Sabbatical by Joe Dees


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I am embarked upon a sabbatical
Inside my soul:
Struggling, striving,
Seeking answers to questions
For which no answers may exist
And solutions to problems
For which no solutions seem to work.
Help me, O Diophantus
To unravel my perplexing knots
And understand the labyrinths about me.

If Socrates could see our world today,
He might quaff the cup uncommanded
For the moralities
And the legalities
Seem never to cohere for us.

If Diogenes raised his lantern and sought today
Among only those who choose and decide,
He might journey forever unfinding.
Our black-robed patriarchs huddle together
Dispensing final justice;
Granted the sword of Solomon
Yet lacking the wisdom with which to wield it.
They float ominously overhead
Insubstantial and uncaring as the clouds
As they rain pain down upon us.

The bleak gray halls of the condemned are filled
With the victims of victimless crimes.
Truly one does not even own oneself
Any more.

We choose not those who judge us
But instead elect the choosers of them
And amidst the clutter
Of alternativeless choices
Somehow our interests are lost.
Laws are passed that benefit their passers
And grant their enforcers further power over us
And these laws are validated and interpreted
By those who owe their positions
To these passers and enforcers.

Our truths are gagging pablums fed to us
By ghouls who profit from blood and sensation
And we greedily suck their sick gruel down
And pay our dark spooners for it
And beg to swallow more.

Truly we are plastic people in a hard metal world.
We break before it bends
And then pretend
That the hurt isnít hurting.

Heidegger once said that our essences
Were to be found within our existences
And that existence is in each case mine.
But when we peer inside our own abysses,
Seeking the solace of our core selves,
Dread Sartrian nothingness returns our gazes.
We seem to be fully as centerless
As the universe within which we reside.

Kant long ago proposed the notion
That concepts without percepts are empty
And that percepts lacking concepts are blind.
Perhaps, then, we are as blind as kittens born;
Coming only later to comprehend
That even when we join our abandoned hands,
We are merely forging sad and empty links
In forlorn chains of loneliness.

But where may we seek the balm of understanding?
To whom may we appeal for surcease from our pain?
What flocks do not blunder through bare moors these days,
Led by stricken stumbling shepherds?

Nietszche once opined
A hundred and more years gone by
That faith was 'not wanting to know'.
It is much worse than that now.
Now, the faithful seems to be wanting to not know
And to be wanting no one else to know, either.

The sheep support their blind guides
In their demands that children be forbidden to learn
For they fear that those who know
Need no longer to either believe
Or to join their cashed cowed bands
And pay them for the privilege
Of them telling us what and how
To believe and to do.

O Diophantus!
Will we never set ourselves or
Let ourselves be free?
Will we fashion our own strong chains
To bind our bodies
And manacle our minds
For the balance of our days?

Do not answer that question, Diophantus!
For I fear the face of the answer.