Christopher Buckley

I’m Nothing
April 25, 2018 Buckley Christopher

I’m Nothing


close to a Zen scholar,
haven’t learned
to manage my blood pressure
as billionaires plunder
the planet selling-off
our remaining resources
and everything heads
to hell in a hand basket.
No matter if I poke
my walking stick
in the face of the sky,
or curse a blue streak
to the sea, its looks like
little’s going to change beyond
our planned obsolescence—
the Metaphysician as
Motor City CEO.
++++++++++++++++And though
I’ve read the Cliff Notes
on parallel universes
and Super Strings
they only explain
why things are always
in a knot, why everything
has to be done at least twice,
conclusions already reached
from years in academia.

I hurl my reproofs
at the pinpoints of light
and they come out to nothing
but pinpoints of light.
Moreover, if space bends
like a huge brioche,
as Einstein said, the theory
still doesn’t resolve
the elemental equation
of the dark?
++++++++++++So I nag the stars
with impunity regardless
of the fact that I don’t know
much more than I did to start.
What else can they do to me?
70 next.  No escaping
the results as it appears that
the only way to the proof
is through the EXIT—
like every one of the principals
at the end of Hamlet
strewn across the stage—
all the physics at work,
visibly and invisibly,
strategically opposed to
an extended stay
on this mortal coil.
My cat loves me—
about my age in cat years,
she doesn’t know
she’s going to die,
and I’m not telling her.
It’s hard to come by
cheerful company.

At least the clouds
are not dead yet and so
there’s still something for me
to work with despite no evidence
of metaphysical support.
I follow a few paper-white
cumulus frayed around the edges
as belief, same clouds that
have been circling the globe
since I first spied them
sashaying above the surf
at Miramar beach
where, as a boy, I knew
every rock and barnacle
bequeathed by the sea to me
and the creatures of the tide,
where I sang the salt
canticle of the air,
the slow days of riches
beneath the oversight
of eucalyptus and palm.

This afternoon, I sit in the shade
of our liquidambars—a skill
mastered in my advancing years—
remembering my grandparents
who valued such character-building
activities, who were, for as long as
I could remember, comfortable
as clouds, and who slipped off
up there somewhere one day
in my 20s when I wasn’t
paying attention.
In their memory,
in memory of the sky
that lets me breathe, I raise
a glass of Spanish wine—
a dark one from Zaragosa
I can just afford—
and run through
my usual objections, still
finding myself puzzled,
profane as ever,
about the full extent
of my unresolved,
unanchored place in time.


Christopher Buckley’s most recent book is One Sky to the Next, winner of the Longleaf Press Book Prize, 2023. He has recently edited: The Long Embrace: Contemporary Poets on the Long Poems of Philip Levine, Lynx House Press, 2020; and NAMING THE LOST: THE FRESNO POETS—Interviews & Essays, Stephen F. Austin State Univ. Press, 2021.