Month: October 2021

Strange Birds

© Matthew Word Bain

clearly from out of town
these accidentals seek shelter
in a storefront window display
looking a little lost, it seems to me
finding themselves behind glass
surrounded by all that glitters
heads down, murmuring
beneath bright lights
under the gaze
of strangers

Star in a Low Sky

© Matthew Word Bain

one bright orb
encircled by another
its own sphere of influence
radiating light into the darkness
there is ambient light as well
but it lacks concentration

while its effect is only local
and it does not change the fact
that night has fallen all around us
this light, tiny though it may be
dispels the darkness for those
within its immediate proximity
a tiny node of light in a network
a concatenation of minor stars

I’m simplifying things, of course
for the sake of this metaphor
not examining the impact
of the literal light cast
by this streetlight
on the lives of insects
or the hormones of plants

my intention is not to be didactic
but rather to, well, shine a light
on how things look to me
from where I stand
so you can see
the same

Paradigmatic Portals

© Matthew Word Bain

with the proper portal
for light through a lens
I find I can see in the dark

overexposure in the daylight
becomes vision in the darkness

how remarkable to consider
the laws of nature accommodate
this sort of revelation by exploration
such that the result seems at first magical
and yet is only the result of new developments
in the way we have come to see how things work
and learned to work with them in order to achieve
our own particular ends

we might achieve new outcomes
but we have not yet changed the laws
that, I’m afraid, would require consensus
and consensus seems more and more elusive
as the numbers continue to rise

is it, though? is there a critical mass
a threshold beyond which things change
the sort of complexity in connections
materialists point to when they say
consciousness is a byproduct

would consensus allow us
to change the game physics?
or even just to let go of the binary
of all our traditional logical systems
and embrace something which by design
favors potentials unavailable to the Aristotelian?

What Are Shadows in Darkness?

© Matthew Word Bain

long shadows melt into darkness
the recurring presence of which
is all that enables this small sun
to shine in any noticeable way

what does darkness for us?
what is darkness anyway?
I refer to its presence
and yet darkness itself
is an absence of light
and still, it has a presence
one every child knows well

how does absence have a presence?
perhaps the how is beyond our reach
in the wake of great loss, however
this presence comes to be known

just as the loss of light that comes
with every sinking of the sun
plunging half the world
into the primordial absence
whose presence we know well
and which we ever endeavor
to mitigate for ourselves

if you’ve ever used a laptop
or a flashlight outside in full sun
I won’t have to explain to you
just how feeble is the light
we make to ward off the dark

what does darkness for us
if not allow us to shine?

Winged Scandal

© Matthew Word Bain

the glow of a streetlamp
lighting a stairway
below grade
rosy fingers
adds a little lift
to a winged sandal
here requisitioned for
the purpose of selling tires
if God is dead, what of the gods?


© Matthew Word Bain

tall thin branches scrape the sky
towering over the neighboring foliage
and a portion of the old church’s metallic roof
slowly camouflages itself against the brick

in this diffuse light, even the tall trees
are no more likely to cast a shadow
than the over eager street light
and yet both herald changes

as surely as the roof rusts
the glow of the beacon
speaks of the coming night

and the bare branches
winter’s reminder
that even high summer
will yield to the coming cold

while the brooding sky
portends the coming fall
I wait, impatient for change

In the Details

© Matthew Word Bain

the soft blur of the “toy lens”
rounds corners already rounded
channels focus to the center
as the edges darken

there is a certain grace present
when working with less precision –
knowing that the finest points
will be lost to the process
becomes an invitation
to focus on the whole

Oneiric Emergence

© Matthew Word Bain

unsure what to make of those eyes
are they more like the eyes
of a goat – or those of a spider?
I hang back at a distance
not wanting to make the first move

The Return of Pan

© Matthew Word Bain

progressive senescence in the silviculture
always leaving limbs lying on the lawn
moderated mainly by the mowers
placed in piles, now hefty heaps
this is what he has been waiting for
his presence always latent in the landscape
made manifest as order stumbles, as order always must
life emerges once more amidst the sterility of human management
and with this precious disorder come so many useful gifts
the presence of birds increases with available cover
an island of shelter encourages all manner of life
and these limbs, made from the very soil
on which they now lie, begin again
their own return within the cycle of life
otherwise interrupted by the strange need
for order, even at the expense of the cycle itself