Impostor Syndrome

If I wasn’t an impostor
I’d be virtuous & brave—
but my courage is all posture
& I mostly misbehave.

If I wasn’t an impostor
I would take a leader’s stance—
but I’m bound to make a wrong turn,
so I’d best not take the chance.

…then again, I’ve seen no roster
listing who’s best fit to lead—
what if leaders are impostors
taking risks in times of need?

Image: Ivan Aivazovsky, 1890

Hurdles in hindsight

Hurdles in hindsight
look easy to jump
Tyrants in hindsight
look easy to trump
Heroes in hindsight
look destined to lead
Martyrs in hindsight
smile while they bleed
Evil in hindsight is caught in the act—
tragically, hindsight comes
after the fact

Image: Salvador Dali, The Face of War (1941)

My quest

In my quest to make every word count
I quite often reduce the amount
down to zero, at which point I shout,
“Damn it, Muse! What was all that about?!”

Image: Leonardo Da Vinci, ca. 1500

Where they never lock their doors

There’s a story I imagine
everybody’s heard before
of a little hilltop village
where they never lock their doors.

There, they don’t take love for granted
& they see no point in fame
& they share the food they planted
asking nothing but your name.

Have you traveled to that village?
If so, tell me: Is it more
than a bunch of people like us
who refuse to lock their doors?

Image: Van Gogh, 1890

A product of you, Time

A product of you, Time,
I’ll never be:
your bleeding scythe can only
set me free
from all these vicious
cycles lived on earth
& from the tyranny of death & birth—
you’ll take me, Time—
but maybe I won’t mind
if who I am
you’ll never have defined.

Your phone is addictive

First written & published in collaboration with Michael Tollman in the Farnam Street Learning Community. Image via The Zero Theorem.

Your phone is addictive. That’s really no joke!
Ask any person who gambles or smokes:
You think you can stop anytime you decide,
& that’s why you probably haven’t yet tried.

Free markets run on supply and demand,
so CEOs want that phone stuck to your hand.
Expert psychologists help them design
chimes, bells & whistles that mold to your mind:
Look at that bubble, shiny, bright red,
urging you not to leave that thing unread.
See how your apps feel so pleasing & clear?
That’s not by accident! That’s engineered
to make things so easy you don’t have to think—
calming, habitual, just like a drink.

Try these experiments: When your phone chimes,
notice how part of you practically pines
for relief. Also, toggle ‘grayscale’ on your screen,
leaving those bright, juicy colors unseen—
just like a morning without your caffeine!


Andy Warhol, 1972

What are you, opportunity?
You mask your full identity
until you’re seized—then, we can see
your face of grace. Yet, if set free,
passed up or missed unwittingly,
you mutate all too easily
into a space for tyranny.

What is Tao?

A pure mirror disappears. The mirror is Tao,
a secret known & kept by all
being (by nature) untold.
It’s boring unless
you seek to be born.
It prescribes nothing, yet heals, I think
today. What it is, though… who’s to say?

the trouble with texting

the trouble with texting is
text is too poor
to serve as the right type of
human-soul door—
there’s so much of you
i can choose to ignore
that before long, i’m not texting YOU anymore.