Know-nothing. . .
                                   y entre los que menos sabian
                                   yo siempre supe un poco menos —Neruda

Among those who knew
                                         what they were talking about,
I invariably knew less . . .
                                             for years I was a dangerous
young man . . . .
                            In college, I put in the required hours
of confusion—
                         daydreaming, alas, not a curriculum choice.
I retained just enough
                                       to receive my gentleman’s Cs
which kept me out of the jungles
                                                        of Vietnam,
for there was death
                                  to dodge those days
                                                                   in exams on
the Presocratics, in trigonometry,
                                                         in seminar debates about
beauty or the origins of meaning,
                                                         none of which were resolved
in classes where I hung on
                                              by an abstruse thread, understanding
that sine, cosine, tangent—
                                               coded arithmetical abstractions—
would in no way contribute
                                              to my life . . . .
                                                                        And a lifetime later
I’m proved right—
                                the geometry of the cliffs crumbling
into the sea
                      before my eyes as I continue to investigate
the square root of space
                                         still filled with silence, something
I can attest to each morning
                                                 as I step out on the porch
with next to nothing
                                    on my mind—
                                                           one page after another
of sea foam gloriously unfurling
                                                        for no reason into the air
where seagulls sing
                                  their irregular hosannas
reaffirming that the sky still supports life . . . .

I walk aimlessly along
                                       waiting for something
                                                                            besides dust
to settle on a bench
                                  from where I can continue my colloquy
through the tangled eucalyptus boughs
                                                                   highlighting
one convoluted path of reason
                                                   after the next.
Stars spin away
                              unseen all day,
                                                        but come evening seem to be
in the same place . . .
                                     I whistle after the birds
                                                                             but they know
better than to pay me any mind,
                                                       and wing away
easily up the coast.
                                  A 3-legged dog pees
                                                                   on a neighbor’s dahlias
and hobbles happily back to his own yard,
                                                                        restoring,
as best I can tell,
                               some balance in the world.

 

 

 

 

Christopher Buckley’s recent books are Agnostic (Lynx House, 2019), and The Pre-Eternity of the World (Stephen F. Austin State University Press, 2021). He has recently edited The Long Embrace: Contemporary Poets on the Long Poems of Philip Levine (Lynx House, 2020) and Naming the Lost: The Fresno Poets—Interviews & Essays (Stephen F. Austin State University Press, 2021).