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Sample Poems by Steven Wingate


1 Octet in Praise of Earth's Perfume

The smell of earth is on my mind today, perhaps because I am outside now and can smell its wetness, perhaps because the phrase "the smell of earth" grabbed me with its sexy iambs, and I have become retroactively interested in what this luscious phrase signifies.

The smell of earth is like a tonic. Go a few days without it, and you will see. Suddenly you'll be passing by some farmer, or some animal that has just dug in the dirt, or some child who has just rolled laughing down a hill, and your nostrils will open to the essence of that divine odor.

The smell of earth, if you meditate on it long enough, obliterates all your problems. I just tried it, and it worked for a while. If I try harder, will it work for longer?

The smell of earth should be the centerpiece of some religion, and I should be its founder. Practitioners could meditate on the smell of earth and inhale the secrets shared by all its previous prophets: Isis, Met, Toth, Apollo, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, Krishna, etc. At last, a unifying religion! And--quite literally--right under our feet.

Under our noses too, when we prostrate ourselves to worship the divine, pungent soil.

"The smell of earth religion" is a rather cumbersome name, and one that invites ridicule. But I have no better name for it; the founders of religions rarely do. It cannot be named after me, since I do not qualify as a god or prophet despite my best intentions and my constant striving for beauty, wealth, and slimness. And it's usually up to the followers to name the religion, isn't it? . . . Okay, I've reconsidered. You may name this religion after me, but only once I have died. If you come up with a great name before then, please call me at 1-800-SML-ERTH.

"The smell of earth" is rumored to be the final phrase uttered by such luminaries as King Frederick the Great of Prussia, Janis Joplin, Queen Nefertiti, and Warren G. Harding. I shall therefore recognize them as prophets of my new religion, and thus worthy of salvation. I shall not, however, go so far as to acknowledge the work they did to formulate this religion before I came along--work I discovered in secret libraries belonging to the late Shah of Iran, which I destroyed after copying them in my own hand.

The smell of earth has healed millions of near-dead animals that sought its solace and were returned to life, and eased the passage of millions more who died in its loamy embrace and successfully passed into eternity. Think about it: animals seek out the

earth when they die, do they not? Why should we not seek it out while we live?

The smell of earth suffuses. This is our mantra; repeat it after me. The smell of earth (inhale) suffuses (exhale, pause). The smell of earth... suffuses.... The smell of earth...


2

Octet Designed to Calm Us Both Down

Breath in, breath out. It's that elemental, and with each breath come words cascading, words twirling around one another while their intentions become even more muddled than human will can make them.

Breath in, breath out. Note that I'm not saying breathe here. I'm thinking of breath not as a willed activity, but as something that happens to you, that comes in and goes out of its own accord. Something that has a mind of its own and an agenda for you that you cannot possibly understand.

Breath in, breath out. And you don't need esoteric religions to do it right.

Breath in, breath out. Because it's what snakes do, and squirrels, and marmots, and aardvarks, and hyenas, and wolverines. Breath invites itself inside them, suffuses them with Atman a.k.a. Prana a.k.a. the Holy Spirit, then smiles and floats away to seek another recipient.

Breath in, breath out, and don't think about breath's agenda because you aren't meant to understand it. You are meant to live it, nothing more.

Breath in, breath out, though sometimes hints of that agenda will come to you, because the agenda is imprinted whole upon each breath, and you can occasionally digest portions of it with your imagination. The true sage, however, knows to only live the agenda and not interview it to death, not gouge its skin for the wisdom sealed beneath.

Breath in, breath out, though you shouldn't assume from the previous stanza that I think I'm a true sage myself. I interview breath's agenda like the CIA. I stick a microphone in its face with one hand and take paparazzi candids with the other. I am among the worst offenders.

Breath in, breath out. If you truly understand this now, you may put my book down, for you have now stolen all its treasures. But I might be lying to you. There might be more treasures hidden beneath this pile of words. So read on, or risk watching what you seek slip away.