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  • Writer's pictureMr. B

Metaphysical Materialism...

What does modern spirituality look like? In this, the third entry of his second season, Mr. B moves beyond modern society's censorship of open and public discussion of spiritual questions to consider what it might actually look like, today, to walk a truly spiritual path. This question is important -- within it lies the potential to unlock our own capacities as individuals and, also, the capacities of society as a whole for genuine progress -- a question that Mr. B does his best to struggle through in this segment of "Mr. B's Diaries..." 

Craig Arnold: "Meditation on a Grapefruit"...

"To wake when all is possible

before the agitations of the day

have gripped you

` To come to the kitchen

and peel a little basketball

for breakfast

To tear the husk

like cotton padding a cloud of oil

misting out of its pinprick pores

clean and sharp as pepper

To ease

each pale pink section out of its case

so carefully without breaking

a single pearly cell

To slide each piece

into a cold blue china bowl

the juice pooling until the whole

fruit is divided from its skin

and only then to eat

so sweet

a discipline

precisely pointless a devout

involvement of the hands and senses

a pause a little emptiness

each year harder to live within

each year harder to live without"

... and, now, two more poems that also capture "metaphysical materialism," the modern path toward reunion with our inmost natures as spiritual beings ...

Mary Oliver: "White Owl Flies Into And Out Of The Field"...

"Coming down out of the freezing sky

with its depths of light,

like an angel, or a Buddha with wings,

it was beautiful, and accurate,

striking the snow and whatever was there

with a force that left the imprint

of the tips of its wings -- five feet apart --

and the grabbing thrust of its feet,

and the indentation of what had been running

through the white valleys of the snow --

and then it rose, gracefully,

and flew back to the frozen marshes

to lurk there, like a little lighthouse,

in the blue shadows --

so I thought:

maybe death isn't darkness, after all,

but so much light wrapping itself around us --

as soft as feathers --

that we are instantly weary of looking, and looking,

and shut our eyes, not without amazement,

and let ourselves be carried,

as through the translucence of mica,

to the river that is without the least dapple or shadow,

that is nothing but light -- scalding, aortal light --

in which we are washed and washed

out of our bones."

Christian Wiman: "My Stop is Grand"...

"I have no illusion

some fusion

of force and form

will save me,


of bonelight

engrave me

as when the El

shooting through a hell

of ratty alleys

where nothing thrives

but soot

and the ratlike lives

that have learned to eat it

screechingly peacocked

a grace of sparks

so far out and above

the fast curve that jostled

and fastened us

into a single shock of --

I will not call it love

but at least some brief

and no doubt illusionary belief

that in one surge of brain

we were all seeing

one thing:

a lone unearthed loveliness

struck from an iron pain.

Already it was gone.

Already it was bone,

the gray sky

and the encroaching skyline

pecked so clean

by raptor night

I shuddered at the cold gleam

we hurtled toward

like some insentient herd

plunging underground at Clark

and Division.

And yet all that day

I had a kind of vision

that's never gone completely away

of immense clear-paned towers

and endlessly expendable hours

through which I walked

teeming human streets,

filled with a shine

that was most intimately me

and not mine."

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