April 2022

On Feeling

© Matthew Word Bain

such stark lines
suggesting someone
with something to say

this tree, literally
& figuratively
beyond the pale
what is its message?
can you feel it?

can you
locate subjective
awareness within its
lived experience?
how does it feel
to be this tree, now?
three years ago?
what caused its death?
did it suffer? is it suffering?
is any part of this tree still alive?

living beings fill the world around us
inhabiting their multivarious physical forms
navigating life by interpreting sensory information
which is to say, feeling
we think of them as less than us
for their want of a cranium like our own

and yet what has driven us to the brink of extinction
if not for our way of thinking without feeling
caught up in emotions and ignorant
of the sensation in our bodies
afraid of it, perhaps, this feeling
while all the time it is there
available to us – that lower intelligence
without which our higher intelligence is pure farce

Visible Time

© Matthew Word Bain

look at how the road rides high
which came first, I wonder
would an architect
have designed this building
to inhabit this location in this way?

perhaps my perspective is skewed by time
having received a way of seeing things
that was born after this building
was ever conceived of
so that my perception is unwittingly
anachronistic, and just because I imagine the world
always was the way it has been
in my experience
this does not make it so
and my perception and I stand
to benefit from my coming to terms
with the influence of my received opinion
on my own process of understanding
how things came to be this way

and yet, from my years of observations
of the way things are and the way things were
and the way things change over time
I am confident the siting
of this building
adjacent to this road
is a result of road widening
more than an architect’s decision
because roads have a tendency to widen
and buildings have a tendency to stay in place
until the uneasy tension between them
results in the displacement
of one or the other

Getting to Know You

© Matthew Word Bain

a row of faces
the inevitable archetype
repeating in glass, brick, metal
watching the world go by
what do they see?
more importantly, to me
how do they feel?

Can’t Keep Out

© Matthew Word Bain

behind this fence
a playground off limits
the yard of a short line railroad
complete with lonely passenger cars…
when, if ever, do these cars carry people?
does the Buckingham Branch Railroad
use them only for private functions?
I travel through this yard by foot
in my inexorable imagination
where every door is open to me
and these cars an invitation to ride
at a leisurely pace with friendly people
verdant lands and tranquil waters on view
through clear windows while those inimitable
sounds of sibilant rhythms intrinsic to rail travel
rise through the swaying floor, pervading space
inviting sleep, accompanying conversations
while the landscape alone is enough
to occupy my traveling mind

Liminal Light

© Matthew Word Bain

the dimming rays of the sun’s departure
limn the high point of the house
with the glow of embers
beneath a lingering
pale blue sky
before grey dusk
and the vault of stars
restrict light’s brilliance
to the tiny apertures
of ancient suns
in a vacuum
the twinkling eyes
of Nyx, born of Chaos
her night, generative
made of possibility
as only darkness
can give rise
to light

The Blue Planet

© Matthew Word Bain

a strange palette of greens and blues
an amalgamation of outcomes
stemming from different decisions
made at different times by different people
in different places for different reasons
and yet, a strange coherence has emerged
as these uncoordinated outcomes
have occupied one place
united in elemental experience
sun, wind, rain, earth
and Place, the quintessence
long ago this was the birth of culture
the confluence of people in a place, over time
we have moved beyond all that now, though, of course
no longer subject to such elemental constraints
we could even move to another planet
in case we get tired of this one

Masonry Versus Carpentry

© Matthew Word Bain

why two methods, I wonder
were they on their way to blocking
the window covered in plywood
before the situation changed?
that plywood isn’t ancient
but neither is it fresh…
the place looks nothing like
an active construction site
but rather an abandoned
project in a vacant building

Rite of Way

passage to another world, another time
a world in which the building
in whose footprint
I stand
still itself stands

© Matthew Word Bain

from one absent building
to another, empty and vacant
or, perhaps, the other way around
from one unoccupied space
to a building no longer extant
such a dangerous passage
the portal must be
not merely boarded up
but secured with masonry

© Matthew Word Bain

you and I, though
need not halt our journey
on account of the merely material
we know how to walk through walls
we are able to travel through time
we have the intelligence of our bodies
to reveal to us the past in the here and now
and to glimpse and even inhabit possible futures