Five Points, Vol. 11 No. 3Fall 2007
From Karen Finley, “I think I realized my own version of the American Dream in that I am doing exactly what I wanted to do.”
Four Translations by Coleman Barks
Who is the king
that forms another king out of the ground,
who for the sake of two beggars
makes himself a beggar?
Who is this with his hand out
saying, Please, give just a little
as I can give you a kingdom.
He heals. He enlivens.
He tells the water to boil
and the steam to fade into air.
He makes this dying world eternal.
His greatest alchemy
is how he undoes the binding
that keeps love from breathing deep.
He loosens the chest.
With no tool he fashions where we live.
Do not grieve for your rusty, iron heart.
He will polish it to a steel mirror.
And as you are being lowered into the ground,
closed away from friends, don’t cry.
He turns the ants and the snakes
into beautiful new companions.
Every second he changes cruelty
to loyal friendship.
Remember the proverb, Eat the grapes.
Do not keep talking about the garden.
Eat the grapes.
From a rough stone ledge
come a hundred marble foundations.
Out of unconditioned emptiness
comes this planet with all its qualities.
Out of one huge NO
comes a chorus of yesses.
Rivers of light flow from human eyes,
and consider your ears, where language
alchemizes into amber.
He gives the soul a house,
then another and another.
He descends into dirt
and makes it majesty.
Be silent now,
say fewer and fewer praise poems.
Let yourself become living poetry.