A Glitch in the Matrix: A Poem
On the sixth day we, a glitch in the matrix,
attempted the summit again
and summited, cresting to heights
never-before-seen by mortal men
(or so I thought
In the afternoon, lit by the golden glow of the sun
at twenty-thousand feet, we began to
and it was as if
perhaps we were gods
making the trek from heaven down to below
or mortals on a katabasis,
the only one we could know.
That night, I had a vision of a place
of tangled vines and dense jungle
and a cave. A creature
with pinpoint red eyes
came out of the darkness
and asked me my name. I could not
(speak) he said. He led me from darkness
into light, the light of the jungle,
and the insects buzzed around our heads. I
slapped at them
but he swatted my hands down
and told me there were things worse than disease
and one of them was bad karma.
I did not know karma. But
when I blinked I heard the roar of the sea.
The monkey ghost was gone. All he had been —
Like you. Like me. A glitch in the matrix,
meant to be. A stitch in the fabric of time.
A wish. A consideration. I went
to the edge of the sea
and stooped and wet my hands
and my cheeks
and tasted the salty water on my lips
and watched the little crabs make
across the littoral waste.
I woke in a helicopter
at twenty-five thousand feet. You
had tears on your face. I was strapped down. I
could not move. I waited for you to free me. You
didn’t free me. You only pressed your head
to my chest and wept
on and on
In large part, this poem is a response to a film I watched recently, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. The film is an art-drama film created by a Thai director as the final piece in an art installation based around “memories, transformation, and extinction.”
It was a critically acclaimed film. I can’t say I got all that much from it, except that it made me think. And I mean a whole lot. I thought about it more than almost any other film I’ve ever watched, mostly because I didn’t understand it at all. I’m sure I would’ve understood it better if I had a deep knowledge of Thai and Buddhist folklore, but that’s a bit of a big ask for the average audience member. All the same, I can’t call it a bad film in any sense of the word, since it made me think so deeply. If you’re someone who likes films that make you think, you’ll want to give it a watch. It might be the slowest watch you’ll ever sit through, but give it a try. Here’s a link.
Anyway, my poem is much more straightforward than that film (I hope) but it may still seem a little out there compared to some of the other poetry I’ve written. If you enjoyed it, you’ll probably also enjoy my longer poem “Quartet.”
Thank you for reading!
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“Song for the Gallows,” a very short poem about crime and punishment.
“Like Butterflies,” a short philosophical poem exploring life and human mortality through a universal perspective.
“O Drums,” a lyrical poem in the form of a mantra featuring repetition and a message about love, self-reliance, and resilience.
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