And the Lord came down
to see the city and the tower,
which the children of men built.
And the Lord said,
Behold, the people are one,
and now nothing will be restrained
from them, which they have imagined to do.
The tower rises in the midst
of the destitute city, reaching
out in one solitary tendril stretch
to penetrate the heavens.
Like an infinite flower it builds,
striving forever for perfection
as a line struggles for the asymptote.
A river runs by the bright city,
its flowing surface reflecting
a million points of light.
Slime and trash shiver darkly
upon its pitted face–polluted
by the very lives its virile waters feed.
Deep from within the churning river,
where the glaring manufactured lights
cannot reach, where the corruption
cannot penetrate, comes the Voice.
The Voice speaks through movement:
in intangible whisperings of leaves,
in glistening cries of budding flowers,
in the incessant gurgling of the river.
The inhabitants, blinded by their
artificial lights, deafened by their
loud machines, can only hear the river
speaking at night as they lie
curled naked in their beds.
But even then the Voice is indistinct
and detached, and becomes
distorted into extremes.
Chaste and eager boys
with rapt eyes and ivory hands
grasp at the high notes in the Voice,
twisting their tongues
in pretentious articulation
and drool, dreaming of perfect worlds.
They write dry manifestos of idealism,
and march, singing fervent songs
of victory. Fill the void! they cry, aroused
by thoughts of fulfillment.
Fill the void! God is dead.
Seasoned and wrinkly women
with sagging breasts breathe in
moist whispers behind glass,
their stained faces pressed
together in dread, their tongues,
dried and withered, licking their
crucifixes in devout resignation.
They hear only the low notes.
It will fall, they murmur, excited
by masochistic thoughts,
It will fall, and He will return.
And always from outside the city gates–
if you listen closely, deeply, quietly–
moves the trembling notes of the Voice,
the stirring indifferent notes of the river Euphrates.
O beloved earth the river cries how I love thee how I adore thee how I love the mist that rises in thy morning’s breath and how the wind so delicately brushes back the hair of thy leaves and o how so true so true thou ist o earth thy sunrising heralds the fires of a new day and a new day glistens in the morning air and this and this is time slipping bubbling and frothing over into waves that tumble and race for infinity only to fall back only to rise again and again and again endlessly endlessly gurgling like a baby in innocent ecstasy.
And why dost thou strive so for climax?
And why dost thy wind and waves beat
steadily into the soft earth?
O nature, O conflict, O mother of humanity–
because thou must, thou must fight forever,
thou must–to become passive were to die.
The actual fulfillment is not the point,
no–that apocalyptic end of everything
leaving only emptiness–
one final, meaningless, apathetic
resolution where the world means nothing,
where you are nothing, where the tower
stands for nothing but as a reminder
of barren dreams and faded hopes.
It is rather the heat, the spark, the friction,
the continuous rhythm of brick upon brick,
the eternal beating of two restless hearts
melded together in a molding fire,
that keeps the fire burning.
Believe, believe in my mystery,
in my endless offering of hope.
Babylon the Great–
even in your abomination and filth
you have risen this tower.
Have faith in what once was,
now is not, and yet will come.
Perfection, destruction–love, hate–
stillness, movement–you are two and one,
melded together in a molding fire,
fighting forever, yin and yang.
So the tower stands like a phallus
without a head, rearing its
senseless shaft of creation, craving
enwrapping folds of consummation,
aching to penetrate the universe.
And in this lies the brutal splendor of life–
the whole ecstasy of it all
waiting patiently within that simple swelling
of emotions, that building friction
between two embattled worlds–
not within the hopeless burst,
the trembling, shuddering screams
of selfish pigs over slop.
The whole meaning of life
dwells humbly within
drops of anticipation
that dribble out of a word
or a look, or a touch.
The whole beauty of life is
that pulsating heart that pumps
heatedly, the fire thickening
as swollen tongues battle
endlessly for that perfect,
profound revelation of the universe
building up inside like a tower.