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"What Matters" was the first poem I had published, by the Toronto–based quarterly "Writual". It’s a poem I commonly read during my public appearances because of it’s theme of transcendence.
Like most of my poetry, it’s based on literal truth. I had just finished listening to an audio tape by Deepak Chopra and was sitting outside, burning a little fire and drinking coffee and listening to some electric Miles Davis and reflecting on what Chopra had been teaching. This is what came out:

what matters

sitting in a cool May evening,
feeding the fire, Miles
playing in the background heat -
a low sizzle -
trying to get a piece of it, an idea,
a whisper, just a glimpse

of something still
something molecular
subatomic particles, some quantum understanding
the single piece of matter that we are

a mattering
a mattering of matters

what matters – a funk meditation
a Miles soliliquoy of shaped sound
the very same molecules i exhaled
now moved in sound into each ear
drum – inhaling the music
this becomes flesh expelled again inhaled again

it matters science
it matters mysticism

the wood matter created a century ago
the matter of the oak seed from the ancient
one; the matter of the carbon and oxygen
and hydrogen; the matter of a star burning
itself out through the eons; the matter of
the tree absorbing these things and the
breath of the potawatomie and the logger
and hunters and farmers, lovers and rabbits
and squirrels and the dung of bear and the
song of the finch and the cardinal and the crow
all packed tight into the matter of the tree -
all released now in the smoke and heat as it’s history
is incinerated
in a matter of moments…

i don’t understand just a bit of it
a whisper, just a glimpse

what matters is mattering
what matters is mattering

the human body replaces itself
each molecule every two years
each molecule shed, excreted, exhaled,
eliminated & then replaced, eaten, inhaled
drank, soaked up – these molecules are
never destroyed, only transformed,
recycled, redeemed, in new matter;
the same molecules breathed by adam & eve;
jacob and joshua; caesar and cleopatra;
moses and jesus and mohammed and buddha
and miles and monk and kurosawa and every poet human
breathing blade of grass and your grandmother’s
grandmother’s grandmother
in another time, land,
lifetime, but the mattering is the same.

what matters is we are the same
what matters is we are all the same matter
what matters is we are all the same matter dreaming that
we are not

what matters is mattering.
(a whisper, just a glimpse…)

mike stratton
may 21, 1998