hour and half had passed and I had to leave. Of course, this was the first reading and I’ll go back through the book many times, but this is my favorite poem so far.
The thing about the Greeks and Romans is that
at least mythologically,
they could get mad. If the man broke your heart, if he
fucked your sister speechless
then real true hell broke loose:
“You know that stew you just ate for dinner, honey—
It was your son.”
That’s Ovid for you.
A guy who knows how to tell a story about people who
really don’t believe the Golden Rule.
Sometimes I fantasize saying to the man I married, “You know
that hamburger you just
gobbled down with relish and mustard? It was
If only to watch understanding take his face
like the swan-god took the girl.
But rage makes for more rage–nothing to do then but run.
And because rage is a story that has
no ending, we’d both have to transform into birds or fish:
constellations forever fixed
in the starry heavens, forever separated,
Remember the story of Athens and Sparta?
That boy held the fox under his cloak
and didn’t flinch. A cab driver told me the part
I couldn’t remember this morning–
in Sparta he said it was permissible to steal
but not get caught.
The fox bit and scratched; the kid didn’t talk,
and he was a hero.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,
Jesus said. He said The kingdom of heaven
is within you.
And the spiked wheel ploughed through the living centuries
minute by minute, soul by soul. Ploughs still. That’s the good news
and the bad news, isn’t it?