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The Floating Upanishad

“Who knows the truth? Who can tell whence and how arose this universe? The gods are later than its beginning: who knows therefore whence came this creation? Only that god who sees in highest heaven: only he knows whence came the universe, and whether it was made or uncreated. He only knows, or perhaps he knows not.”

Rig Veda X: 129, translated by Juan Mascaró, The Upanishads

“Dante would have called it an awakening, not a dream.”

E.M. Forster, Maurice

uncoupled from gravity
unheavier than air
untouching surfaces

only as memory
or premonition

not really still here
not really quite gone
even the dead

have abandoned
where you think you might find them

calling this a place
those who will one day be living
have yet to imagine

would be like trying to put a frame
around the nothing
and calling it something calling it somewhere

who could say for sure
this is
or is not

there is a here but where
cartography has been forgotten
or is still to be invented

there is a now but when
there are no timepieces left
and no time for that matter

whatever that was
is gone
or not yet begun

but there is something

as far back
as before the beginning

as far forward
as after the end


a consciousness
that observes
that is

something for which
being neither dead nor alive
is neither here not there nor elsewhere

an awareness
that goes
on and on

something waiting
like the potential in a foetus for birth
like the potential in the infirm for death

and yet more than
just watching
something wanting

for even in this
not nothing
there is something

in the something

the seed of desire
that always
begins it all

the something is wanting
and in that instant
something else

must be wanted
and in that instant

the separation
that starts time
and imagines space

the initiating action
in the perennial journey
of desire

the desire
to reach away from aloneness
creates an other to reach out towards

and the satisfaction
of that first desire
seeds more desire

the desire to communicate
turns breath
into language

and with that
the desire
for the endless vistas of words

an unquenchable desire
for words
to be carried on the thoughts

to identify to describe to classify
to categorise to catalogue to inventory
to index to tabulate to register

to record
an uncountable
number in the mathematics of the taxonomy of things

aggravating the already
maddened by
an escalating addiction

to the narcotics of memory
and anticipation
desire for more desire

the desire for more
in every moment
more more more

the greedy accumulation
of innumerable
tiny details

so much more
than future archaeologists
will be able to dig up

and as yet unconceived linguists
or cryptographers

until eventually
after so many attempts
and so many disappointments

it is such a weary
and tempered desire
a desire

that sees the end of desire
even before it has fully begun
a desire finally to cease desire

to lose
more than it creates
the desire for death

as much as for life
there is something

so much something
so much something
in the something

watching the something
a consciousness
an awareness

so long as you are
from this awareness
and of this awareness

the awareness
will survive in you
and you in it

you will endure
needing nothing
being everything

even as time winds up
and unwinds
its inevitability

the awareness is
everything is
of it

Richard James Allen is an Australian born poet whose writing has appeared widely in journals, anthologies, and online.  Former Artistic Director of the Poets Union, Inc., he has written nine books of poetry, edited a national anthology, and combined a unique international career as a multi-award-winning writer, director, choreographer, and performer for stage and screen.