Tetractys for a Pyrrhonic Skeptic

pyrrho

Pyrrho of Elis

The
Only
Thing I know
For certain is
That I don’t know anything for certain.

4/6/18

My ninth poem for National Poetry Writing Month.

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Looking for Truth

You can look in your books,
Old and new,
Of beginnings and births,
Journeys and exiles,
Looking for truth
In a burning bush,
Or hanging on a Roman tree.

Search the history of time
For big bangs and clouds of gas,
Using probability and fuzzy logic,
Rationality and intellect,
Dialectic and dialogue,
Searching for truth outside the cave
In the depth of a black hole;
In the cry of a baby universe.

You can look inside,
Examine the depths of your soul,
For compassion and humility,
Poetry and purpose,
Knowing the only thing
You can truly know,
Controlling the only thing
You can truly control,
Be present
In the only moment you have,
Looking for truth
Under an Indian fig tree,
With an Athenian gadfly;
Between the pages of an emperor’s journal.

You can look outside,
At starving children on the streets,
At parents slaving to survive,
Living in quiet desperation
At the pleasure of the oligarchs
In the castle on the hill,
500 yards from urine stained crack houses,
6 miles from Robert E. Lee’s hoouse
And the tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Looking for truth
In the eyes of a stranger
Or the hand of a friend.

11/13/98-12/28/17

 

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.

Still on the Road

Driving down the poison highway
Through the nightmares of my youth:
Saccharine poetry, suicidal thoughts;
Disastrous experiments with vermouth.

Sterilizing self-inflicted wounds
With tequila, scotch and beer.
Bathed in sticky sweat,
Self-loathing, and fear.

Decades down a dusty highway
Through the terrors of middle-age:
Thinning hair; graying beard
Covering the still smoldering rage.

Calming the demons of the mind
With a single chilled glass of mead,
Wounds healed; scars run deep,
And occasionally still bleed.

Seeking release from suffering
In Athens; under an old fig tree.
A chance to finally flourish,
Living life in true equanimity.

9/27/17

Sophia

Oh, Sophia Shekinah,
Socrates-lover, Plato-Friend,
Maternal dwelling of the Logos.
Sefirah, emanating
From the crown of creation without end,
Wisdom, Understanding: Knowledge.
Understanding wisdom is knowing
That you know nothing.

6/7/17

Notes:
Shekinah (Hebrew:שכינה ) – Pronounced Sha-kee-nah. Literally “dwelling.” A Rabbinic term for the presence of God, held by some to be the feminine attribute of God. See more here.
Sefirah (Hebrew: סְפִירָה ) – Pronounced Se-fir-ah. Literally “emanation.” A term from Kabbalah. See more here.
Logos (ancient Greek λόγος) – Pronounced “low-gose,” which has been used as a term in Philosophy and Theology since the time of Heraclitus. See more here. I’ve written about the Logos previously.

The Tao of λόγος

Tao, Logos and Yin & Yang

Please note, word “Logos” in the poem below is not the plural of the English word “logo,” rather it is a transliteration of the ancient Greek word λόγος, pronounced “low-gose,” which has been used as a term in Philosophy and Theology since the time of Heraclitus. In some ways, and in some usages, it is similar to the Chinese  (Tao) of Taosim.

The logos that can be defined
is not the one eternal Logos,
The word that can be spoken
is not the one true Word,
The tao that can be explained
is not the one everlasting Tao,
The force that can be described
is not the one indivisible Force,
The path that can be walked
is not the one true Path.

Known without learning,
Understood without knowing,
Arrived at without traveling.

One unified whole,
No sides to join,
No inside to be on the outside of,
All is one, one is all,
Forever momentary,
All pervasive,
Binding itself to itself.

Source of everything,
Bookend of eternity,
Rational structure of existence,
Unobtainable goal
That has already been reached.

4/29-4/30/17

You can read more about the Tao, the λόγος, and Yin & Yang by following the links.