POETRY: With the World in my Blood Stream, by Thomas Merton

I lie on my hospital bed
Water runs inside the walls
And the musical machinery
All around overhead
Plays upon my metal system
My invented back bone
Lends to the universal tone
A flat impersonal song
All the planes in my mind
Sing to my worried blood
To my jet streams
I swim in the world’s genius
The spring’s plasm
I wonder who the hell I am.

The world’s machinery
Expands in the walls
Of the hot musical building
Made in maybe twenty-four
And my lost childhood remains
One of the city’s living cells
Thanks to this city
I am still living
But whose life lies here
And whose invented music sings?

All the freights in the night
Swing my dark technical bed
All around overhead
And wake the questions in my blood
My jet streams fly far above
But my low gash is no good
Here below earth and bone
Bleeding in a numbered bed
Though all my veins run
With Christ and with the stars’ plasm.


Ancestors and Indians
Zen Masters and Saints
Parade in the incredible hotel
And dark-eyed Negro mercy bends
And uncertain fibers of the will
Toward recovery and home.
What recovery and what Home?
I have no more sweet home
I doubt the bed here and the road there
And WKLO I most abhor
My head is rotten with the town’s song.

Here below stars and light
And the Chicago plane
Slides up the rainy straits of night
While in my maze I walk and sweat
Wandering in the low bone system
Or searching the impossible ceiling
For the question and the meaning
Till the machine rolls in again
I grow hungry for invented air
And for the technical community of men
For my lost Zen breathing
For the unmarried fancy
And the wild gift I made in those days
For all the compromising answers
All the gambles and blue rhythms
Of individual despair.

So the world’s logic runs
Up and down the doubting walls
While the frights and the planes
Swing my sleep out the window
All around, overhead
In doubt and technical heat
In oxygen and jet streams
In the world’s enormous space
And in man’s enormous want
Until the want itself is gone
Nameless bloodless and alone
The Cross comes and Eckhart’s scandal
The Holy Supper and the precise wrong
And the accurate little spark
In emptiness in the jet stream
Only the spark can understand
All that burns flies upward
Where the rainy jets have gone
A sign of needs and possible homes
An invented back bone
A dull song of oxygen
A lost spark in Eckhart’s Castle.
World’s plasm and world’s cell
I bleed myself awake and well

Only the spark is now true
Dancing in the empty room
All around overhead
While the frail body of Christ
Sweats in a technical bed
I am Christ’s lost cell
His childhood and desert age
His descent into hell.
Love without need and without name
Bleeds in the empty problem
And the spark without identity
Circles the empty ceiling.

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