What is the real
And what’s merely metaphor?
Everything is just a received signal
From something else, after all;
Olfactory, audible or visible.
Is the signal just a symbol
For something hard and unchangeable,
Imperceptible as itself, at best bridgeable
With words and conceits
Like a ghost that shows itself as a sheet?
Even the word metaphor is a metaphor.
I’m proud of you, my son is a metaphor
On call again, working a double shift again
Making good use of my talents and gifts
Not wasting a watt of energy
Grinning and bearing
Showing up on time
Having a nervous breakdown
Having a good cry
A bowl of vanilla ice cream,
June, summer evening, 1984, alone,
Watching the Celtics and Lakers.
These are all metaphors too
They don't have to be beautiful or clever.
Not even cute.
They only have to be true.
Maybe metaphor is just the real
Blossoming into beautiful
Which would be nice but, see above,
I just said it didn’t have to be.
Which is something I sometimes regret.
Metaphor shares a soul with the real.
This metaphor, that metaphor
Two sides of the same coin
Flipping interminably through the air
Without ever actually landing.
Yeah, no. Good try,
But that’s not for me.
What about this one:
A metaphor is when the real
Reveals itself as something
We already know to be true,
When it bursts into being
When it becomes me and you.
Now we’re getting in too deep
Trying to breathe in rarified air
A metaphor of non duality
Here’s one I kind of like:
Metaphors weave the new
Into a blanket of the already known
Like when two broken hearts
Inexplicably fall in love again
And huddle in its warmth
It’s nice, I'll admit, but not quite it.
One more attempt:
Metaphor is just the sound we make
When we want to hint
At all that cannot be said
If only we could
Keep our mouths shut
But we can’t keep
Our mouths shut.
This is the metaphor of silence
Which means, I think, we're
Finally starting to get close
Because metaphors never last,
Being of smoke and mirrors
Which are metaphors themselves.
A quiet empty church is a metaphor
A man hanging on a cross
Recitations with angels in the clouds
A covenant branded in the tips of penises
Metaphors of religion.
A religion, by the way, is a metaphor
For a good place to stop
Even though the road goes on and on
Mine is very simple
And requires no theology
No scripture no ritual
It isn’t really a religion
Barely even a metaphor at all
Let's call it an idiom
It goes like this:
We fall in love with the metaphors
And live with all that’s real