That the mind isn’t guided by the punished shade

Photo by ChodHound

Dust in its emoting.
Adjust this crumb.

This numbness. Leaving us
to blank.

Spots on the surface. A dampness
somewhere nears us to sleep.

We walk on another kind
of nest for the body.

Swept up—pale
feathers, a bucket, bones.

Click here to read Tony Mancus on the origin of the poem.

Photo “Dust” by Adrian Scottow; licensed under CC BY 2.0

Tony Mancus:
Ok, so honestly, I have no real recollection of composing this poem. I might have stolen it entirely. Though likely the first iteration was something that I typed while I should have been doing something else, which might explain my lack of conscious attachment to it, or it could just be that my memory is terrible (likely both).


In any case, it became part of a larger group of poems and prose-like pieces that now all have song lyrics for titles. I don’t know if that will lead to trouble, but the title here is from a song by De La Soul, “I am I be” from the album Buhloone Mindstate. Here’s the full lyric: It’s just mind over matter | and what matters is | that the mind isn’t guided by the punished shade. When I first heard this I thought it was something about the mind being (or not being) guided by the Upanishads. Not sure what that tells you, but I really do like productive mishearings.

I think I was trying to work my way through the notion of the blue marble and the dust mote in the first half of the poem. There was a composition textbook – Seeing and Writing – that I used to teach from and it had that image from Voyager and some text by Carl Sagan, The Pale Blue Dot, where he draws our attention to how small our world is in the bigger picture. I keep trying to grapple with that and what allots for comfort in the face of our “mortal struggle,” which sounds a lot more fancy and depressing than I think I mean it.

I mean, dust can’t emote, right? Or can it? And what about crumbs – they’re like fish, they don’t feel numb. But maybe we’re that, too. Or maybe our heads are just crimped by all of this input and eventually something will come round to sweep up after us.



Tony Mancus
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