Tag Archives: emptiness

The Simple Life: a bucolic

The simple life, that free from care
and vain illusion we once led,
in whose embrace our flourishing
and true existence found their height,
and with such grace evolved from beasts,
abandoned filth and savage ways,
escaped the snares of worldly pride
and sought for truth in nature’s maze.

Such self-absorbing righteousness!

That such conceit we still embrace,
and seek as blessing, ignorance,
employing rusted tools, like faith,
to end mind’s curiosity
and in its place, raise slavish kings
who vilify a need to know,
and would in place of growth and life
sow stagnant rot along the rows.

Such self-deluding avarice!

To see the world, not as it was,
but in nostalgic make-believe,
a children’s picture book of lies
that in beasts’ mouths puts fancy speech,
and names as princes, lords, and queens
those fools who mock the sciences.
What folly, to convince the world
that free and soft, it ever was.

Such self-important bull!

There is no sweet and simple life,
and yet, those stories will outsell
the honest, plain and dirty truth:
that the world is rough and raw;
that those, when you seek bread, give stones,
are at least dealing straight enough
to offer tools, not empty air.

25 JAN 2017

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Treating the Symptoms, Not the Cause

Something to think about in the context of today’s America and unrest around the world (emphases mine):

Hitler was able to enslave his own people because he seemed to give them something that even the traditional religions could no longer provide; the belief in a meaning to existence beyond the narrowest self-interest.

The real degradation began when people realized that they were in league with the Devil, but felt that even the Devil was preferable to the emptiness of an existence which lacked a larger significance.

The problem today is to give that larger significance and dignity to a life that has been dwarfed by the world of material things. Until that problem is solved, the annihilation of Naziism will be no more than the removal of one symptom of the world’s unrest.

— Konrad Heiden, Der Fuehrer, 1944

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Words Burst the Thirteen Open

“I have nothing to say and I am saying it; that is poetry.” — Thirteen Words, John Cage

What it is or was mulled over like cheap wine
we drank although we didn’t know it and so we
called our passions sad mistakes and so refused
to comprehend but never mind it overall and if
you’re sorry that’s the price or so you say but
I was giving it free of charge in case you didn’t know

(grow old with me I said
as childishly I pulled you through the grass across the lawn
behind the backs
of those
who paid themselves to watch)

What it is or was and in the end became to be
because when I just happened to you accidents
can happen to love you and there’s nothing else
to say and my mistake was letting you believe
that I could accept nothing free of charge.

(grow close to me I said
as hopelessly I let you block the light across my soul
behind the house of cards
I built myself
to watch fall down)

Where do you think those words came from?
Did you think I was kidding?

Would I have struggled through this:
aborted our unborn children,
burnt our home together down with deliberate matches,
killed the part of me that made you love me
just so you could sleep easier knowing
it was one less decision you had to make?

Look, here is the moon you wanted!

In my worthless, bloodied hands you see it;
it is what you want, but my having it makes it dirty;
you look away – the sight of me
with your sky makes you weep.

I am the sacrilege in your dream.

Your emasculated knights could never bring it close,
the feeble soldiers for whom you feel appropriate,
but I have held it here with me for three months now,
fought dragons and returned near death,
in vain, to hang it on your wall.

Although you want it, you must not take it from me –
that would mean something, a commitment.
I refuse to let myself be shamed by your refusal
of it; it was not the moon at all you sought,
but mere reflection of it:
substance, not the style that hides it,
is the gift you turn from.

That is my flaw, that I have substance without style,
truth without flowers –
these are my bitter pills,
presented without their sugar armor.
What it is or could have or to have not anything
about will never weep my secrets:
I have cast myself into this pit
and wrenched my heart from where it was
and burnt it here upon the hearth –
for rather than the something different


I would have the nothing that we shared and then made sorrow
by denying
that it mattered, that it felt,
that it was real, that it was anything …
that it was everything.

Look, I can be more than just your mistake!
I can stop hurting, just like that!
I can deny that i will always love you!

I can look forward to Hell, where
I burn now for lying,
and you commit yourself like murder,
while we stand aside and watch ourselves
drowning in the fire.


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The Seeker’s Lament

For forty years I’ve sought some kind of truth
and come up empty-handed, more or less.
What dreams I held like treasures in my youth
have lost their gleam; my hands, their tenderness.

The journey has not gone as I had planned,
nor have the self-prescribed instructions been much good.
The waters beyond my small plot of land
remain uncharted depths, and what sparse food

I gleaned from these great oceans has become
like horded manna, fit for only flies;
my touch has turned rare jewels to lumps of coal.
My tongue once loose with song has been struck dumb,
anesthetized by years of speaking lies.
Now, even my illusions cannot hold.

Along the rocky shore, I peer in vain
out in the mist that crowds the twilight shore
with eyes now worn and weak, their muscle strained
from nights in candlelight. There is no more

soft music in the wind that brings delight,
nor quiet silence where I find some peace.
Each moment brings no end, just fruitless fight;
and sleep, once fitful, brings me no release.

At midnight, when the world is calm and still
and secrets are exchanged between the veils,
I stand offstage, behind the curtain’s wall
and where the footlight shadows barely spill,
just listening to others’ wondrous tales,
and realize I’ve found nothing at all.

27 JAN 2005

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