4 questions

word count: 55

How can something as dainty as a rhyme
stretch to accommodate a paradigm?

How could stone slabs, slowly inscribed by hand,
carry the weight of 10 divine commands?

How did the founding fathers—all mere men—
give birth to a nation with a pen?

How do hearts split apart by loneliness
let themselves be vulnerable again?

island Utopia

word count: 90

On my island, Utopia, philosophy is king:
we all get off on copious, prolonged examining;
we all know we know nothing
(which is all we need to know)
& more than anything, we want to grow.

Of course, like every paradise,
it’s bound to self-destruct:
something’s always sacrificed;
someone’s always fucked.
Whether in the bowels or atop the tippy top,
some unfair share of power
will make the bottom drop—
& if I’m pressed to name my island’s key to tyranny?
I guess I’ll have to blame our lack of growth equality.

labyrinth

word count: 76

though close friends often know it before you,
no one can tell you what you’re born to do.
there is no Oracle who sees your fate.
there is no guarantee it’s not too late.
there are no pre-made maps to travel with;
there is only a vast stone labyrinth
whose pathways wind & wander to its heart,
& somehow through the walls, the center calls
you, & you know—you’ve always known—
there is a center, & you’re not alone.

Afterthought (a poem for Jordan Peterson)

word count: 170

Only after your time will Time decide
how well you’ve served our species as a guide,
but, since a leader’s life’s the life you lead,
on these 5 things I’d like to be agreed:

1
a good teacher won’t preach what he thinks;
instead, he shows the thirsty where he drinks.

2
the more he grows, the less he thinks he knows.

3
friends are those who keep him on his toes.

4
blazing no new trail from which to stray,
at best, he sheds some light that lights the way.

5
finally (to not drag out this poem)
he understands this story as his own:

a wisdom-seeker lived inside a cave
for many moons. He neither spoke nor shaved,
but scribbled nonstop nonsense on the walls
until, clearly enlightened,
out he crawled.

The only drawing left, of all he’d done,
was one big disk—a circle, like a sun.

Many disciples followed in his wake,
except they kept on making this mistake:
they drew circles, just like his, everywhere,
never discovering how his got there.

Platonic

word count: 97

there is a cave where people are enslaved
with manacles around their necks & ankles
& made to sit silent & well-behaved
beholding shadows cast from many angles.
eventually, one prisoner gets free
& sees (in horror!) the machinery
that’s been projecting his experience.
he knows this is his disappearing chance
& climbs out of the pit, gasping for breath,
where, right away, his eyes scream in the sun;
in spite of this, it now seems much like death
to live in that cave (or, at least, less fun).
annoyingly, back underground, he’s blind,
so, laughing, the cavemen pay him no mind.

a definition of desire

word count: 61

Desire (n.)
a self-devouring snake,
its scaly tail convulsing in its fangs;
whatever satiety it feels is fake;
there’s not even a momentary break
as it ingests its own abdomen’s pangs

for emptiness alone fulfills Desire,
which eating itself eats you along the way.
what’s more to say?
you’re empty of, or else feeding, Desire;
if neither, you’re entirely a liar.

The Receiver

word count: 108

there once was a quiet dystopian town
where the people had recently found
one among them, from birth, had this uncanny gift:
taking bad memories. he’d just lift
pain from your brain like it was never there,
each trace recollection erased.
how it worked: this Receiver himself made space
for your suffering in his own mind,
so you stepped out smiling while he stayed behind
& cried in your place.
                                  but soon, as things go,
the Receiver could feel his power getting slow
as he watched his dark beard turning silver,
so he passed all those memories from long ago
to a young man who called him the Giver.

i’m not a necrophiliac

word count: 94

i’m not a necrophiliac, but nearly—
i’m turned on not by corpses & cadavers
but dead minds whose ideas still survive,
whose old insights still penetrate clearly
& light the way my living self now travels,
directing me where to go, what to strive
for, how to push forward through tragedy—
their force flows through me like gravity,
the men who forged paths through calamity
& broke divisions down, empowered
by rare, uncompromising honesty
& raw intelligence—the best of the best.
trust me; genius is what thrusts me into heat,
& yours (embodied!!) makes me soak our sheets.

Gethsemane

word count: 105

cold blood beading like sweat on his brow,
he fell to his knees pleading, “take my place,
God, if you have any power now—
quench the rabid bloodthirst of my race!
after I’m killed, they’ll only kill again,
but maybe with your death, the killing ends.”

the Lord supported troublemakers then,
so before he felt the press of Judas’ lips,
the tortured young man was possessed by God

but even God didn’t quite know the price
of facing the shadow of death as Christ:
a man suffers only once & goes free,
but gods, once dying, die eternally

so God cried, “Why have you forsaken me?”

one vision

word count: 67

cresting over the hilly horizon i saw
a man’s shape, noble, strong and… bald?!
as he came close, lo & behold, i saw
a hundred silent, blinking eyes scattered
like stars around his head! hazel,
blue, brown, green, albino red—all represented!
this, i knew, was God, whose fearless sight
has no behind-ahead-front-back-left-right,
an all-envisioning giant whose great soul
can take the world straight in & not let go.