What the Cost Can Be

When going to battle monsters,
Surely the noblest of deeds,
Don’t lose sight of your purpose,
Abandoning your noble creeds.

Don’t be so desperate to win
That noble ends justify any means,
Stained in blood and life of men,
Just like all the other fiends.

No one does evil on purpose,
We all always think we’re right,
‘Til our deeds come back to haunt us
In the dismal darkness of the night.

Standing on the Rubicon shore,
You think you know what to do,
But as you gaze into the Abyss
Know that its gazing into you.

5/3/17

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.

Tetractys on Heraclitus’ River

raphael_school_of_athens_michelangelo

The
river
is never
the same river,
flowing around you changing as you step.
Each moment changing, evolving; growing.
When you step out
you are not
the same
man.

4/24/17

Poem #26 for National Poetry Writing Month (aka #NaPoWriMo)

A while back I wrote a tanka about Heraclitus’ River. Its a theme that has always struck a chord with me, as has Heraclitus’ philosophy  in general.

The image is a detail from Raphael’s School of Athens featuring Heraclitus, whose features are based on those of Michelangelo.

And, for those keeping track, this is my 200th post on this blog.

Dreams of Poems Already Written

Allen was in Asgard reciting America and
Singing the Buddhist Bible Blues for All-Father Odin
While Bobby and Baldr compared notes concerning
Daily dreams of darkness, depression, and death.
Byron rode up and down Bifröst bridge
Writing a poem about Don Juan
(No, not that one, the new one!)
Marcus Aurelius read the mythologies of Midgard,
Studied philosophy with Plato,
Admiring the stoicism of Socrates,
As Rimbaud wrote rhyming prose about Ragnarök,
Containing nothing but the truth,
Delivering it to Valhalla for the consideration of
Siddhartha, Thor and Wōđanaz.

4/2/17

Poem #3 for National Poetry Writing Month (aka #NaPoWriMo)

Its All Poetry to Me

Rhymed or un-rhymed
Formal or informal
Metered or free.
Long or short
Macro or micro
Its all still poetry to me

Personal and Confessional
Made up and Mythological
Literal or metaphorically.
Verse or Prose
Sung or spoken
Its all still poetry to me

Haiku or sonnet
Tanka or villanelle
Romance or philosophy.
Epic or mundane
Serious or not
Its all still poetry to me.

3/22/17

I’m Not Mad

jean-leon_gerome_-_diogenes_-_walters_37131

Like Diogenes the Cynic, I maintain
That I am not insane.
My brain is just wired differently than yours,
I see and experience things
In a somewhat different way.
Not better, not worse: different.
Perhaps I see things you cannot,
Notice what you’ve overlooked,
But you see things I overlook.
Imagine what we’d see if we looked together.

3/13/17

Image: “Diogenes” by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824–1904)

Seeing the Light

It is impossible to learn
What you think you already know.
You must unlearn what you have learned,
Realize that you don’t know anything:
You know nothing.
Only then can you remove the blinders,
Be free of the shackles,
And stand in the pure light of the day.

3/12/17

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.

All the World’s a Stage

The curtain begins to fall,
Darkness is all you see,
“But I haven’t completed five acts,”
You protest, “I’ve only completed three!”

The stage manager stands in the wings,
Shaking his head, looking so serene,
“You stop when I say you stop,
Even if its in the middle of a scene!”

Don’t fret about the time you get,
Every actor gets their due,
It isn’t the amount of time on stage,
But what with it you do.

Three acts is no different than five,
Five thousand would no difference make.
Be content with what you are given,
For no more or less will you take.

12 October 2008

Inspired by Marcus AureliusMeditations, Book 12, Section 36.

 

Evolution

Time before human memory, trading gills for lungs
Crawling onto dry land, into holes and up trees,
Growing legs, fur, tails and tiny little brains
That would soon be far to big for a birth canal.

Out of the trees, walking on two feet,
Hands free for carrying, nose picking and tool making.
Lower back pain discovered and bequeathed
To future generations for free.

Out of Africa around Mediterranean: north.
Cousins walk east until it becomes west,
Reunited when shortcuts are sailed.

Families become tribes, become communities, become villiages,
Become cities, become states, become countries and empires.
Gatherers become hunters, become farmers, become craftsman and artists,
Become citizens, become soldiers, become pawns of powerful men.

Brain growing visionaries become shaman, become oracles,
Become poets, prophets, philosophers and priests.

Curiosity, thirst for knowledge, need to understand
The world around: how it works and why.
Turn inside: who am I? What am I?
Realize that you to must one day die.

Needs become wants, become desires, become suffering,
Fear to lose, fight to keep, to steal, to fight, to kill and wage war.
Accumulate things, power; wealth.
Chase fleeting moments of sensory pleasure.
You will still one day die.
Try to avoid the inevitable; suffering is unavoidable.
Slave to desire, pleasure and greed can never really be free.
Sage, divorced from desire, seeking power over only his self,
Can never be anything else.

November 2016