Perspective

“Thou art a little soul bearing about a corpse, as Epictetus used to say”
– Marcus Aurelius, translated by George Long

Life is short;
The Universe is forever:
An ocean swallowing
The teardrops of human existence,
Born a thousand eons
Before our earliest ancestors
Had drug themselves from
The primordial ooze.
So long ago that
Only God was there
To witness the blessed event.
Though, perhaps, even He
Is too young to recall the day.

A dozen millennia after
Our great-great-grandchildren
Have become dust
Blown on the solar winds,
It will still be here,
Waiting patiently
For its appointment with Death
At the other end of Eternity.

19 July 1999

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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.

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)

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

Bullseye

k6-5artemis

Nock the arrow to the bowstring.
Raise the bow; take aim.
Sharp eye, steady hands,
Calculate your trajectory.
Let the arrow loose.

Nothing more you can do now
To get the arrow to target:
Wait, watch; learn.
More arrows in the quiver.

11/13/16

Image is from www.Theoi.com: Detail of Artemis from a painting of the Gigantomachia (War of the Giants). The goddess aims her bow at a giant. She is dressed in a knee-length skirt of a maiden and wears an animal skin cap. Below her stands Demeter wielding a spear.”

A Candle

A candle is lit.
The wick burns,
Turns black,
and shrivels into dust.

A room is filled with light,
Some smoke,
and a bit of heat.

The wax melts and drips
On to a cold stone floor.
And drips
And drips
Until the flame dies.
The room is retaken
By the darkness.
The smoke clears
The heat dissipates.
The candle is replaced.

4 October 1999

A Blink in the Eyes of Eternity

The length of human life is a single point,
A blink in the eye of eternity,
A brief bright light among many
Bordered on all sides by oblivion

Flowing like a mighty river
Swollen by storms, shrunk by drought,
Never stopping, ever changing,
Flowing out, becoming the sea.

The body is a decaying sack
Of meat, bone and mucus
Held up and animated by a dream,
Self aware smoke on the wind.

The past is dead and gone: a memory.
The future uncertain and un-promised.
The present moment slips through fingers
trying to grasp sand, ever slipping away.

Memento Mori (A Sonnet)

Went down the desert where the vultures feed
On human flesh rotting in the sunshine.
Pluck eyes, testicles, suck out the seed.
Bloated remains, corpses, on which they dine.

Bereft of life, we all end up a meal
For buzzards, for jackals, microbes and worms.
Most don’t want to admit that death is real,
Its a truth with which all must come to terms.

If you live like you’ll last a thousand years
The time to be a good man will ne’er come.
You’ll end your life with your soul in arrears,
Fighting the fate you can ne’er escape from.

Slaves to fear and death are ne’er truly free,
Socrates didn’t fear death, why should we?

10/12/16