Wednesday, 11 May 2016

The Existentialist

Rarely are our thoughts processed more intensely and tested than as we ponder questions about life and death, especially the latter if only because it represents The Great Unknown and we human beings prefer to know (for sure) what we are up against. Throughout our lives, we have at least the semblance of some control, but over the time and nature of our death we have little or none. More disturbing still, what happens once we are cut free of a life that so loves to play us like puppets on a string and go into free fall? Something or nothing…?

Those who subscribe to a religion think they have the answer while those of us who don’t take hope from nature’s cycle of renewal.

Whatever, thinking about such things, homing on any conclusions (however arbitrary) we may reach and acting on them, is probably as good a preparation for life and death as we can aspire. 

There is much to be said for the old adage, look before you leap, but it has to be said that the looking eye does not always see; it is the inner eye, as prompted by searching thought, that is more likely to home in (or not) on not only what is it looking at but also looking for.

Looking, finding, reworking, whatever...  life, art and science owe much to its wannabes and wanna-knows.


Squatting on a patch of waste land,
imaging the growing emptiness
of wishful thinking feeding streams
of consciousness running through
alleys, backyards and housing estates,
watching the living and the dead
vying for time's favours in diaries
and poems they were always meaning
to write

Addressing the apparent insubstantiality
of shadows, inner sight focusing
on the human spirit playing host to body
no more or less than the flow of blood
feeding its veins as myth’s muddy waters
close in, re-assessing attitudes scrawled
in everyday graffiti or glued to pasteboard
points of view; scientific, religious…
(does it really matter?) ever attempting
to win us over by fair means or foul
since that first day at school,now exposed
for the saddest, cruellest trick of all

Articulating on ‘soul’ by steeling spirit,
preparing mind and body to chance
a coming of age, despite envious gods
and their petty tyrannies if upstaged
by human selfishness, stuff of immaturity
feeding an ego-led imagination
(Oh, and whatever happened to that?)
and leading us astray who so love to think
we know it all

Focusing on and interpreting the purpose
of one starry eye watching out for us
who are frantically rummaging mortality,
for a kinder fate (surely?) than to be left
drifting in full view of old gods gathered
to gloat, our humanity come less than right
for running the gamut of human history
posed by selective readings between lines
of cautionary tales told by one, Jonah,
from the belly of a whale last seen spouting
gobbledegook to hunters well up for the chase
no more or less than for its own sake

Reconstructing damaged mind-body-spirit
in the wry twinkle of an eye...

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010; 2016

[Note: This poem has been revised from an earlier version that appears under the title ‘Death Star’ in On the Battlefields of Love by R. N. Taber 2010; revised edition in e-format in preparation.]

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