Synesthesia - Haikus
The Nature of All Things

(Poems for Journeys)

piero scaruffi (2006-08)
TM, ®, Copyright © 2008 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.

Nature, the eternal thinker,
thinking all of us,
fulfilling our desire to be
and not to be...

The end of the Namibian desert as it meets the Atlantic Ocean (Namibia, 2004)

Preface

After any trip, i feel
that a part of me
is not with me
anymore. My senses
have not returned.
I still see my hands
trading money for food
with street vendors,
i hear the squeaking
steps of the temples,
i see my body stooping
on a crowded bus, and
dusty roads unfolding
outside the window,
i can inhale the scents
of markets and cafes,
i still rock the wicker
armchair in the hostel's
breezy veranda, and still
taste the pungent elixir
brewed by the cordial
genie of the hamlet.
The life that i thought
i had left behind me
is still ahead of me.
Life lives forever.
My eyes will never close.

Preface

Blindness should be blessed:
it makes all seasons winter,
it makes all memories alike.
I have been in many places.
I have heard many stories.
I have seen and i have been.
Elsewhere is often here
but then is never now.
If there was a first story,
how was it and what about?
The story of all stories,
perhaps. A story that begins
and ends with itself. No
ending but its own beginning.
No ending but its own ending.
I wonder if elsewhere there are
endings. I wonder about
the first man who wrote
the first story, the man
who first loved a woman.
I wonder if that primeval story
and my story are the same,
or two or more. And i wonder
if i am like him or, perhaps,
i am him, disguised like me.
I wonder if i unfold into his
past, or he into my future.


Race Track in Death Valley (California, 2006)

Death Valley 2006

(Pictures)

Sometimes the geometry of Nature
reflects the geometry of the heart
as it fans out in all known directions
in its vain quest to grasp the essence
of itself and rediscover the unknown,
in the process realizing that we are
but a vehicle for gods of infinite
knowledge to carry out and win
their cynical game of chess.

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Inside the Grand Canyon (Arizona, 2006)

Grand Canyon 2006

(Pictures)

I wish i could remember
the words of the wind
at the trailhead. Alas,
my psyche is already
flirting with the notion
that i am this draft,
and this frigid night
is nothing but a warped
mirror image of my life.
The canyon opens below me,
its music, that only gods
can hear, a fossil record
of trite events that changed
at least the entire universe.
Distant petroglyphs smile
at the shadows of the rim.
Everything i ever wanted
to know about nothing lies
inside this giant cavern.
Half asleep, i hardly pay
any attention to the oracle,
cruising the Moon's halo,
who clarifies the point
of not being here only
for the sake of being.
Likewise, there is no sky
tonight to blame for all
that will take place; just
ephemeral wafts that descend
on the pilgrims from the heights
of the weathered gorges where
dawn and rock melt into faces
of vicious supernatural beings.

What is truly terrifying is
that everything i see and hear
shall outlast the memory of it.

Nearing the end of the trek (the once
distant summit, where the surly stones
and the loveless sand have mutated
into green promenades of empathy),
the creek's hushed singing sustains
the tone of this collective soliloquy,
of all nature revisiting the pain
after surviving the tragic ordeal
discreetly articulated by the dead
leaves along our trail. Which one
is for us, the sign or the message,
the admonition or the welcome,
the regret or the relief, the sunset
that will soon envelop all of us,
alive and dead, or, finally, the blood
that flows and pulsates madly
under the skin of all of us,
alive and dead, ready to soar into
countless more sunsets in countless
more landscapes of countless more
worlds for countless more centuries?

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Tide pool of Point Reyes (California, 2007)

Point Reyes 2007

(Pictures)

I see everything everywhere.

What hovered above our sleep
that night by the stormy beach
was not a cloud of shooting stars
but glimpses of our unlived lives
streaming through the blue dunes
and scattering grains of sand
over the naked body of the lagoon.

At sunset, as the ocean erupted
flotsam and desperate seagulls,
the rising shadows of the cliffs
had changed the familiar landscape
as well as our flickering identities.
I don't remember whether it was i
or the waves that whispered "At last!"

The underwater world, revealed
in the afternoon by the low tide,
sank again, and with it the silent
starfish and sea anemones, patterns
and metaphors that self-reorganize,
tinkling filaments of consciousness
(the fragile wavering membrane
that separates the outer world
from our inner circuits). (Objects
can intrude in my mind by vibrating
in unison with that pulsating skin).

As we buried ourselves in our tents,
the shore became a spiritual hall
of private prayers and public agonies,
waves grooming zen gardens
around improvised temples,
all the time leaving behind
shiny fragments of the abyss
as markers to find our way back.

It all looked like the mirror image
of someone we used to know, and,
to our relief, was no more with us;
the point being that life cannot
and does not go on: it merely is.
Life, like eternity itself,
invokes and succumbs to the sea,
and endlessly flows back
towards the unknown center,
each and every drop of water
contributing to the overall sense
of oblivion and being lost forever.

Trying to grasp the sun before it set,
i had been instantly turned into ashes,
rainbows melting in my pupils.
and was now contemplating the afterlife
from the vintage point of emptiness.

While countless suns
tumbled down from the stem
into the horizon,
the nature of reality
became irrelevant.

I was being swallowed
in a dark pool of time;
flown away by the whirlwind
like the tiny speck of dust
whose life is no more
than a painful spasm.

I see everywhere in everything.

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Snow sculptures in Mt Lassen Park (California, 2007)

Lassen Park 2007

(Pictures)

We didn't know
what we didn't know.

Winter had sculpted
white steeples and gates
in the dull stillness
of our consciousness.

A swirling powder of sunrays
rained on the crystal lattice,
on trees wrapped in kimonos
on bouquets of glittering snowflakes.
The mind, jumping back and forth
between the dimension of reality
and a world of metaphysical mirages
that hinted at a different kind
of existence, played a dangerous
game: our determination concealed
the reason of its own demise.

The gentle budding of icicles
blurred the boundaries of our
imagination. Other faces
were walking towards us
only to disappear before
we could identify them.
The signs in the snow were
not footprints but puddles.

However, the mountain, by just standing there,
had the faculty of controlling our thoughts,
of demonstrating the mutual complementarity
of the natural order and of everyday life,
the transparent structure of the world;

that the essence is absence.

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View of Mt Tamalpais from the coast trail (California, 2007)

Mt Tamalpais 2007

(Pictures)

Armed with scalpel
and compass, the Sun
chisels the crests
that will embrace it
as visible echoes,
honing blades of breath
through yearning slits,
plowing gullies to breed
waterfalls, and fanning
a cobweb of still ponds
to see itself and rhyme
at every hour.

Armed with magnifying
glass and clepsydra,
the crest paints the suns
that will hold its scented
braids in place, the eyes
that will roam its intimacy
until they weep fire drops
onto dusk's funeral pyre.

Each has to draw
identity and meaning
from the other's secret
code, lest they both drown
in a swelling surf
of irrelevance, lured
into a vacuum of mirages.

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Cathedral Lake in Yosemite (California, 2007)

Yosemite 2007

(Pictures)

The lake
   appeared
      when i
         did not
            expect it
               anymore,
                  out of
                     the snow
                        that veiled
                           the footprints
                              of yore,
                     its granite
                        shores
                           glittering
                              like gold,
                     its icy fur
                          drenched in
                             dark clouds;
      suddenly a
         beginning
            that i
               did not
                  want to
                    continue,
                     the destination
                        reached
                           the journey
                              drained
                                 of its purpose:
going back
   home
      is a way
         to surrender.
I
   shall
      be
         here
            forever.

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Santa Elena Canyon (Texas, 2007)

Big Bend Park 2007

(Pictures)

Likewise,
the echoes
in the shrinking
gorge
seemed
to assert
a life
of their own,
a spasm
to persist
or a yearning
to exist
in the absence
of the speaker:
were they our voices,
or were we theirs?
The frothy
billows
swallowed
our faces
in the same way
that the banks
had swallowed
our words.
Something
was missing
in that game
of deception,
perhaps
just the fact
that it was not
an ordeal
plotted
against us
but the natural order
revealed to us
by an invisible
prophet.

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Cactus blooms (Texas, 2007)

Emory Peak, Big Bend Park 2007

(Pictures)

(This poem is an infinite loop).

... but the rainbow that sprouted
as we were gazing away
from the last ashes of sunset
over the desert's cemetery
of sobbing dunes and dry lakes
unequivocally pointed the way
to a point in curved space
at the center of an infinite
coil of tumpisa prisms
(we make constellations
out of stars, but what
do we make out of rainbows?),
a digression to the debate
between past and future
that had firmly taken hold
earlier in the day fueled
by the pink cactus blooms
that littered the slough,
and by the myriad ghost
butterflies spiraling out
of the dolomite puddles
in the eocenic river bed,
all of them protagonists,
as well as willing victims,
of the tragedy of eternity,
but the rainbow that sprouted...

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Boulders at the top of Mt Brewer, Kings Canyon (USA, 2007)

Mt Brewer, Kings Canyon, 2007

(Pictures)

(This poem is an infinite loop).

...shouted back at me
the intricately sculpted
face of the mountain,
descending on me
like a sunset at sunrise;
a murky palimpsest
of disembodied boulders
and ominous chiaroscuro
apparitions. Today did not
feel like today, or, for
that matter, a day at all.

Nothing presented itself
the way it was going to be:
the tiger lilies consumed
by the allure of summer;
the grammar of anxiety
instilled in the deer;
the logs waltzing before
the dive of the waterfall;
or the dew drops signing
the cobweb's transparent map...
(The shorter the distance,
the longer it takes).
A play without an author,
rehearsed in secret by a cast
of misleading characters.

They appeared to mark the route,
but, at closer inspection,
they occupied random positions;
a treacherous trail of blind spots
leading to a protean crevasse.

Wronged and effete, i grieved.
The sky...

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Flowers of the Sierra Nevada (California, 2007)

Shepherd Pass, Eastern Sierra 2007

(Pictures)

The peace that we longed for
when we started our journey
soon revealed its other face,
achieving nefarious dissonance
with the very natural environment
that we thought its prerequisite.

It struck me that the difference
between the microscopic world
and the sober macroscopic world
that, despite physics, arises
from the other's drunkenness,
is a difference in harmony,
as the organic blending of rock
and life yields forms, contours
and colors that lost the ability
to create themselves. Mountains
and lakes are monoliths of death
that harbor a myriad rebirths.

Every stone is a sign for every
flower to understand, but no moon
can decipher the swelling tide
of a cobweb in the florid geyser
of the butterfly's first twilight.

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Owens Valley (California, 2007)

Split Mountain, Eastern Sierra 2007

(Pictures)

The last time that i sat
alone in the grass
listening to the universal clock
tick
while you, the Moon,
were dancing among the clouds
indifferent to the gods and legends
that we invented to explain your
indifference
was the day that a kite drowned into my eyes,
a fleck of dirt on the retina
that gravity no longer connected
to the motion of the heavens,
no longer harbored from the chaos
of life,
when i peeked at my mirror image in the firmament
and saw a hole in the fabric of spacetime,
a tunnel of whirling receding silent light
that
gazed back at the meadow in which i was reposing
like an ancient echo between two worlds
that had never communicated before:
the self
and the non-self, no matter how entangled their shadows,
no matter how identical their shapes,
were each the portrait of the other,
in fact
each the tune that the other hummed to the man
in the meadow, each trying to assemble
the truth about the other from the few
ephemeral fragments revealed and slyly
perverted.
Then i came to realize that the infinitely small
microcosm bounded by the kite's orbit,
this obscure untested hypothesis
of mortal matter, was the only reason
to see,
to exist.

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Cliff houses in Dogon country (Mali, 2007)

Teli, Mali 2007

(Pictures)

The unobserved edge of the cosmos,
surveilled by giant humming shells,
subsumes vast quantum reservoirs
whose random flares scatter space
throughout the glazed hemispheres
inhabited by observers.

The skies of Africa
(there are many, one
encircling the other)
mirror the joy
and sorrow sown
by ancient people,
who were fluent
in magic, for us
to harvest, fluent
in science.
There is no place to stop,
nothing that would impede
the quest, bury our will.
We hesitate, whether
to proceed forward
through countless gates
or to follow the bend
in the shell, coasting
the scar in the hillside
pillaged by ventriloquist
stones, and fall back
to the dead end,
shelter and oblivion.

The cyclopes lumped us together
on this land with no harbor.
We changed it into a harbor
with no land: we turned life
into death, and death into us.
We are actors, not castaways.
The sea is the real castaway,
the sea is the prisoner, the sea
is the witness. We are the dunes;
the deaf, still, shallow edges.
We have lost sight of the wreckage
and of its babel of spasms.

The vestigial memory of the wreck
drifts ashore without a sound.

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The canyon to Sphinx Pass from Lake 4 (Kings Canyon, California, 2008)

Sphinx Lakes 2008

(Pictures)

The certainty of sunrise,
its tedious inevitability,
spoils the meaning of it,
because meaning, by definition,
involves a degree of ambiguity,
a morbid loss of virginity.

There is only one substance:
darkness makes up multiple;
light makes us one and whole.

After the hail that wove
tiny rainbows of pebbles
we sense and permeate
the throbbing breathing
core. We are transplanted
into an ever new heart.

Exploring the absolute
entails knowing where
the absolute resides.

The wave that connects us all,
the dream that dreamed us all.

We can't recall anymore
what sunrise meant to us
before it molded us
into what we now are.

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Mt Whitney's mountaineering route (California, 2007)

Mt Whitney, Eastern Sierra 2007

(Pictures)

The clairvoyance of silence,
conveyed in the steep chute
by a chiming whiff of vertigo,
blinded me like a butterfly
caught in a blazing hurricane.

The watch reads no time.
Space dissolves into
one large all-devouring
shadow.

I emerge breathless
to a vast view of omens
and vestiges. The monoliths
that question my inaudible
rhymes do not dispute
my status as voyeur
or detective, but i
grapple with the logic
of their stillness.

Who will deliver
the message
to the messengers?
Who will be
the witness
for the witnesses?

I confused
my metaphors
again.

Pure silence descends
on the anchorite's gaze.

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The Cottonwood Lakes (California, 2007)

Mt Langley, Eastern Sierra 2007

(Pictures)

As the horizon becomes
a lengthy abstraction,
light floods my eyes
from every direction.

The world, we forget,
is the forced absence
of light. Objects are
edges meted on glare.

As i wade the flow,
landscapes appear.
I take note of them
like an able draftsman.
Each sparkle renews
the mosaic, and some
must be trimmed off
if not swallowed up
promptly by the snow.

Time exhales light
like a moth exudes silk.
Time bleeds on us.

Existence
is an optical illusion.

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The Palisade Crest (California, 2007)

Scimitar Pass, Eastern Sierra 2007

(Pictures)

Having repudiated
the moral cacophony
of the city, the mount's
virginity (the tenuous
fragrance of the snow,
the labyrinthine pomp
of the withering glacier)
restored my weary soul
to the primordial spleen
of the geological stripes.

We failed. Humbled,
we learned that maps
don't lead to places
but merely let us
imagine them; that we
succeed inasmuch as
we fail.

We had wanted
to change the world
for the worse,
and the world
instead changed us
for the better.
We had no
choice because
all we had,
in the end,
was choice.

Paradise
is not a place
but a state
of mind
that we
demonized.

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A sub-peak to Mt Keith (California, 2007)

Mt Keith, Eastern Sierra 2007

(Pictures)

The sky is morphing into us.

A conflagration of sunsets
reminds me of a conjecture
that was never proven
by the ancient scholars;
that we roam not the world,
but merely our pitiful soul.
That we inhabit the plane
of prior existence, fulfill
the prophecy of inexistence.

From this vintage
point it appears
that the center
of the universe
is a mirror.
We pace back and forth
through it, cross our own
footsteps, repeat ourselves,
like a spider weaving
its web.
At the end we have
seen nothing else
or more than ourselves
toiling frantically
to bestow an intricate map
on a flat unbroken land.

The possible infinites
are reduced to none.

The world is not an idea,
Arthur: each idea is
a world.

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The view from the summit of Cone Peak (California, 2008)

Cone Peak, Ventana Wilderness 2008

(Pictures)

Arches of time
link the two ridges
of the canyon,
one in the shade
and one in the Sun,
like a meeting of matter
and antimatter,
that attract
and self-destruct,
the river buried
by the darkness
that slowly engulfs
the other side,
by the collision
that was inevitable,
by the future
that we would
rather forget.

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The Moon over the Ventana Wilderness (California, 2008)

Los Padres National Forest 2008

(Pictures)

There are no birds.
Chaos lurks everywhere.
One can hardly
discern the path
in the dead forest
of stinging shrubs,
towering yuccas
and octopus roots:
unbridled nature
self-destructs.
Or so we argue
to dispel the notion
that we are lost.
The world from here
is a terrible creature,
its bowels overflowing
with shapes and colors
that scratch and burn,
the very antithesis
of geometric beauty,
a euphoric mayhem
that tears the soft
canvas of the sky
and lets us peek
at what lies behind:

We need to conquer
the nightmare, so that
we can resurface to another,
bleaker nightmare, to a
far more decisive chaos
of overcrowded cities.

We reach the creek,
and find its water
devoid of fish.
From down here
life looks like
a gross mistake.

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Sculptured Beach (Point Reyes, California, 2008)

Point Reyes 2008

(Pictures)

You can view
the sculptures
that emerge
from the sea
as vocables
in the language
of the tide.
Nature talks
to everyone
all the time.
What we comprehend
is only a fraction
of what we are told.
Our existence is
a constant flow
of meaning from
the world to our
minds. However,
each species
can process
only a part
of that code,
and thus knows
only a fraction
of the truth.

The living
world at large
is feeding on
an eternal now
that is neither
eternal nor
now;
whose opaque
landscape
we can roam
but never
fully see.

I read the frail
organisms that cling
to the submarine stones
as metaphors for our
own vain struggle
to shape a coherent
self in the absence
of divine guidance.

I waited for a question,
not an answer, until sunset,
until the statues vanished
in the rising waters. By then
the multitude of sparkling
corpses floating on the surf
looked like the alphabet
that i had tried to learn.

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A tree by the estuary (Estero, Point Reyes, California, 2008)

Point Reyes 2008

(Pictures)

A labyrinth of destinies
swims in the surfs, defying
the all-embracing symbolism
of the beach, a prison for
dreams, a reliquary of
untold stories. The seagulls
are strange messengers. They
know, but they don't tell.
A sea is, ultimately,
a hole in the mirror.

The masque of death
unfolds in front of us,
anxious spectators
who, by design, are also
indifferent protagonists.

What we are today
is a special case
of what we will be
tomorrow.

I hear the cries of those who
have been deprived of salvation.
I see the twitching of a poet's
metaphor. I feel the pain
of the immaculate ending.
And i behold the goddess
of these seas, the thinker
of the very first thought,
silently staring at herself
in the mirror.

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Yucca flower (Botchers Gap, California, 2008)

Ventana Wilderness 2008

(Pictures)

The golden trees
emerging
from the mist
that crawled
up the canyon
are telling us
a story that is
about them
as well as
about us
listening
to them.
They are both
in the past
(when they talk
to themselves)
and in the present
(when they talk
to us).

The forest
is both
them
and us.

Eventually
leaves
reappear.
Their
fragrance
diverts
the mind,
unable
to discern
a reflection
of our home
from a glimpse
of a new
direction.

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Mt Williamson from the "Saddle" (Eastern Sierra, California, 2008)

Mt Williamson, Eastern Sierra 2008

(Pictures)

Twitching filaments
in the air quarrel
with the fossil snow
of the gully.
A necklace of clocks
curls like a snake.
Visions undo
visions. The mind
is a factory
of illusions.

I sense, however,
a logic behind
the mirages.
It feels as if
i have been still
all the time,
while all else
has been traveling
towards me;
as if the world,
that had always
been moving
in one direction,
had suddenly
changed course
and retreated
its steps.

It feels so high,
so close to the Sun,
that i wonder if we
would be better off
without the sky.

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TM, ®, Copyright © 2008 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.


The Young Lakes and Ragged Peak (Yosemite, California, 2008)

Mt Conness 2008

(Pictures)

The magnificent firestorm
of the scarlet cardinal
as it circles and zigzags
radiating petals of light
momentarily blinds
the entire galaxy.

A sky observed by humans
is a multi-dimensional
experience. The contrast
between what lies above
and what lies underneath
creates waves of meaning.
(If i had your wings,
bird, i would not
fly: i would, instead,
ponder what wingless
beings would do
with my wings.)

I started listening
to my own breathing,
to the lost verses
of the supreme poem.

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Wildflower along the Piute Creek (Eastern Sierra, California, 2008)

Piute Pass 2008

(Pictures)

I lit the fire.
Infinite skies
reflected it
to the rest
of the world,
and the world
was forever
transformed.
Dawn does not
just happen.
I happen. Life
is a subtle
interplay
of me asking
the questions
and the world
responding.

Life is an algebra
of symbols that entail
each other ad libitum,
jugglers of noumena
and emotions deceived
by supernatural forces.

You can see a random
image of yourself
in any dead organism.
A mirror is the cruellest
messenger: it is Time
that disintegrates
and buries itself
in the birthpangs
of other images.

My fire has died out.
Its ashes are swallowed
by the giant shadow
that emanates at night
from the corpse of Shiva,
his many arms forming
a dome of glittering
pebbles and shells
inside the overcast eyes
of the Moon,
his frenzied dances
infinitely reflected
to every corner
of the labyrinth
that we entered
when we exited.

Suddenly, it is time
to go home again.

How fitting that "home"
be on the opposite side
of where i came from.

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Gardiner Basin (Kings Canyon, California, 2008)

Kings Canyon 2008

(Pictures)

And Schroedinger
did not believe
it either that we
can be and not
be at the same
time. He heard
the sound but did
not recognize
the language
that was spoken
to him. Did he
at least know
the speaker? I
have often found
trails that are
and are not. They
simultaneously lead
to nowhere, somewhere
and everywhere.
They lead back
to me, to my
mother's womb,
to the dirt that
we have all been
before anybody
was even born,
and to this unknown
place where i lost
the true trail,
to the doubt that has
to elapse before
i can return to
any certainty.
We were and
will be, but
perhaps we never
truly are.

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The Minarets region from Ediza Lake (Ansel Adams Wilderness, California, 2008)

Mt Ritter 2008

(Pictures)


I often imagine
buildings
that cannot
be built.
I wonder
if there exists
a mountain
that cannot rise
or a river
that cannot flow.
The impossibility
of being
is the secret
of being.

Being is
neither time
nor space.

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The McClure and Lyell basins and Lyell Canyon (Yosemite, California, 2008)

Mt Lyell, Yosemite 2008

(Pictures)

What is
the dao
of the ant
that is creeping
down the only
cleft
of the only
stone
that it has
ever known
towards the nest
founded
in ancestral
times,
as the first
droplet of rain
seeps through
the warm layer
of moss
and putrid
leaves,
signaling
that her
precarious
world
will soon be
obliterated?

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The Barrett Lakes from the North Palisade (Eastern Sierra, California, 2008)

Palisades, Eastern Sierra 2008

(Pictures)

We know that there is a border
but we have not found it yet.
What we found is ever more land.
More space to roam, map and plow.
Not a soul trudges ahead of us
but someone marked the route for us.

We crossed the path so many times,
before we realized it was, indeed,
a trail. A direction, not a mere
reflection. A genuine aspect
of reality, not a mere distraction
of metaphysics. A long spiral
not to follow but to unwind.
From the top of the tower,
another ideogram to grasp.

At noon the scar in the earth
glitters so still and selfish.
It is sand and it is snow,
it is summer and it is winter.

The territory swells and stretches
towards a glowing silent infinite
that will loom ominously at night
like a screen in a movie theater.
The clouds are wavering shadows
that compose a lively mirage
of caravans circling the galaxy.

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Finger Lake (Eastern Sierra, California, 2008)

Middle Palisade, Eastern Sierra 2008

(Pictures)

As i rest like a castaway,
swallowed by the heavens,
on top of this hologram,
the blurry lens of my eye
yearns to teach the jutting
clouds how to swim. In vain
my silence threads beads
of light from the remote
lakes and knits the beaches
and the islands that one can
only discover if one trusts
that they exist. From the top
i can see both sides, not
confined to the one i climbed.
It's proof again, beyond
reason, that the void is full.

Ghosts of valleys, each
an aimless repetition
of the pattern i spun,
slice the bleeding horizon
infinitely. Thunder
choked with withered
winds heralds autumn.
Everything collides with
the impenetrable forest
of my memories. Propelled
to a higher orbit, to
a deeper root, my shadow
howls for a sign of life.

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Darwin Canyon (Eastern Sierra, California, 2008)

Evolution Region, Eastern Sierra 2008

(Pictures)

The last glimpses of sunset reflected by the snow patch
feel like the beam of a lighthouse searching for the shipwreck.
I am only an opaque mist of thoughts, thinking itself,
that descends the gully towards the enchanted basin;
enough to disenthrall myself from the spell of the lake
that maps geological eons with its veins, each moon-washed
waterdrop abducting the collective meaning and hinting
at other worlds in the absence of light and matter.
In the advancing darkness, trees and creeks fade in and out,
while hieroglyphs of galaxies hover high above my route.
We are all players of the universal game, actors of the same
comedy, happy endings of self-told stories, all entangled
in the same web. When we cross the border, our footprints
multiply and return until we tire of our tired selves.

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Mt Shasta from Mudcreek Canyon (Mt Shasta, California, 2008)

Mt Shasta 2008

(Pictures)

Waiting is a state of mind.

So many search for his hostile
presence. They expect him
to reveal himself; an endless
misunderstanding.

Like a bird flying
above the high cliffs
and playing a game
with its own shadow.

We would not recognize him
were we to see him.

This mountain is mostly
made of stone, not of
water.

We are incomplete,
and wildly
approximate.
We are containers
of images and sounds
who elicit them
from the surrounding
insentient nature.
Reality is anesthesia.

We are defined
by what we lack.
A hypothesis is not
a thesis.
There are questions
that we have to answer,
whether through satire,
mythology or biography.

If he were to arrive,
we would not exist
anymore.

A metaphor for myself:
a futile space in which
nothing happens.

He has always
been here.
Nothing
is.

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Golden Cascades (Bis Basin, 2009)

Big Basin 2009 (revised from 1998)

(Pictures)
I see myself in this tree,
that the mist cannot unseat,
my roots spreading in the soil,
my knotted limbs of timber
draped in shiny hollow leaves,
the rings of my trunk consumed
by light instead of grief,
dumb and deaf and color blind,
unaware of shapes and smells,
roaring blooms instead of words,
rusting bark instead of dreams,
wounded by the maze of vines below,
and whispering to the morbid rustle
like a voice rehearsing in a choir
rather than twitching like a fire,
my fate to be reborn every spring,
to outlive my name, my sin, my self,
to die of lightning or disease...
They will make books out of me,
but the writing will not be mine.

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The trail to Double Cone (Ventana Wilderness, California, 2009)

Double Cone, Ventana Wilderness 2009

(Pictures)

In the fog
the soul becomes
an intelligible world
of its own.
In the fog
the charred skeletons
of the trees
give new meaning
to our pilgrimage
to a place
that we didn't mean
to visit, nor
worship, but
just happened
to be the focus
of the convex
mirror that we are
traversing
as we search
for the sanctity
of a wordless
flower.

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A forest of burned Manzanita trees (Ventana Wilderness, California, 2009)

Ventana Wilderness 2009

(Pictures)

Eternity is a memory
that refuses to be
forgotten.

We are a noise
surrounded by silence;
and it's the silence
that truly defines
what we are;
the noise
that makes
no sound,
the you of this "i",
the we of this "they".

What links us all together
is the unity of all
imaginable spheres,
the harmony
of all contraries,
the transparence of layers,
the chimera of infinite
arbitrary boundaries,
the invisible thread
of all our deaths.

Time
is a song
for us
to sing,
each in
a different
key, until
we fully understand
what it is like
to be.

(We had agreed on a signal
in case we got lost:
i try to whistle it now,
hoping that we all are
lost already).

We are not
what we search for
but what we find.

Eternity is
the poetry
of amnesia.

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Wharf Rock (Elk, California, 2009)

Elk 2009

(Pictures)

Learning
the future,
not by
revisiting
the past,
but by
changing
the route.
Mining
the power
that is not
in us, but
surrounds
us,
and that thinks
us
by thinking
itself,
"intellectus
intelligens
intellectum",
or dreams us
as it dreams
itself...

Whether transfixed
by the immanence
of a peak
or the transience
of a creek,
you realize
how surrounding
nature strives
to bring about
the sufi's
annihilation
of the soul.
But, no,
we never
become part
of the whole.
The whole
and i are
neither one
nor none:
we are two,
multiples,
an infinite
twisted series
of mirror
reflections,
endlessly
thinking
each other
(the incoherence
of incoherence,
"tahafut
al tahafut"),
never
truly accepting
each other's
existence.

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Waterwheel Falls (California, 2007)

Waterwheel Falls, Yosemite 2009 (revised from 1998)

(Pictures)
On a day
of life immune to life,
ghostly as the unwanted weed,
I swooped the stately glare of the meadows
and the melting hieroglyphs of the clouds,
my body thrusted empty and lifeless
on a pyre of receding birds,
the lean stem and wet petals
cuddled by hoops of fairy breeze,
tide pools of yin fed to my heartbeat
(and faraway beaches too,
lost in the murky surf of time),
waiting for the blurred thoughts of the night
to take over the purified cavity of the mind,
swinging from moonbeam to moonbeam
until the flock reemerges from the smoke, deaf to the budding whimpers
that will inhabit the fabric of sunrise,
and balancing myself with a stick
on the relentless signs of the map
which can never truly match
the sunlit glory of the waterfalls.

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Mt Tyndall and the Williamson Bowl (California, 2009)

Mt Williamson, Eastern Sierra, 2009

(Pictures)

As we climb the slope already ravished
by dawn, the pulsing darkness exhaling
from the primeval womb of the planet
grants us a new birth at every step.
Only after having been can we begin
to undo our path and our thoughts.
We know where we want to go only after
we have been there. We are because we
were. We were because we shall be.
The cycle is unbroken as we climb higher,
away from the center, closer to the force.
Blinded by the sun that storms the summit,
we know we will never find our way back.
We know that our minds are trapped forever
in the destination, now that the destination
has become us and our journey has ended.
Dusk reminds us of the steep climb down,
of the uterus from which millions came
and millions more shall come after us,
to become part of us the way we became
part of it, to be united with the chimera.
We travel back because that is what we are.
We are not travelers: we are surrenderers.
Sunrise has all the answers. Sunset has
none. The gust at the top is the echo of all
the voices that have been here before. They
are still here with us, dead and alive,
fossils of untold stories, of unlived lives,
blood stains glued to the granite veins
of the mountain, amplified by the halo.
We are lost because we found them.
Silence has all the answers.

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Finale


I like
to travel.

I like
to explore.

I like
to live.

However, it does
tilt the balance:

is what i learn
far from here

worth

what i forget
about here?

P.S.
(Nature is a poet
that never uses
the word "I").

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More poetry by piero scaruffi | More photos by piero scaruffi