Are You Free?

I’m not free,
She said,
I can’t fly free
Among the clouds.
Gravity is oppressing me
And holding me back.

I’m not free,
He said,
From the chain
Of causality
That stretches
From the Big Bang,
Throwing matter into motion,
To the motion of the air
From her lips
To my ear
Telling me its over.

The inevitability
Of cause and effect
Chain me down
Like a tiger in a cage.

I’m not free,
He said,
Because one day
I must die and
There’s not enough time
To do all the things;
Not enough money
To buy all the things.
I’m trapped,
Wings clipped,
By mortality.

But you are free,
Said Epictetus,
You cannot
Glide among the gulls
And cannot avoid
Inevitable endings,
But you are free
To choose
To accept the things
You have no control over
As they are.

You are free,
Said Siddhartha,
If you choose
Not to be a slave
To your desires.
Everything essential
Dwells within.
Let go of fear.
Let go of loss.

Do not expect more
Than the universe
Is willing
To give you

6/5-6/6/19

Are You Free? was originally published on Free Verse Revolution.

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Shining City Covered in Shit

Pale bloated
Puss filled slugs
And spineless jellyfish
Senators selling souls,
Guns, and national parks
To the highest bidder.

Stair stepping
Spinal chords
Of citizens, soldiers,
Scholars, and saints
To grasp the laurel leaves
Atop the Temple of Dis.
Now dry and brittle
Dusted with mold.

Sun-dried spray-tanned
Miniature mushrooms
on Mussolini’s balcony
Bankrolling the Ministry of Truth,
Redefining the length of an inch
So his paws don’t look
Quite so small.

Ossified arthritic
Vampiric leaches
Slithering calcified
Marbled hallways,
Bathing shining statues
Of founding fathers
In a darkness only
Diogenes’ lantern
Could cut through.

But Plato’s
Cave dwelling
Plucked chickens
Are blinded
By even the softest light.
Shackled to the
Shadow puppet show
In Caesar’s cellar,
Fuzzy flickering images
Distorted dancing shades,
Source of all that’s known
And nothing that’s real.

10/18-10/20/18

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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Wisdom and Fools

Wise men know
What they do not know
And doubt what they do know.

Fools don’t know
What they don’t know
And never doubt
That they are right.

4/6/18

My eighth poem for National Poetry Writing Month.

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Beyond Belief

Beyond belief,
Above opinion,
Supporting true knowledge,
Composed of indisputable facts,
Informing wisdom,
Is the Truth.

1/28/18

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

 

Chaos and Cure

Chaos around you:
Be in the world, not of it.
Chaos within you:
Be still, breath,
Be present in this moment,
The only true reality.
Be mindful of your thoughts,
Be aware of your reactions.
The only things you truly control.
Find refuge in the palace of your mind,
That quiet place inside your soul.

10/17-10/23/17

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.

Plato’s Cave (Tanka)

Shapes on the cave wall
Mind-mist, distorted; unreal
Crawl into the light
Eyes adjust to sunlight
Reality seems insane

10/5/17

This was written in response to Colleen’s Weekly Poetry Challenge No. 53 – MIST & SHAPE.

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