DEATHFUGUE

Poetry

[ALL RIGHTS RESERVED]

BY RUI CARLOS DA CUNHA

At twenty, I nearly join the Marines, a life-changing decision drops

the ball through the floorboards, rolls the dice before God, a choice cast years before

Twenty lacks in hindsight, the future wide open, rivers full of regret

whitewater rapids flow downstream with violence, my mind absorbs the past

even if I could see with perfect vision, time grips my consciousness hard

nothing rhymes with orange, an angel with gold wings speaks of daimonion

to meet Czesław Miłosz later on in college, this would not have happened

yet, I made my straw bed, burned down the barn, the ass at the gate spoke wisely

I am not who I am, a manifestation of arbitrary acts

Necessity chooses the shortest path, two points, a straightedge measurement

enter the stream but once not twice, not even once, the stream is within time

after philosophy, I studied languages to keep up my interests

relativity hangs in the balance, the scales tip still misunderstood

light travels within light, the whole universe is neither darkness nor light

yet, the confluence lets me see my mistakes pass as if in a vacuum

Jostle the deck, shuffle the cards, a pack without jokers at fifty-two

obliged to look forwards and backwards like Janus, I appear two-faced, no

in mythology, words create fantastical explanations, the real

nothing besides science clears the path with logic, deductive machete

transcends old growth jungles, cuts away the excess, clears a path to follow

however much I try, no one ever helps me learn how to navigate

even if my full name is Portuguese, the stars gleam without a sextant

Maybe if I had joined the Marines at twenty, things would be so different

at fifty-two, no joke, opportunity dies, the deaf can't hear a knock

reality sets in, retirement a dream, running my only hope

infamous for being famous for nothing, folks find me in emptiness

nope, I did not listen to my father's advice but followed my own goals

emptiness is tranquil, does not murder or maim, does not choose war or death

still, to this day, pivot, I regret decisions shaped by environment

As it goes, I live life not as a casualty, sad but true, of forces

Life goes on until death, the struggle to survive, to find love and meaning

in this world of chaos, of random events, chance plays a role, accidents

forecast a hurricane, a tornado, forest fires, landslides, avalanche

enter this century, dystopia written as a fairytale, yikes

challenges overcome the butterfly beating her wings in Tokyo

how much metaphysics can I swallow before I vomit up the real

arguments I engage with laughter, holding cards, upper hand, four aces

nothing perturbs my mind for long, meditation is not full of regrets

gathering the forces to overcome the drought of my financial life

income is not outcome, is not output, but faith requires brilliant corners

nothing seen, nothing heard, the other side of space, hidden within darkness

granted this gift called life, I take what I'm given and reshape the whole world

Decisive machete cuts away with logic the dross of the jungle

enter into debates with infantile morons, the game is one-sided

change the world, flip the room inside my head, my mind embraces emptiness

in time, people may read these verses for insight, how not to kill the self

still, the mirror reflects the mind in words and deeds, speech acts reflect the mind

in language, games appear, vindictive, sometimes cruel, I regret my childhood

of course, I made mistakes, I hurt people with words, in my actions and deeds

nothing can take away the pain of suffering, this sorrow and regret

Death deals a blow to all who listen to the wind, a change is gonna come

reality reflects humanity as art, a short-lived expression

ontological time exists within being itself, within the mind

pressure to perform well, to succeed, to win gold, ephemeral claptrap

silence within the sun portends the true omens within our own deathfugue