“No Tree,” “Saint Valentine,” and “Dead Heisenberg”

no tree
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No Tree

"No tree grows all the way to heaven,"

a darling end to a bible story

or Lenten play beginning

you might say;

a betrayal of trust

one way or another

in the power of God

to make anything beyond

what it is, whole, small or big,

seemingly nailed in place

and solid on the terrain.

"No tree grows all the way to heaven;"

Jung took off with this simple

everyman's bow to limitations

on human aspiration,

tagging this old saw

with his own Manichaean profundity.

"No tree grows all the way to heaven

unless its roots reach all the way to hell,"

which Jung borrowed, embroidered

and belted with layers of meaning,

turning a simple saying

to a metaphor of symmetry

to adorn, to address

the brutal best and worst in us,

a tree beyond Yggdrasil

with its wandering roots,

a tree rooted in the darkness of Hades

and blooming in the glades of heaven;

how sententious, how apt,

how symmetrical is that?

Is it well to strive upward?

Is it well to rive below?

Draw eternal damnation or bliss

down to the daily bread

of our lives, the sins of others,

the sins of us all,

seamy mud and blood,

skin of the teeth escapes

from mortal fall and disaster

or peeping from a cloud

of charity and grace,

turn the other cheek

for an infinite reward?

How many levels do we need?

How many stops on the way?

Dante's Commedia,

a trinitarian journey,

Goethe's Faust condenses

the same three realms;

heaven, man, earth,

the Dao's three-linked treasures.

Jung dreamt his house, went

through the portal of the dream,

landing on the top floor,

explores the rooms, the floors,

finding himself finally

opening that heavy door,

descending the cellar's stone stairs;

deep down he already knows

where and how it ends.

Down, down the stone stairs;

the cellar a vaulted room

ancient as Rome,

the floor stone slabs and

pulling a ring in a slab

open sesame and

narrow stone steps

leading down and

down he goes to a low cave

cut from the rock; layers of

dust, fragments of pottery,

wrecks of human skulls.

The dream ends there,

but we know what was below,

what was really

the dream's core

and so does he.

This final low cave holds

the roots of his tree,

the tree itself,

top to bottom,

in every sense in Jung's head,

a phantom, an ingenious fetch,

nothing more, nothing less;

the tree goes no deeper, no higher;

the tree goes nowhere.

We knew that before

and the rest of it as well;

the wages of sin,

the gages of lust and folly,

life, death, dust,

old empty rooms,

bones on the floor,

tenants long gone.

Let's get out of this,

this deathly place;

get out of here,

away from these worn images

of bounded levels,

petrified perished forms;

return above

to the simple holy air

of mother earth,

find those few lonely trees

we know are there;

those chosen trees

that grow and grow

from thin air, on their own,

rootless and unbound,

ascending like the angels

all the way to heaven.

Saint Valentine

Saint Valentine,

blind as a bat;

your eyeglasses

become you.

There's nothing to see

out there anyway,

no lovers brought

on the wind

from Dante's dark

and stormy hospice.

Stay where you are,

wherever you are

Saint Valentine

and do what you do.

Romeo and Juliet,

Romeo with his nose

where it shouldn't be

and Paolo and Francesca

sweaty flesh to flesh,

reading no more.

This sure ain't love

trading places

with eros

ladies and gents;

what is it?

We already know.

Write poetry to her

in the morning sun;

standing below

sing to her

on her balcony,

O sole mio,

over and over

in the starry night.

That's the way to do it;

put the work in

speed the plough

you swiving Lotharios.

Diddle diddle diddle

the tomcat has a fiddle

and puss has her pussy

purring in her lap;

after the moonlit serenade

get down to business

and with dawn's first light

on departing, the aubade.

Man with the Blue Guitar,

dude in the tight pants

your thoughts

lie south of the border

and far from fin amor.

The belly has friends

and they're hairy,

deaf and esurient

not to be pleased

or put off

by the spirit's

selfish inventive practice.

Keep pushing

Saint Valentine;

it will do no good.

Pigs at the trough.

But don't get me wrong;

we like the idea

of elegant and thoughtful love

celebrated sweet and fake

on that February day

when we hide our lust

from Saint Valentine

his cardiac cards covering

for the moment

our restless members

abiding in the dark

our cowering greedy

hardly ecclesiastical parts.

Dead Heisenberg

Could dead Heisenberg's

uncertain fylfooted ghost,

gaunt and luminous, forever

climbing now, descending now

the same old glowing bars,

the rows of stars

of near and far galaxies,

condemned to be someplace,

to be somewhere restrained,

could his shade still break the chains,

smash the rigid ruts,

the nuts and bolts

of unalterable order?

No cobwebby waves to contend with,

shaggy uncertain crests

lost in the depths

of uncertain histories,

ghostly mysteries;

no good fight against

orchestrated theories

and eminent authorities

scaring or scoring the universe

into static Newtonian order.

No need to unsteadily proceed

to some conclusion, some sum

of hidebound computations,

hard and fast calculations

chalked on a dusty blackboard;

the resolution is not there to be found

and Heisenberg knew it.

No matter where you go, said he,

zinging and slinging particles

or parts of digits

or quiddities of quarks,

bitten to the quick

by colossal forces,

zigging and zagging

somewhere, nowhere,

you are never only there;

every place is no place at all,

every oasis of certainty

dry as a bone,

barren as the moon,

searching, venturing

beyond worlds upon worlds

of time and place,

targeting the farthest wastes

with doubtful appearances.

Nevertheless and always

there is never any certain home,

never any place of rest,

never anything but uncertain restless pace.

A talented man, Heisenberg,

no doubt a genius,

an explorer in the realm of science

who at the wrong time

did protest just a little

and ended up in the frying pan;

a lucky chance in the black order,

pulled out by two mothers,

slapped on the wrist and

off he goes to an untidy

nuclear hesitation for the Reich,

a hesitation of uncertainly itself,

a form of action, of determination

and what about it? What do we know?

To this day we think we know

what we know is only his uncertainty;

a slow siege by the better angels

or the darker demons;

a slow siege leading to Gleichschaltung,

Heisenberg lock-stepping,

but somehow still out of step

and so it went and so he went.

Heisenberg works for this machine

grinding out equations

amidst the click of uncomprehending

Nazi boots and spurs;

his tiny cockle-burrs

merest particles winging on

to a new universal See,

a new unbounded race

to take us everywhere

and nowhere at once;

the looker looks

for no certainty, no set pattern

sees only gists and blurs;

does not believe his eyes,

cannot see the possibility

of the dust of centuries,

second by second,

rising up, getting out of hand,

getting away and getting in line

with the unsteady mazy dance

of heavenly angels of the new order,

of stars and atoms

tweaking out of orderly intent,

debasing solid design

with random mindful guile;

speeding on, breaking open

intangible time and tearing

the angels' symmetric wings

to feathery shreds;

they shed divine tears,

lost in a heaven of possibilities,

winking and blinking tears for nothing,

their lost wings still someplace

and someplace the whole shebang

speeds on, speeds on their wings

made whole again, speeds on

past Heisenberg in his classroom

teaching under the hooked cross

how things work outside the Reich.

We know what we know about him,

motioning to us in his wayward way,

is as uncertain as his motives,

skidding around as he does,

skipping fissioning stones

of neutrons

into glowing nuclei

with the skill of a busker

walking on stilts,

finding his certain way

through this unbelievable circus,

this unfocused universe

at sixes and sevens with itself;

a tapestry of deceit and

Heisenberg, steady as he goes

knows it and lived it.

About the Author

Jack D. Harvey

Jack D. Harvey’s poetry has appeared in Scrivener, The Comstock Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, The Write Launch, Typishly Literary Magazine, The Antioch Review, The Piedmont Poetry Journal and elsewhere. The author has been a Pushcart nominee and over the years has been published in a few anthologies.
The author has been writing poetry since he was sixteen and lives in a small town near Albany, New York. He is retired from doing whatever he was doing before he retired.
His book, Mark the Dwarf, is available on Kindle.