poetry


from quarries etched in hope’s terrain, the walls
from roaring foundries fueled by love, the beams
annealed by heartache, fast through storms and squalls
ambition’s towers, crowned by spires of dreams

in His mysterious way, the grand Assembler,
dissembling from our feeble sense His plan,
springs trouble from the ground, begets a temblor
of grief to raze the edifice we raise

with shattered visages and broken hearts
we gather splintered glass and fractured steel
with newfound blueprints in woe’s ink, the parts
we ply, the joists to shore, the clefts to seal

by tragedy thus welded, braced by tears,
our souls survive the quakes of future years

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o lord,
grant me

consistency**
so that i still want
what i want
once i have it

commitment**
so that i want to still want
what i want
once i have it

grant me these, o lord
so that i can build something
i won’t be compelled
to destroy

if that is too much, o lord

if it is my fate
to destroy
whatever i build

deliver me, o lord
from the discontent
that drives me to build
what i must inevitably destroy

so that i want
nothing but

to want
to rapture
to see
to chase

to hunt
to capture
to free
to erase

my teenage years were, by any red-blooded adolescent standard, blessed — flush with success, whether with girls, money, drugs, fights, or whatever else my little id might have desired.

but, all that success led to the inevitable devaluation of the currency of success.

first, like most people, i found that satisfaction was homeostatic.
no matter what i achieved — and no matter the intense, though brief, heights of euphoria i derived from those achievements — i found that i would soon regress to my historical levels of happiness, contentment, and satisfaction (or, more accurately, lack thereof).

second, though, and more insidiously, the joy of pursuing success began to fade along with the joy of success itself.
life and liberty i still had, but material and social success had begun to come so fast and so easy that not just happiness, but even the pursuit of happiness, had begun to lose its luster.

the thrill of victory had given way to the expectation of victory,
the thrill of the chase had given way to the numbing ennui of a daily commute.
i found myself climbing the steps of a shepard scale, restlessly anticipating the next peak, without stopping to enjoy the climb; inevitably, once i’d reached a higher step, i’d ultimately find it indistinguishable from the previous step.

discontent is a useful mechanism for driving men to achieve their goals.
but what good is discontent when the goals themselves have succumbed to hyperinflation?

i wrote the prayer above at the wise old age of 15, after cracking a book on buddhism and attempting to make sense of the concept of nirvana.

in the sources i read, nirvana was portrayed as total freedom from craving, desire, anger, and other such states of discontent — a total freedom that would extinguish the fires of human suffering described vividly in genesis 3.
this notion provided only cold comfort for me, though, for i saw such “freedom”, such detachment, as the death of the soul itself.
the mathematician paul erdös referred to colleagues who had stopped doing pure mathematics, whether by stopping altogether or even by switching to applied math, as “dead”; i felt the same way about my own drives — if i stopped chasing them in their pure form, whether by losing them altogether (nirvana) or by settling into a more practical routine, i’d be “dead”.
the idea of nirvana resonated with some.
to me, nirvana would be death.

hence, the prayer above.
it’s possible that i’m too much of a horizontal integrator to make things last once i’ve built them. whether this is by natural temperament or by the numbing effect of too much success, too fast, too soon, with too little effort, i’ll never know, but i’ve been keenly aware of it since even before the wise old age of fifteen.

my nirvana, then, would be a return to the pure enjoyment of the chase — and of the explosive satisfaction of capturing elusive prey — without the accompanying, specious desire to break and domesticate that prey, only to release it back into the wild once it has come to depend on me for its survival.

is there such a thing as too much success, too soon, too fast?
in order to feel successful, and to remain motivated to chase success, do we need a certain lack of success in our lives?

if we graph happiness versus actual degree of success, do we get a laffer curve?

**at the time of writing this prayer, i had never heard of the “principle of commitment and consistency” as (later?) popularized by robert cialdini.

make me feel like a woman.
six words.

she had been waiting for me.

she lay languorously on her back, her lush, dark tresses released from their professional coiffure and cascading with calculated carelessness across the king-size pillow.
a solitary shaft of soft green neon light penetrated the curtains to her right, limning every curve of her sensuous, fertile physique. as she splayed her arms overhead in a languid, catlike stretch, her beautifully crafted breasts strained against her flimsy camisole, drawing it away from her stomach; the neon light played across the toned contours of her torso, painting them with a mesmerizing, sinewy chiaroscuro.

my gaze alit on her breasts and then meandered lazily downward along the shadowy neon outline of her stomach.
between the lines.
i finally became lost in the hazy sfumato between her legs.
her hips thrust further forward in an instinctive, primal response to my shameless staring; her legs spread just far enough for her sheer panties to divulge the outline of her clit piercing.
“naughty girl.”
i glanced knowingly into her eyes, meeting her lubricious stare with a wry, disarming smile.

her whole body softened, surrendering to the intensity of my piercing gaze, as she drew shortened breath through her softly parted lips.
she fixed me with a prurient glare, her eyes enlivened by defiant expectation as she dared me.
entreated me.
challenged me.
implored me.

six words.

make me…

take control of me.
unapologetically.
unhesitatingly.

take the lead.
push me.
make me dance.

subdue me.
overwhelm me.
wrest my stubborn will from me, and enslave me.

one chance.
no missteps.

do whatever you want to me.
as long as you do it now.

i’m a bitch.
tonight, make me your bitch.

…feel…

fuck me.
make my mind, heart, and soul shake as hard as my body.
destroy my illusion of control.
tear away the patina of routine and ennui, and make me breathless again.

read my mind.
ignore everything i say.
take everything from me.

exceed my impossible expectations.
rewrite my memories.
rewrite my fantasies.

be an irresistible, dynamic force.
make me lose myself.
make me forget everything.
burn away the dirty fingerprints on my heart.

make me feel alive.

i’m a slut.
tonight, make me your slut.

…like…

shove me out of reality and into fantasy.
look into my eyes, just long enough for me to see myself as you see me.
stare into me with your icy, black gaze.
pull me into your world with a selfish gravity stronger than my own.

beat me at my own game.
destroy my smug self-importance.
set me alight, and burn me to the ground.
take the ashes in your hands and arrange them however you want.
then blow them away.

make me fall in love.
then push me away.
make me into somebody else.
then send me back to my world.
make me feel again.
then break my heart.

i’m a woman.
tonight, make me your little girl.

…a woman.

know me.
read me.
best me.
lead me.

tame me.
fuck me.
choke me.
hit me.

degrade me.

break me.

own me.

i’m a madonna.
tonight, make me your whore.

men describe, women infuse.
men lead, women follow.
men know, women feel.
men extrapolate, women intuit.
men create, women become.
men demand, women insinuate.
men persuade, women seduce.
men bulldoze, women erode.
men plant, women nurture.
men push, women pull.
men catalyze, women react.
men act, women inspire.

what good is either, without the other?

make me feel like a woman.

six words.
one challenge.

can you read between the lines?

our world
is not
a matrix
but
rather
a scrolling
marquee

FIGURE

collective
experiences
craft
faintly
discernible
scripts
on the
scroll
left to right

GROUND

experienced
collectives
craftily
script
discernible
feints
that
scroll
right to left

ACT ONE

the
blissfully
ignorant
ignorantly
blissful
comfortable
and
youthful
thought
to be
a brighter
lot
than
the more
obscure
masses

they
glow
with the
blissfully
ignorant
ignorantly
blissful
glow
of
comfort
and
youth
that obscures
a more
massive
lot of
brighter
thoughts

they
are blind
to the
fact
that
they
are blinded
to the
facts

they
cannot
see
the faint
figure
on the
scroll
instead
(it
figures)
they
see
the
scrolling
feints
in its stead

and so
their mind (singular)
will
drift
right to left

INTERMISSION

the glow
is magnified
by
“education”
in schools
only
focusing
their
burning
rays
of “knowledge”
directly
upon
the
soul
of
the world

after all
they
told us
education is the lighting of a fire
didn’t
they?

burn

america

burn

our tears
will evaporate
in the flames
anyway
nothing to see here
move on

ACT TWO

the
glow
is extinguished
only
by
true learning
direct
knowledge
raised
and focused
solely
by being
burned
and
schooled
by
the world

what of
those
whose
school
education
is razed
burned
extinguished
directly
by
the world?
what of
those
back from the mouth of hell,
their souls,
all that was left of them,
shatter’d and sunder’d?

some
will
reason
why
when they get
out

they
will
reason
out
the
script
when they get
why

and
their minds (plural)
will
drift
left to right

ACT THREE

and
what of
those
intense
diverse
purposeful
put-upon
few
who
figure
the crafty
intents
and
purposes
of
those
invisible hands
crafting
diversions
to
put upon
the figure?

they
see
right beyond
the feints
scripted
by the left
but
also
beyond
the faint
left to right
script

and
so
the masses
who
can’t
see
beyond
what
they
can
see
don’t mind (verb)
the
few
warnings
put upon
them
by
the
put-upon
few

and so
those
few
who
see
what
those
who
can’t
see
can’t
see
are
left to write