Let us pursue a line of reasoning
orthogonal with respect to the left’s and the right’s,
which can lift and carry us to novel heights
more on the level with our deeper feelings.
Poetic simplicity shall be propaedeutic
to such wisdom as will pull off the trick
if only we take the time to attain it.
We must arm ourselves with ample leisure,
avoid wasting it on the contrived pleasures
propounded by the global catering system;
work towards new outpourings of words
easy to follow, never before heard,
capable of breaking the silence soundly.
In such a spirit, I now shall resume
my tale of friendship in times of doom,
stand by my most cherished ones proudly.
I have also befriended stools in my day—
champions of things other than fair play,
who can misbehave if the occasion allows it—
but their actions are never unlawful,
I take them as one accepts the short straw’s full
once it’s been drawn from destiny’s fist.
Loving them has not always been easy—
they have sometimes intensely displeased me—
yet failing to do so would be a form of defeat:
one must understand the violence of others
if one is going to get along with one’s brothers,
walk the mile, give the cloak, turn the cheek.
It amounts, finally, to no more and no less
than admitting to one’s own aggressiveness,
whether directed outwards or self-inflicted.
Our lust has never been for pain or for blood
either within or without mind and body:
there is not one of us who could be depicted
as being at all inclined towards the morbid.
Each in his own manner has managed to lord it
over the most brutal forms of savage instinct.
The world is hurting and gory enough as it is
despite our protestations as pacifists,
quite sufficiently so as to make us wince
at the thought of what it may yet hold in store.
All have their own ideas on that score,
I suppose, most of which boil down to as many
different versions of the selfsame old story:
we are always in odor of some new isuppository
being put safely but surely up our fanny.
It seems it’s the one goal the collectivity
is agreed to pursue: a sterile interconnectivity
with the compliments of technological gurus;
which leaves all those already connected
rather more isolated, as one might have expected.
Take, for example, the new venue YouTube:
it is both a showcase and a video library;
all who enter there must forgo their rivalry
at least in part. Some curiosity
needs be felt, some deference paid
to what others might or might not have to say
on so peopled a stage; all animosity
is best set aside if not abandoned
when one tastes the odd tidbit at random,
without preconception, like the medium warrants:
one doesn’t go to a jamboree to sit in the corner.
It is thus at the risk of appearing quite ornery
that I bring up the subject of Florence
under the Medici or the Athens of Pericles
as examples of topics one would be very pleased
to see waxing more central to people’s concerns
than, say, sewage in East Overshoe, Kansas,
some confounded rhymester’s excuses for stanzas,
or the length of a celebrity’s sideburns.
In reality, I would not give a fiddler’s fandangle
what it is that most commonly entangles
the popular imagination but for the consequences
we are all forced to bear as a result.
Most of my friends are now full-grown adults,
it is not up to me to examine their consciences;
yet they too must perforce mind their sanity
amid the zillions of bits of wired inanity
our fellow citizens happily get away with.
Indeed, I am certain they are much better at it
than the rapidly growing number of igits
who wrap up the case for this plaintiff.
Most of us are fifty-four or older,
the watershed age when even poets start to shoulder
a peace treaty between reason and passion,
which is usually concluded not long thereafter—
Lichtenberg’s rule of thumb on the matter.
The observation, however, requires a caption
to the effect that one must distinguish
between what, finally, is sentimental gibberish
and passions one would instead be a fool
to abandon anytime before the day of reckoning—
immanent if not imminent after much beckoning!
In the former category I would include
an obsessive nostalgia for the Garden of Eden,
for the whole egg when all soundness depends
instead on splitting the white from the yolk.
One can hardly expect to hear on the news
that their unavowed need for true values
is the deepest secret of all common folk.
Their innermost aspirations would need a language
in which to express themselves to better advantage,
to inspire an authentic voice of the people.
But the amplified utterances of the world’s masses
hide the silence that reigns inside the palace
since they drowned out the last sound that was feeble.
Strict self-discipline is therefore required
to preserve one’s mental health from the fire
a starved imagination can light and kindle
if one indulges in what the media have to say:
we all know this but I repeat it anyway
since the temptation is strong to give in to the swindle.
Forced as we are to play a double game
simply in order to survive and stay sane,
let us be content with our hard-earned stalemate.