Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Greatest Show on Earth

Sorry this is so bleak and pessimistic...I guess I am in a mood.

The Greatest Show on Earth

"God was led infallibly by his wisdom and by his goodness to create the world through his power, and to give it the best possible form..."
-Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Theodicy

The curtain opens on a crowded stage,
A troupe of players draped in rags as fools,
Their faces twisted in distorted masks,
With bulging crotches or with parted skirts.
Yet wizened, age-bent, crippled by the years,
The centuries that they have lived and bred
Within a haze of pheromones and lust,
Though never draining their virility.

Now watch them stumble, drunken lechers all,
And weave across the stage, more crowded still,
As by the minute more and more walk on,
Crawl over, stand erect, and pound their chests.
And soon one trips and falls, a quadruped again,
Returning to the origins it never left.
Then others trip, making a roiling mass
Of limbs and genitalia, boiling pile of flesh,
Rising and extending in a self-spawned swirl
Of replication for the sweaty glee,
The hint and glimpse of immortality
Within the climax and the little death.

But underneath their beastly grunts and groans,
The sounds of screams and angry cries grow loud.
For here and there, the orgiastic waves
Are parted by the fists and flailing clubs
Of two, then three, then hundreds locked in war,
Their throats torn open by their battle cries--
The mass of flesh divided half and half:
Two parts, one whole: the ecstasy of blood.

And Death, a shady figure draped in bones and skins,
Is striding on to stand at center stage.
It gazes out, though lacking face or eyes,
Then turns its body, points to where the farce
Has entered into this, the final act.

For now two streams are spreading from the pile,
One red, one white, both draining life away.
Yet still the bodies pile higher, farther out,
The overflowing flesh collapsing on itself,
The forms devolving in their lust and war
And spilling over from the stage's edge.

The stage’s wood and metal groan beneath the weight,
The rafters shake and creak, the floor grows weak,
And flames break out behind the scenes:
The whole theater is about to fall
Upon the heads and humping, thumping forms
Now next to formless, shapeless shades like Death,
Amoebas swimming in the viscous streams...

Until the curtain falls, and silence reigns,
And everything is stillness once again.
The curtain quivers, but the troupe has gone...
There is no encore, for the show is done.

Image credit: Andreas Praefcke, from Wikimedia Commons, under a Creative Commons License.

Thursday, May 13, 2010



Red red red! O glory of life!
My veins and arteries flutter,
My heart drinks you and spits you out
Like some wine aged to perfection.
The tops of rainbows shine with you,
And roses blush at your sweet kiss.
The fires of stars, the face of Mars,
The core of this planet of ours
Burn and explode to show your ire
Through cosmic spaces, dark and cold.

O red, these reflections are dim,
Mere embers long buried in ash.
What of that spark that once went BANG!
And threw off the spectrum of light,
A particle hidden within
Each frenzied atom as it fled?
Fear not, rage not: your spark lives on,
Is tended and held like a gem.

When first, in that moment long gone,
The universe opened its eyes,
That sparkling shard took a shape
And spread two feathered wings to fly
With black-mask face and orange beak,
Bearing this treasure with a song.
So now, if the sun strikes the breast
Of this avatar in the air,
The past becomes present, alive,
And promises wonders to come.

It is time: gather ’round this crook
Of a blooming dogwood’s thin branch.
The wind watches, holding its breath,
The sun brightens, peeking through leaves.
For here in this nest an egg cracks:
First sign of a color reborn.

Image credit: U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, from Wikimedia Commons, under public domain.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Religion: End It or Enlighten It?

Religion: End It or Enlighten It?

I have wrestled for years with an interest in religions, from an outsider's perspective, that vies with an equally strong dislike and distrust of it. I waver between these two poles, often depending on what I read (say, Richard Dawkins vs. the Dalai Lama), and I can never settle that final question: Should religion be tolerated or terminated?

It is a troubling question. The hardest part is that being skeptical by nature, I have no problem seeing the fantastical and placating aspects of religion, the way it helps people feel good about themselves in a big, scary universe, while recognizing the ways that it can contribute to personal happiness--albeit at a greater price. So, looking at it through skeptical goggles, it seems silly at first blush to think something like religion could be all that dangerous or bad or harmful...

And then we have people crashing planes into skyscrapers. Or people killing other people because they are gay, offer abortions, or what have. Plus you add on top the ever-expanding circle of exploitation in the form of sexual abuse, money grubbing, power mongering, etc., etc. It is so easy to see how religion is as poisonous as it might be supportive. It cultivates and encourages a mindset of ignorance, setting for easy answers, not questioning assumptions and "authority." Meekness is encouraged, ignorance is bliss, faith is the key to heaven. Heck, you can even have someone ELSE die for your own sins!!!