Two Freudian Dreams

I’m in a house that’s standing upside-down,
its shingled roof wedged weirdly in the ground.
I’ve seen this house on many other nights.
My love is there. We’re in some kind of fight.
I lose myself, I’m dizzy, my eyes fail —
then, when I’m finally returned to sight,
despair descends on me; I see his chest
blooming blood, his face pale, glazed with sweat—
in silent horror I behold my hand
still wrapped around the hilt & understand
with my own narrow, ruthless, phallic sword,
I’ve slain the one I most deeply adored.

I’m in a windowless, uncanny room.
My back is to the door. I am a child.
A wizened wise man, bright despite old age,
is staring silently into my eyes.
Now, I’m inexplicably aware
of some impending doom. I’m very scared.
Something is coming, something I can’t fight—
the door has been demolished! In its place
I see the pallid, terrifying face
of a young woman I somehow know is dead
but not dead—resurrected? Then, her head
deforms, her monstrous jaw unhinges, &
her throat, wet, pink & palpitating,
hears me scream before I jolt
awake!

Taboo

I think the purpose of taboo
is sort of as a last resort:
When people cut their love lives short
& isolation walls them off,
like a collective urge to cough,
taboos are broken, & people open
up to the nakedest of things—
love, which is why the caged bird sings.

poem for Socrates

Jacques-Louis David

If words transcended time I’d say
thanks, Socrates, for still today
you set a golden standard & example,
stand in sanity when truth is trampled,
immortalize humor,
lead leaders to love being wise
& remind me there are always times to fly by
the seat of your conscience.

poem for Ayn Rand

When Reason, man’s most perfect power,
is exiled from the Ivory Tower,
you stand outside as fearless proof
of its unconquerable truth.

While institutionalized minds
grow coddled, sheltered & unwise,
you teach bright people to be free
& draw their strength from liberty.

You set the tone, you set the stage
for freethinkers of every age:
You brought, with your life’s burning blaze,
the truth to light, where now it stays.

Questions for Professors

Can one profess an intellectual profession
without a solemnly professed
commitment to upholding truth?
To understanding?
To questioning, above all?
How did this vicious
thirst for power force its way
into our sacred halls of learning?
With what does one rebuild the walls?

“Give me liberty or give me death,”
a great man, long dead, once said.

Advice for readers

Vacations taking nothing but your mind
exist in inexhaustible supply,
so never settle. Set your standards high.
Great writing takes you fast ahead, and far;
Bad drags you back, or leaves you where you are.

Great writers help their readers come away
equipped not just for tasks, but for the day:
Aware that facts can fail when given straight,
they aim to bring you face to face with fate,
with conscience, with desire, with suffering—
the greatest writers don’t communicate
so much as they illumine the innate.

So, don’t eat food for thought that’s bland or dry
or feed cheap candy into your mind’s eye:
Demand that we, your writers, satisfy.

Reflection on Oedipus

Oedipus was not superior in wit or intellect
to any other man in his class.
However, he was wise enough to defeat
the Sphinx at her game of impossible
truth — being ashamed neither of
the immaturity of past youth nor of
future senility.