Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Poem: "Today no one is your friend." Spinoza in housing court, Descartes, an infant

As I was scheduling a housing court appointment in December 2008, a messenger (a legal messenger, akin to a jazz messenger) in a sharp blue suit, smart, really smart, black, offered to represent me. His pro-bono client hadn't showed and he was training a new lawyer.

All of a sudden I had a team of lawyers, both gorgeous, the trainee from Africa. When we walked down the hall a few weeks later I felt like Madonna flanked by her people. Just when things were dicey, Sarah Sarai had herself an entourage of snappily dressed professionals.

A mother walked up and down with her baby while I waited in the wide corridor—111 Centre Street is a boxy and merely functional building. I pulled out my notebook.

My lawyer leaned over to ask me about my plans. Plans? I conjectured on the probable niceness of the opposition; he tried to toughen me up. The title? A direct quote.

“Today no one is your friend.”

Safe for the duration in a risen-cream snuggly
against his mother’s heat down and down
one peeling corridor. An inquiry

from my lawyer: “What’s your plan?”
Start here and end when informed in Blake’s
“autumn of the seraphs” or

by a distraction of friends buzzing
near a white light bright enough for interrogation,
though the only query from

family ashy in the scattered Pacific is
“Nice to see you, did you think you’d end up here?”
Some asking of

a convert from Descartes’ distinction of finite and
infinite (
I know that I am finite; therefore the infinite

(there’s me and there’s You); to the infinite miracle
of Spinoza, who saw perfection as rational
merely thought

to surpass human comprehension
. He polished lenses
every day, an endless impermanence, and was fully lit
with joy.

Sarah Sarai, published in Flâneur Foundry, Issue II, Spring/Summer 2010 (

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