Poem Descending A Staircase Even As Duchamp Overlooked A Buddhist Notion

Paul Suttman (1933-1993) — “Braque Visited by the Conquering Venus Armed with the Apples of Discord” (bronze 1991) — Albuquerque Museum of Art — May 19, 1996 — photo by Mark Weber

POEM DESCENDING A STAIRCASE EVEN AS DUCHAMP OVERLOOKED A BUDDHIST NOTION

When is my life going to start?
they ask —

It started without you, it has gone
on while you were busy preparing
things, saving a bucket or two, running
around putting things in order, making
tidy all you think you’ll need on
that grand day when finally life
begins, finally the roar of it all
is merely an electric can opener,
merely the ping of sunlight off the
corona of the moon, hazy
and busy like fog on the day your
life begins, hobbling along on a
cane, saving it all, always making
ready the quiet stack of dishes, orderly
in the cupboard, such a grand day
maybe we should rotate the tires,
organize a food drive? have a donut
you’ll need the strength for when your
life starts, when your life looks back
at you through a see-through mirror
from that other place where it has been
running along without you.

—–mark weber
29nov12

8 Comments

  1. beautiful poem, mark, a thoughtful, soul-touching
    “sai-ku”… (sigh-coo)… love, joan

  2. Thank you for the poem, It feels good to my brain–but wild horses couldn’t make me throw away my rolling stones records.

  3. Mark:

    Please pardon me for saying this in such an unimaginative way, but this is: brilliant! wonderful! genius! I love it. Thank you so much.

    A lotus for you,

    Alex

  4. THREE THINGS

    1)
    . . . was just one of those things that arrived at 3am while reading something completely unrelated (correction: my bedside journal says it was written at 10:16pm) well, a lucky shot — while reading Owen Barfield’s HISTORY IN ENGLISH WORDS, a book I should have read in my 20s

    2) obviously, my title is riffing off of Paul Suttman’s great exploration of Cubist space — I chose Marcel Duchamp’s “Nude Descending a Staircase” (1912) to play with — Duchamp went on to become a philosopher concerning artistic endeavors, and it wasn’t so much that he “overlooked a Buddhist notion,” it’s that most European philosophers delve into zones that the Buddha understood centuries previous, and he was clearer and less of a windbag when pointing the way

    3) the Buddha was fearless, he ventured into realms of cognition that erased the chalkboard

  5. You’re a constant wonder that awakens my imagination.

  6. My father passed away on December 4 and I flew out to California for the funeral, and the preacher who presided over the service — Pastor Donald Shoff — quoted from John 10:10 “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” and segued into:

    “Fear not that your life will come to an end, but rather that it shall never have a beginning”

    which I subsequently found out is a Cardinal Newman saying

    — it surprised me how much it rings like my poem

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