What’s Best About True Greatness Is How Fragile It Is

Photograph by Jose Padua
Strings tuned just right, they can break apart.
What keeps the notes together, the words opposing,
confronting, complementing, informing one another
is this. It’s not just scale or grammar, score or page.
There is no logic to bind the pieces together. Harmony
is a thing of the spirit; it is cool breeze and hurricane,
poetry is sound alternating with silence—sometimes
you know what’s happening; sometimes you’re the old
soldier who doesn’t know the war he was fighting
is over and another one has taken its place even bloodier
than the last. White doves fly through dark air; black birds
gather over the old marble monument. The wise man has
no home, no pockets without holes, holes that offer no exit,
no ghost in the machine, no light at the end of the subway
tunnel, no time to take requests, just more train to ride,
more track to walk. What’s great doesn’t know it’s great,
feels like it’s about to fall for the last time down the slope,
or simply trip over shadows so sharp they can cut darkness
into lesser shades, earth into slices for academic studies,
and other substitutes for sleep. This is what’s beautiful,
essential, mystical, magic; there is no magic, no mystery,
no man. When light is bent by gravity those who cannot laugh
are doomed. The rest of us stop breathing; we catch our breath,
look up and down, leeward and windward. We crack ourselves up.

-Jose Padua

Photograph by Jose Padua


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