Shadows on the Sea

The shadow stretches
And grows
As the sun sets
Into the sea,
Until all is darkness.

From daybreak
Until dusk
The clock ticks
Tocks, clicks
Down to the docks.

Seconds and minutes
March in formation,
Precise, steady,
A perfect procession,
Never deterred
From the destination.

Inevitable, equitable,
Never early or late,
Arriving just
When it means to:

At Camlann,
In London Tower;
On the Senate floor.

In an Athenian jail cell,
A Dakota doorway;
In a cornfield in Iowa.

At Missolonghi,
In a Paris apartment;
On board the Ariel
— or was it the Don Juan? —
Sailing into the west.

3/30/19

 

This poem was originally posted on FreeVerse Revolution.

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Zeno of Citium

Zeno of Citium

A Cyprian merchant ship
Wrecked on Grecian shores.
Everything lost.
Discovered the wisdom of a dead man
In an Athenian bookstore.
Clutched the robes of a dog
Until he promised to teach
How to desire nothing but virtue.

Graduating from the kennel
To teach on the porch:
A good flow of life
Lived in accordance with nature,
A philosophy that freed
Slaves and emperors alike.

10/21/17

Zeno of Citium (c. 334-c. 262 BCE) was a Hellenistic Philosopher who founded the Stoic School in Athens around 300 BCE.

That Dog Diogenes

jean-leon_gerome_-_diogenes_-_walters_37131

I saw that dog Diogenes
Walking daylight, lamp in hand.
Wandering the streets of Athens,
Looking for one good man.

Living virtue naturally,
In a simple cloak he’d be dressed,
Indifferent to wealth or power,
By which the ignorant are so impressed.

Men, they complicate everything
With their customs and their laws.
Only wisdom and rationality can
Avoid the suffering these things cause.

Live your life in simplicity,
Want only what you truly need.
Your true self will start to flourish
Once unquenchable desire you cease to feed.

I saw Diogenes last Sunday,
Masturbating in the street,
“If only twas so easy,” he said,
“To cure hunger without having to eat.”

Humble lentils fill a belly,
Wine barrels provide a dry bed,
Collect all the gold your heart desires,
You’ll still end your life dead.

Alexander saw Diogenes
Sunbathing by himself in Crete.
The great king saw within him
Not one ounce of evil or deceit.

Standing in awe of true wisdom,
Wanting to do what was right,
The king asked what wish he could grant him,
Diogenes said, “Get out of my fucking light!”

hendrik_heerschop_-_alexander_the_great_and_diogenes

12/9-12/12/16

Image #1: “Diogenes” by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824–1904) Found on WikiMedia Commons.
Image #2:”Alexander the Great and Diogenes” by Hendrick Heerschop (1626-1690) Found on WikiMedia Commons.

When to be an Idealist

Hard to be an idealist when the world turns to shit,
Dreams and hopes, ideals and integrity suffocate
With cold stark reality’s boot-heel pressing on your throat.
Sweet cynicism is so inviting–
Not the Cynicism of Diogenes, simple virtuous living gutter monk gadfly dress in Socratic rags,
masturbating in the streets of Athens and telling emperors to stop blocking his sun–
Un-capitalized cynicism, giving up on humanity, everyone out for themselves
Motivated only by self serving ambition, materialistic greed and untempered desire.
Universe, a dark infinite cold uncaring meaningless place we live only to die.
No expectations, no disappointments, no pain;
No meaning, no happiness, no true flourishing of souls.

Socrates and Zeno taught me, nobody intentionally does wrong,
Ignorance and confusion over what is truly valuable,
Everyone is the hero of their own story,
Educate them or just put up with them, friend Marcus advised,
They can be a great people, they want to be.
They only lack the light to show the way. Be a light unto the nations.

Life is filled with suffering chaos and always ends in death,
Siddhartha showed suffering can be suffocated; Death need not be feared,
Many paths lead to the top of the mountain,
Some short, some long, some steep, some not.
Find a guide, be a guide; but you can’t walk the walk for them.
People only change if they want to,
For better or for worse.

Storm clouds gather, thunder in the distance,
The world returned to wilderness,
Wailing suffering of millions like a weight on my chest.

I remember watching Battlestar Galactica back in ’06
Refugees of a holocaust had found a new home,
Not perfect, but all their own,
Cylons arrive in the sky with fascism, slavery and death.
Their government surrenders, all seems lost.
“What do you want to do now, Captain.”
“The same thing we always do, fight them until we can’t.”

The most important time to be an idealist,
Is when the world turns to shit.

11/12/16