to lead by example
is the only way
to make the proof ample
you don’t lead astray
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
to a coward
to get devoured
Good leaders do
the things they must
to flourish & succeed;
the great ones also
their followers to lead.
Image: Mohandas Gandhi ca. 1930
With this brief time
you might as well aspire
to be among the keepers
of the Fire.
This Fire’s not like the rosy cheeks
instead, by peeling layers,
Image: ‘Astronomer by Candlelight’ by Gerrit Dou (ca. 1665)
If you think greed
you’re enviably naïve;
if you think honor
Image: Rubens’ Hercules & the Lion (1639)
Many are called
& few chosen—
or are most just
scared & frozen?
i see the future, see—
not like a prophecy—
but i imagine
(that seems to be the key)
then, being an engineer,
i bring the future here
It’s a scarce commodity,
when someone very audibly
says, “This looks like a job for me.”
Image via SpaceX
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,
here’s how I hope (& think) we both agree:
A good teacher won’t preach what he thinks;
instead, he shows the thirsty where he drinks.
The more he grows, the less he thinks he knows.
Friends are those who keep him on his toes.
Blazing no new trail from which to stray,
at best, he sheds some light that lights the way.
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.
Brainwashers in the churches,
brainwashers in the schools,
making worship into mockery
& students into fools;
brainwashers in the Bible Belt,
brainwashers on the coasts;
brainwashers taking dollars,
brainwashers taking votes—
you’re all the same, brainwashers!
you think you’re slick & sly,
but I can see right through your grand
disguises to your lies
& I see how you
falsify your sympathetic cries—
it’s not hard when your crying eyes
look like a crocodile’s!
you think you’re safe, established
& looked up to by the youth?
you stick out like sore thumbs above the
flat, plain truth,
& already, your time’s run out—
you’re only still around
because what goes up
& you’re speeding toward the ground
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.
In Sparta, in general,
lived men of few words.
However, whenever they used one,
One day a tyrant,
fresh conquests in tow,
threatened Sparta by asking,
“Will I come friend or foe?”
Unamused, Sparta’s leader said:
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That’s when the conqueror’s patience wore thin.
“If I ride in,” he warned,
“with my brothers in arms,
they will ravish your women
and ravage your farms.
Surrender! I might leave
your children unharmed.”
Once more, the reply came, pithy and swift:
With that, the invader
gulped down his pride,
spun ‘round and feared Spartans
till the day he died.
possessed by the curse of being the best,
he couldn’t help but help people in need.
power like his was easy to use wrong,
but Superman’s heart was bigger than greed,
too big to let him sleep around or rest;
he could barely go an hour without
putting himself in harm’s way for a stranger;
he chased danger, reined in fear & doubt, warmed
like the sun & quenched like rain in drought—
he was Superman until the day
he died, paralyzed on his deathbed
when, at last, the reaper struck him dead.
still, to this day, there’s no grave to be found:
no one can put Superman in the ground.
This one’s for you, my leaders
This one’s for you, my leaders: I can see
in you the strength to topple tyranny,
to carry those who travel wearily,
to grapple monstrous Chaos in its tracks,
to lift oppressors off their victims’ backs,
to open minds & hearts & avenues
to know & love the truth so much abused—
& even this weird year,
the vision that beholds the future’s torch;
it’s in your reach—believe it!—you are free
to take that torch, and march it to the sea.