The Deronda Review

a journal of poetry and thought

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GUT CHECK *

* ["gut" as in looking inward and GUT as in the scientific
notation for "Grand Unified Theory," the attempt to explain
creation and its aftermath by means of the laws of physics]


We crumple the cellophane wrapper
of a plump egg sandwich,
savor a raspberry scone,
steam a grande latte,
string ourselves along in cosmo workshops
quarking the electron voltage
and claim it's too cold for the truth
We fuss over the Cru,
upgrade our headsets, run the TiVo,
buy a Porsche SUV,
find a mechanic or a chemist
for a turbocharge or lube,
get some work done,
have a biotech consult,
grind thousand-hour days
staring at the plasma,
stabbing at equations,
dying to live forever
and while we're at it to prove the truth
We're bright enough to know the truth,
mutant bacteria with smarts
to figure its history from a microwave
Synapses conspire, sparks jump the gap,
and we already know:
on the honking freeways
in our white-noise subdivisions,
amidst the jack-smashing of construction to construction
and the whining of the poor and the defeated,
above the clatter of the engines thrashing high tech grain
in corporate fields
and the chatter of white men talking
while we wonder at the pretty ties and patent leather lies
of the power dancers
We already know that the truth:
is in a gap
that a trillion trillion volts won't bridge
and the most elegant knots and loops
of the brainiest chalkboard scribblings
and trickiest combinations of ones and zeros
won't explain, can't explain,
why the Beginning and the End are One
We soothe ourselves,
toes wriggling in warm sand,
the sun's rays and crashing of the sea
like a tranq that blankets our crank-skanked skin
Yet we know
Pills kill the itch
Thrills fill the ditch,
the depression in our souls
we travel over and alongside
but can't seem to get around;
clawing into niches, curling into crevasses
until we and the rock are One
And still we know
The End and the Beginning are One
The gap is not a void

ii

We are less afraid, aren't we,
of the monsters in our bedrooms
than the truth
of the werewolves in our cities
ripping with teeth and claws,
leaping upon us from behind sidewalk trees
than the truth
of the cadavers in our courtrooms
and pod people in our supermarkets
than the truth
of the aliens under study
in Area 51
than the truth
We fear the gap,
fear the truth (that we already know)
which is the end of our fears,
which gives the power to send
the monsters and werewolves,
the cadavers, pod people, and aliens,
and their extended family of deadly dreaded cousins
back where they came from

iii

The journey to the end of time
and the journey within are the same journey
ending in the same place -- home
Particle tracings are not a map home
If we would only turn our heads
from the screen's green tracings
we could do a gut check
In the gut check is
the knowledge that we are already home
and there, there at home,
there in the gap,
is not an explanation but is His Moment
then, now, and always,
before He exploded the makings
of star stuff into existence
Our home is His home
Our key fits the lock, of course;
it is the key to our home, after all;
we can turn it any time,
open the door, go inside
and punch out, for there is no more work to do
We know the truth, but will we face the music?
Will we forever line dance in frantic separate spaces,
point and spin to the sharp-stick-in-your-eye rhymes
of angry hip-hop hustlers,
sweat solo in ecstacy on air-guitar trips
to faraway electric notelands?
Or will we dance together cheek to cheek
to the moonglow doo-wop harmony of
His Kingdom's joyous song
at Home where the view across the horizon is serene
and the Departure and the Arrival are One

Richard Ross

from the Current issue of The Deronda Review


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