10.31.12

game of thrones

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:29 pm by Administrator

i just tore through Game of Thrones in a shade under 48 hours. that comes out to an average of about 17 pages per hour over the past 2 days…

obviously, it was quite good. Martin maintains parallel plot lines with a lot of command. you get the sense that he worked out this universe for years before he even began the writing. there are elements in the story that remind me very much of Dune, which is not a bad thing. for me, perhaps the most compelling arc of the story lies in the entrapment of the father and the vengeful coming-of-age of his son. by analogy then, Leto Atreides is the prototype for Ned Stark, the noble leader bound to principle (if not ultimately constrained by it). and Paul Atreides, the impressionable adolescent who avenges his father, is the prototype for both Jon Snow and Robb Stark. the incestuous and arrogant Lannisters are worthy analogues for the Harkonnens.

a story like Game of Thrones is so ambitious in its breadth that its only possible weakness might be in the depth of its characters. but Martin avoids the usual pitfalls by arranging the story as a series of semi-first person narratives, which works remarkably well both in developing the characters’ voices and in accentuating intrigue (by precluding omniscient narrative). after finishing the first book, i feel committed to finishing the series. but i’m not certain as to where Martin’s world will ultimately rank in relation to those of other masters. Dune’s Paul Atreides, Compass’s Lyra Bevilacqua, and of course LOTR’s Frodo are characters that transcend any i’ve yet encountered in G.O.T. that being said, the one character of the first book that strikes me as having the ability to carry this series is Daenerys Targaryen.

i’ve heard it said that this is the decade of the fantasy novel. nowadays, most young American readers cleave to at least one fantasy book series, whether it be Twilight, Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Game of Thrones, or even LOTR for the old-schoolers. i can still remember when this sort of thing was considered a nerdy obsession, on par with Dungeons and Dragons. but somewhere along the way, it became acceptable if not fashionable for adult readers to dive into fantasy fiction. i think it’s the blockbuster movies that paved the way for this cultural change. no one had ever seen anything like LOTR on the big screen before; and the Harry Potter movies became a cross-generational phenomenon, appealing to both kids and their parents alike. this sort of stuff wasn’t adolescent voyeurism anymore; it became legitimate adult-oriented popular culture.

in any case, i continue to be impressed by how much of the world’s best science fiction/fantasy writing has come out of America’s postwar generation. Tolkien and Pullman excepted, we’ve seen American writers corner this market for the past three decades. the unifying experiences of this generation aren’t difficult to identify: growing up in the aftermath of a world war and a holocaust, experiencing the Vietnam War during adolescence, and trying to gain footing as young adults in a post-Vietnam America racked by economic recession and haunted by looming fears of a global nuclear war. this was a generation of writers that didn’t look at science fiction/fantasy as a mere contrivance or a casual diversion for kids; rather, this genre was their unique medium for expressing social consciousness and even protest.

one of the unifying themes that i see in the writings of this generation (aside from the pointlessness of war) is the use of supernatural force against colossal evil. i’d speculate that these were writers who felt the reality of the “military-industrial complex”—an American war machine so vast, so powerful, and so insidious that no common man could stand against it. one can sense in Game of Thrones for instance the seeming powerlessness of one man against a cruel governing elite. magic is the weapon of the oppressed, to overcome the machinations of the powerful.

in a sense, it’s odd to see this as a uniquely American theme; you’d think that members of other societies (particularly non-democratic societies) would feel this brand of oppression more acutely than we would. china, for instance, where government is a monolith and the individual is a non-entity. yet, china has no science fiction tradition that i’m aware of. japan has its own interesting post-industrial fantasy phenomenon; but while i do see elements of alienation and fear of technology in japanime, i don’t see the epic battle of man against his society featured in japanese pop culture. individual conscience has a dubious role in adjudicating futuristic society’s inevitable journey toward mechanization and standardization.

only in america, it seems, do we have a literary tradition devoted to the idea of employing mystical force to counter the cruel logic of government. i think it’s an outgrowth of American individualism, in the context of America’s unique experience of national transformation in the mid-twentieth century—from isolationist democracy to interventionist (and perhaps even imperialist) military superpower.

seen in this light, is it a stretch of the imagination to construe American science fiction/fantasy as a literary swan song to the pre-imperial idea of America? is the story beneath the story of Game of Thrones perhaps a borrowed critique of our national aspirations? and does the arc of its story perhaps reflect our own ambivalence toward the emerging macro-narrative of Cold Wars, anti-terrorism, and globalized free markets? i don’t think Martin aims to be political, but i think the stories are inescapably linked to his personal experience of social protest. it explains why i read into Game of Thrones not simply an opportunity at escapism but also a lens into the broader social critique we see so rarely in the public arena: a critique of our rationalism, our political expediency, and our loss of individual connectivity.

of all the G.O.T. characters, i think the one that i understand best is Tyrion Lannister. is he not the consummate American? his is the viewpoint we most easily understand—the one man who does not pretend at tradition, honor, or enduring loyalty. he is built for rule, in a country beholden to vice. crafty and consummately adaptable, he is recognizably of our kind; and yet at the same time his fatness and deformity serve as a reflection of how much we truly disdain our utilitarian pragmatism, underneath it all

10.29.12

the insides

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:59 pm by Administrator

we learn, first by the filling
of our minds with sweetness
such as in gentle urgings
or a kiss for being kind.

full of these nothings,
we are ripe for decanting,
to be let for blood
or to spill our seed.

some of us pour out our offerings
too quickly. to be emptied,
in every sense of emptying,
is a brittleness, and a learning.

for us, the next filling
comes not of a mother’s love
or of a lover’s gracious cup
but rather of festerings

like in the way nostalgia ferments
into a wanting, to fill emptiness
with drunkenness, to billow stormclouds
out of the thin mist of memory.

for most, this emptying is a lifetime,
marked by sodden footprints,
misshapen words, departures.
need i go on? surely, you know.

but we were emptied still,
like gourds polished to bareness,
in that anguish of hollows,
yet again left with no choice

but to choose our fill.
now, we think not of what matters
but of the emptying.
so i ask: how will you take it?

for me, i will take it like wine
though it is bitter and thick
like turpentine. this time
it will stain my insides.

10.24.12

1999

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:26 pm by Administrator

i’re previously written about how much i liked being 26 in philadelphia. but when i really think about it, if i had to name a time when things were best—in every sense of best—i think i’d have to say it was 1999.

it’s partly because of the events between mid-1999 and 2001 that were radical game-changers for me. Columbine in 1999 and 9/11 in 2001 were bookends of a two-year interval that transformed my life and the culture of my society. before Columbine, i was different, and so was america. random, mass violence was a theoretical thing, the stuff of dark imagination. i, like a lot of other people in america, anticipated the future mostly with optimism. the things we feared weren’t cataclysmic so much as mystical; we were fascinated with the idea that the new millenium might precipitate a system-failure. post-Berlin Wall, amidst an internet boom, and facing the year 2000, we were engrossed with the idea that perhaps we were part of history in the making.

1999 was an interesting time for me. i was in my first year of medical school, i was getting to know two guys who’d later become my best friends for life (andrew and won ho), i was traveling Europe, and i watched “The Matrix” in the theater—twice in three weeks. i’d gotten over the idea that the pop music of the 90s was God-forsaken trash (particularly gangster rap, that weirdly transformative phenomenon of the early 90s) and i was discovering drum n base for the first time. in 1999, i believed that career was something special even while i dreaded the idea of holding a normal job; i privately fantasized about publishing a great work of fiction; and i was committed to the romantic idea of finding the perfect woman. in so many ways, i was both an idealist and a perfectionist. i had not yet experienced profound personal failure; and for that matter, neither had America.

compared to what i was when i was 26, i would describe myself now as more tired of life and less connected to my city and surroundings. but compared to what i was in 1999, when i was 23, i would describe myself now as utterly disillusioned with the theoretical and disabused of the notion that career can define identity. i’m a darker, angrier, and more cynical man now than i was in 1999, and the violence in the world that transpired after 1999 mirrored the violence that erupted in my own heart over those rocky years. it was in medical school and in residency that i saw the very base root of the human soul. i experienced personal alienation and spiritual isolation, even as i witnessed the profound and enduring effects of physical abuse, drug addiction, and abandonment in my inner-city patients. my medical career wrecked me personally, because it connected me powerfully to the lost in my society; i lost the idealist that i was in 1999, and i was reborn as a man who loathed both God and himself.

if i look at 1999 as the pivot point of my life, the word that comes to mind is “betrayal”. and i wonder if it’s the word that describes the experience of my generation. we spent our formative young years celebrating diversity, social justice, and the idea of ending global poverty; we had a neverending market for our good intentions, in the inner city and in the “third world” beyond. we thought the world was a playground for our visionary ideas. but that sense of moral obligation is all but gone now. we were betrayed—by our government, by war, by economic collapse, by a drug war gone wrong, and by the false promises of our educators. we were betrayed by life. late thirty-somethings don’t vote and they don’t dream. because the things we vote on are pointless; and the things we might dream of are futile. twelve years of war and crushed dreams have turned us into a generation with wistful fantasies about the 80s. the world of passion and ideas—it’s gone now.

10.15.12

fighting my way back

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:43 pm by Administrator

we’re inundated with “news” of various kinds through the internet, and generally i try to take it all as aesthetic material rather than information per se. after all, what is newsworthy is such for a reason, and what is not discussed is silenced for other reasons. to believe in the news is to credit those reasons and the people behind them. they profit from reaction, from subscription, and from the public’s faith; but increasingly i find it hard to believe.

here and there though, i let a story sink in, with all of its scripted drama, because i can’t help myself, or because the image is somehow personally meaningful to me. this has been the case with the story of malala yusufzai.

there are many ways to spin this story. on the one hand, this could be written as a story of emerging women’s liberation in pakistan. it could be about changing pakistani opinions regarding the Taliban. or it could be about an innocent 14 year-old girl who became a bystander casualty of an American “war on terror”. it’s a potent enough story that it could be manipulated for any number of political ends.

what i see in the story is a contrast of images: a surprisingly forceful and articulate young woman, contrasting with the image of her motionless body wrapped up in bloodstained bandages on a stretcher. the story of malala is about the exquisite fragility of human beings—and how the seemingly unconquerable spirit can so easily be silenced by the crippling of the body.

i have been fairly sick this past week. i kept thinking it would be a one or two-day illness. but every day i tried to head back to work and resume life as usual, the illness was a step ahead, virtually disabling me with headaches, nausea, bodyaches, and pharyngeal pain. for five days i was nothing short of miserable. i stopped thinking about what else i could be doing; in fact, i stopped caring about much else. all i could think about was getting well—and how elusive that end seemed to be. and in the midst of that suffering, i was thinking about malala, who may or may not be able to resume a normal life, even if she recovers from the gunshots that nearly killed her.

to be spiritual, in the totally focused mode of spirituality, one has to be healthy in the body. to consider one’s intimate connection with other life and with God requires the luxury of wellness. of course, when one is acutely and terribly ill, he experiences certain things that he might later reflect on as significant in a philosophical sense. but in the throes of bodily pain, in the acute struggle for survival, there’s really no space for deep self-reflection, for the wonder of God, and for meditation on one’s relationship to anything otherworldly. when one is sick or dying, one is struggling against the basic elements and against oneself. it is a profoundly corporeal experience, inasmuch as it is a reminder of one’s mortality.

even in my day to day, it requires so much discipline for me to maintain physical health. most of the time, i think i fail. between the fast food, the high stress, and the inconsistent exercise, i’m struggling to feel healthy more often than not. the signs are obvious: tension headaches, insomnia, reflux, chronic fatigue, and high blood pressure. partly as a result of my marginal health, i struggle to maintain long-term perspective—and specifically moments of meaningful reflection with God. this is particularly evident to me during times when my health really fails, as it did last week.

malala’s story reminds me that health is not even something we can preserve by our best efforts. the world is full of people, elements, and forces more than capable of sapping or destroying the body and the mind. and as Malala hangs in the balance, her voice and her convictions hang in the balance with her; her whole life defers now to her physical battle between life and death. she, like all of us, is at the mercy of the mortal vessel that she was given. the spiritual and physical are all connected; they are constantly resisting decay; they are predicated on health, whether conferred, preserved, or taken away.

it makes me believe that we are not simply spiritual by nature; we must fight to be spiritual, and we require so much to be spiritual. and if we do not have the luxury of being spiritual, then we live, breathe, and war against ourselves as animals. this is how we were designed. the human life is a form of many fragile parts, and it is only the vessel of truth when it is allowed to be one—when it is accorded care and dignity and given the space and time to entertain the transcendent. when we destroy ourselves with bad habits, or when we destroy others with bullets born of hatred, is the spiritual effect not the same? we have taken a life that should have been a temple, and we have dismantled it, silencing the voice that could have given us the words of God

10.11.12

uncertainty

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:16 pm by Administrator

i feel that one of the great enemies of American rationalism is uncertainty. it has become a distinctly American thing to quash the uncertain, whenever possible, with empiricism, statistical evidence, and the weight of expert opinion in order to create an idea of certainty. it translates to the way we live and plan. we’re advised on “acceptable risk”; we approach the market as a quantifiable, even predictable outcome of individually unpredictable things. we bank our futures and our retirements on things that are total gambles—but which are presented to us as vouchsafed certainties.

the certainties, verified and proven as they are, are perceived as unbiased and fair. they fit our cultural imperative to replace the irrational with the rational. it makes sense then that religion, once prominent in the public sphere, has been relegated to the realm of the private. because religion concerns itself with uncertain things that must be taken on faith, it provides a lexicon incompatible with the rubric we consider most effective, most supportive of our sociolegal system, and most easy to control.

of course the leaders of our religious institutions are not content to be waylaid by the mainstream as purveyors of archaic superstition, so they seek to legitimize themselves by laying claim to certainties of various kinds. they seek scientific evidence for historical events in the Bible; they engage in polemics, to remain relevant in academic discussion; they argue the logical basis of what is written in the Bible, to level the playing field. everwhere, there is an imperative to establish one’s position as more certain and less uncertain. the Enlightenment created the foundation for this interesting fixation; what is certain is not only more true but also more beautiful.

i find it interesting, then, to consider that the world has had one religious teacher who pointedly chose to eschew the language of certainty. Jesus Christ, who spoke in parables, who disrupted the logic of the Pharisees, and who deliberately obscured the matter of beginnings and ends even for his own apostles, preached a life of utter uncertainties. his teachings did not point to facile truths or discrete ends. if anything, his preachings caused his followers to doubt what they had previously received as certain; his aim perhaps was to channel that self-doubt into a hunger for a new experience of God. thus it was, that something as certain and codifiable as the Law was marginalized, in favor of an experience of spiritual rebirth so abstract that the great experts of the Law admitted themselves confounded at the idea.

uncertainty is what Christ embraced, even in the manner of His coming to earth. He represented a form of God so uncertain as to resist the idea of fate itself, where He quaked in the Garden of Gethsemane. faith manifests itself most brightly in moments like these—moments of genuine helplessness and self-doubt, during which religion is no facile exercise in self-evident things. Christ gave us a picture of God as a creator who sees beauty in the uncertain, who in fact preaches in the abstract so as to challenge our idea of the certain, and who honors, above all, the man who does not pretend at wisdom. the humble, limited, and unknowing man—this is the meek life that Christ blesses in His sermon on the Mount.

it is terribly difficult to set aside our acquired fixation with the certain. from our society around us, we have inherited a profound disdain for anything that does not subscribe to our brand of logic; and we consider anything unprovable to be less worthy of study. these are the axioms which dictate our ways. it takes intention, sometimes intention above and beyond what is natural, to embrace what is unseen and seemingly unknowable. but i think the Bible suggests that God is pleased when His people pursue Him in the context of great uncertainty. after all, the genesis of His people lay in times of great uncertainty—the exodus from Egypt, a wandering in a fruitless desert, the conquest of an entirely foreign land. living from day to day without set times, dates, and objectives was the way of life for His tribe. their evidence was an oral history; their logic was the God-breathed Word. nowadays, we would view them as backwards, because they viewed our certainty as mischief, while they took as certainty the very things we disdain as superstition.

i feel the backwardness and forwardness of our ways. the internal conflict is more than a distraction to me; it is a battle to gain my footing and to understand what is beautiful about a journey of winding paths and elusive destinations. suffering and loss—these are the certainties among uncertainties. life is that mystical thing that demands faith, and yet in this society we try to hard so obscure that fact. this is why our failings are tragedies of an epic variety. we struggle to accept that life will never bend to our manmade rules. it invariably defies our logic. but even then, we cannot deign to be uncertain.

i am uncertain, i’ll admit. i’m uncertain about everything. even God. i am uncertain. i’m ok with that. i’m hoping that i can learn to see the beautiful in the uncertain, even as i learn to be right with being wrong.

10.06.12

do i believe?

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:04 pm by Administrator

fifteen years of peter angelos, spectacularly bad play, baseball lockouts, and New York dominance. i’ve had baseball squeezed out of me, like a slowly tightening vice on my testicles.

but yes, the ardent man underneath the apathetic veneer has slowly emerged over the past months. there aren’t words to describe what it feels like for a childhood fan of the O’s to see this team emerge from nothing to something. in america, this is an interesting story. in baltimore, this is the beginning of redemption; this is the brink of holy war, against the greatest enemy that all of sports in the entire world has ever seen. beyond the Lakers, there is one evil dominating over them all, one franchise that captures everything cruel, corrupt, and despicable not only in sports but in all of the capitalist free world. in all my life i have never seen anything like this—a playoff matchup featuring a true David against a fulsome Goliath.

baseball is always about where you grew up. you cannot transplant your baseball loyalties. when the Phillies won the championship, i was reminded that i have philadelphia written on my heart in everything except the one thing that most matters. my field of dreams lies under those lights between Pigtown and the Harbor, where i pledged my lifelong allegiance to the American flag and to the Baltimore Orioles.

to the New York Yankees: may God strike you down now and forever, that you and your idol worshipers will go back the way you came, up the Northeast Rail, never to plague Camden Yards again.

as for the standard bearers of everything that remains just in the noble game of baseball, i charge you, the O’s of Baltimore, to face the lights and to face all men, both doubters and devotees, for this purpose:

to justify the good
to punish the wicked
to redeem the game

10.04.12

exodus, the people, breakthrough

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:01 pm by Administrator

over this past week, i’ve been buckling under stress and sleeping poorly. in fact, i’ve been waking up an average of three or four times a night in a heavy sweat, feeling upset or agitated. i think it’s been several weeks or even a month since i’ve had an unbroken night of sleep. and the dreams that i can recall have been very unpleasant. they’ve been about misplaced things or forgotten responsibilities; i have a recurring nightmare about sitting in high school spanish class and realizing that i haven’t paid attention for at least a month and am now hopelessly behind.

i’ve tried four times to blog about my insomnia and what’s underneath it, but each time i’ve scrapped the entry. after a few sentences, i realize i’m too tired to continue; or worse, i forget what i was trying to say. with the stress and sleep deprivation, i’ve begun to fall into funks of withdrawal or rumination. here and there, i’ve had terrible bouts of anger, relieved in the moment only by yelling profanity at whatever convenient target is at hand (not family members, mind you).

i can catalogue the reasons for my stress fairly easily and dispassionately. i’m managing conflicts at work, with inconsistent results; i had to fire someone last week, which was unpleasant. because of a strategic plan that i implemented at my church, the lay leaders were required to vote on potential deacon candidates; the vote resulted in personal grievances and a major uproar, which has profoundly grieved me. my father was hospitalized for a serious complication of his cancer and is now in home hospice; and of course this has unearthed years of suppressed guilt, self-loathing, and shame, partly related to the fact that i’m nowhere near him.

there is more, but these are the things that quickly come to mind. i’ve experienced no pleasure in talking to people; and because my leadership responsibilities require so much interpersonal interaction, i’ve become a reluctant actor in every context. there is barely suppressed anguish and even bitterness inside. it comes out in my dreams. i trust no one.

perhaps it is no coincidence that the book i’m reading is leon uris’s exodus. i read a few of uris’s books when i was a kid, but it’s my first read of his most famous book. exodus is about the birth of israel, in the aftermath of the second world war. it’s a book that highlights the struggles of certain archetypal Jewish characters, whose struggles against anti-semitism and whose sufferings in concentration camps contextualize their overpowering vision of “Eretz Israel”. the book isn’t particularly lyrical or evocative, but it is confident, ambitious storytelling with a clear purpose in mind. it presents the postwar Israelites as a longsuffering people who are fiercely and justifiably unapologetic in their irrepressible desire for a homeland.

it would be an exaggeration for me to say that i am under seige, but i feel like it nowadays. there’s no place for me to rest. i constantly fantasize about getting away—from everyone and from everything. reading Exodus at this particular juncture is a very interesting experience for me, because when i sublimate my frustrations with people and my anguish within community, i wish for redeemed existence. it isn’t really solitude or escape that i desire. what i wish for is redeemed community—community without the trivial detractors, the entrenched fools, the self-aggrandizing voices, the manipulative personalities. and what i wish for myself is the same: less of my doubts, my foolishness, my selfishness, my need for control.

breakthrough of a certain kind is what i want. exodus reminds me that breakthrough, that powerful fitting of the individual within purposeful peoplehood, that profound reconciliation and potentiation, happens when so much impetus toward this end is generated that nothing can curb that trajectory. breakthrough happens, in other words, when one’s self-assessment and even one’s own feelings submit to (and are shaped by) one’s predominant commitment to his people. Eretz Israel was not recreated by a people who felt victimized and sorry for themselves; Eretz Israel grew out of an unabashed conviction that history was now going to be created by, instead of imposed upon, the chosen people.

once, God convinced me that i was not like others; there was a certain kind of companionship that He wanted with me. when i think about that now, i realize that this idea is nothing less than presumptuous, if not narcissistic. as unworthy as i am, why would i feel entitled to specific favor above and beyond the favor accorded to His people at large? and yet, the biblical forefathers in faith all shared this similar experience; even among their own tribes, they felt consecrated, set apart, and chosen among the chosen to experience God’s friendship. there was Abram, who walked with God, and who was renamed in His presence. Moses, called out from the rest, to be his covenant bearer. Jacob, so zealous for God’s favor that he stole his brother’s birthright. Joseph, who considered himself greater than his brothers on account of a dream. David, placed ahead of his older brothers, destined to slay the giant, and accorded the highest privilege ever given a man—to bring the Ark into Jerusalem, that God might live among His people.

breakthrough is born from impetus—a conviction that one is not like the rest, that one has been chosen to overcome all, even his own limitations, in the pursuit of godly kingdom upon the earth. to break through, one must dig deep, to the heart of what he is, and believe that his calling is specific, unique, and deeply compelling. one breaks through if he finds that core in his identity; one fails, and thus lives like the rest, if his faith is nothing more than a token of membership, a deposit on an inheritance neither captivating nor necessary.

you called me a lion. i remember that, to my shame. i remember that, to my humility. there are days when i am so embarrassed to recall that you have wished friendship with me, because i am unworthy of that. but when i look at the story of my life, none of it makes sense outside of the conviction that you have wanted me for yourself, that you have given me the gift of your friendship. if faith could be ordinary, you have called me to exceptional faith. i am struck down and overwhelmed by this call. my anger and my frustration crumble beneath the weight of your awesome expectation.

i so wish to break through what i am. tell me what i am, and i will be it. i will make no apology for what i was and for what i still am; i am all of those things, and worse. but it does not matter. i will give my life for Eretz Israel, for the kingdom of God on earth. put the sword in my hand, put the wind at my back, and put the words in my mouth; i will tell them, the rulers of this earth, to let my people go

10.01.12

open country

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:36 pm by Administrator

(write it for you man, and not for anyone else. say it like it is, and get free)

soliloquy, regarding open country:

back when we were hunters and gatherers, back when nomadism was how we survived, i think this might have been better understood. the more one stays in one place, the less yielding that place becomes, and the harder it is to thrive there. man, in his insufferable instinct to possess, to consume, and to multiply, drains the life out of the land. it was the law of living once, that we had to keep moving.

i feel it, in my bones. i feel the raw love for a new beginning. i feel it partly because it is in my nature. i feel it too because running from one’s demons brings clarity to life. settled in one place, confined within its walls, a man becomes easy prey to the enemies that descend upon him and encircle him. his eye must be on every side; his thoughts are on the hoard pressing upon him. but when he runs, the danger is behind him, and he can trust what lies before him. this is the natural law that we came to understand, when we fought against the elements and against one another with our bare hands. we still kill one another in all kinds of ways; to run for the open country is still the cry of the heart, the song of the spiritual man.

a song, for my greatest enemy:

the heart, inconsolable,
and its memory, insatiable.

when i was a child, a day stretched forth
like a winding path into a mysterious wood
of mirthful creatures and pleasurable secrets;
i could not see where the path went.

now, paths run in straight lines, the ends
foreseeable and blanched by unflinching light.
nothing under the sun pretends, destined as it is
to wither by comparison to what was.

a plea, to the steel world that does not listen:

the world was formed before i was born:
the belly of the machine and its soaring towers,
all the way up to the panes of the ceilinged sky.

once, it spouted smoke and banged away with fury,
but now it is quiet indeed. one can hear
the turn of an aimless thought, within.

all my life i have served you. i learned math,
grammar, and the laws of your fearsome mechanism.
i learned to need what you had to give.

i have become what you wished for me:
a series of plugs and ports, sockets and sinkers,
connected, constructing, and consuming.

even my imagination serves your ways.
but my plea is not for phenomenology or freedom
or the fiction of an unraveled history.

please give me three nails and a headpiece,
so that i can affix myself to the tank before sleep
because when i dream, i tend to fall