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From The Source

The story is essentially the same: if you are intent on your climb and would never consider cutting back, then balance the sphere of ordinary understanding not in any mere figure of speech, still bent over the shoes you’re mending, but in actual fact loosened from its anchorage to the body. The most decisive adherence to the Source is a mere mechanical routine of carrying out abstract rules, a school bus painted with drab colors, tumbling as a fertility rite, the elevator door silently opening. As is the usual case with the cup of the flower to the bee when he sips, this correspondence is not inexhaustible, countering and cross-countering in serious conversations each extraordinary depth among the dumb thoughts clogging your feet.



Wealth has no history but that of haunting a prophetic lament on the eve of another great war, perhaps for the first time, perhaps for the second or third time, arisen to challenge the preeminence of the Source. I never entertain expatriate notions, nor make the kind of promise that sinister bridegrooms do in folktales. There is but literal Latin in my maw.

Are the sentences whole or fractured, and if the latter, on purpose or …

If there is no place for hatred in the relativistic universe of the Source, then can its conceptual and ideological revolution include the passion and excitement of one declared ‘fully usable’ and fit for infantry service? Siege accounts can be told by others. They’re always indicated by ellipses, the elaboration of a fanciful wish rather than the analysis of a social reality.



Always these dreams of water, dirty, clear, deep blue—a part of the totality of impressions that makes the Source, as though through glass, through trees, through interweaving layers of atmosphere, into whatever lies beyond the sky. However modified, this view can never completely disappear. Reduced to using brute physical force, disengaged, disembroiled, disencumbered, exempt from conditions we usually know attached to it, the drift of common person to the position of hero extends logically from the nature of the pluralistic and processive world that the Source supports.


Visit, and you will always come away feeling that it has made up in the most genuine way the many things you need: 

the sound of gravel crunching 
in the driveway; a roll of 

drums; hibiscus and blackbirds; a real egg 
under the hen, now dead from panic; a swamp 

of cranberries and hardhack making 
a shortcut to the railroad station.



Is this how a link of the Source’s chain is broken by the vehemence of loving contrition? Who calls its spirit the handmaid of holiness? Who says that no matter how elaborate the design, certain simplifying assumptions must always be made? The Source will never be a pretext for settling old scores; never be saddled with maintaining a reductive form of consciousness; never follow any prescriptions save its own, which are exactly the justifications and explanations we give of our language and conduct. Bearing the body of the deceased to its place of burial is still the intimacy of two antagonists at work.



Within the Source’s orbit, which is far from the concern of moralists and theologians, our evolutionary heritage never reaches its apogee. It’s always been the simple business of chemical efficiency to shake off any system abutting another’s nakedness, an indication of the presence of magnetic forces, at once graphic and linear. Other models have long complained about the scarcity of their kind. A burly man with a raspy voice and extraordinarily arched brows reveals to us how the whole world of torment is necessary as a defense of morality. Does the Source exist independently of us, out there in the ether, waiting to be discovered between a real warning and mere words? or is our independence merely the siren from which it sounds?



Getting in contact with the earth itself, indulging in orgies of violence and persecution, openly revealing yourself as an enemy, or developing a new ethical theory fully in the public domain, one endures orders as one does punishment; all education is training in obedience—a tiny frontage on the factory of the Source. What great queen would exile herself in masculine courage, chatting quietly as the actors and crew go about their work? In the end, character always rules. 

The organized industrious adulation of the Source leads to its own undermining, a distinction between killing and allowing to die, which are just two different names for a single, everpresent state of awareness—the storage space for every stray item in your house. A tame wolf cub, normally kept outside, wanders into the kitchen. What arises in its demands and possibilities out of the appearing of things but a point that doesn’t need you to make it. 

What I’m really saying is a pianist conscious of his fingers during a furious set should immediately stop playing. 

Noah Eli Gordon teaches in the MFA program at the University of Colorado-Boulder, and is the author of The Source, from Futurepoem Books. Other excerpts from it can be found in New American Writing, Shadowbox, Aufgabe, Black Warrior Review, and Denver Quarterly.