On the Urban Force


Drawing by Unsider

How do you not see the façade you are merely portraits within?
Each day, when the sun reveals itself to earth-bound eyes,
you rise and ready yourself for the enterprise of business
with the commitment of the cockroach to self actualization.
Hard, straight, machine fortified and straightened walls
surround the small ponds you box your toiling bodies in,
enslaving your minds to mindlessness and so-called reason,
but what is this false god you worship in your work?
Where are you in the labors you commit to yourselves?
I venture to say that you do not know, nor have you asked;
the religion of commerce, clock, and consistency binds you
up in chains you call suits and skirts, ties, tacks, and heels,
which hang on you like weights that keep bait under water.
Who holds the rod? Who thinks of the fish to be caught?
Who thinks of the worm and its unwilled sacrifice?
Only those with appetites for knowing can orchestrate
so many careless participants to feed his stomach;
you may be the bait, the fish, the fisherman,
catching and impaling yourself for nothing on the shore.
There is no king whose table needs to be dressed
with fresh meat and the sweat of your sunburnt brow,
yet you hook, bait, and rehook more than you need
and then give it away by heaping it where nothing eats it,
whose business? And you have nowhere to dwell in yourself.

You are dead, I tell you, and you have killed yourself
as many times as you have risen to an electric alarm.
You do not rise with lightness in your heels and eyes,
but rip yourself from dreams and circadian rhythms
so that you can be the bird who unthreads the worm
from his temperate home in the cool, dark earth,
the ground you do not even know you sprung from.
You are the façade, the pictures, the people, the ground.
You are the worm, the bird, the fish, the pond,
and you are the blind painter, giving up your craft,
your agency and tool and hand to an empty façade,
a god who is only as personal as your bank account.
You store your life up in hulking concrete structures,
like moments are coins or grains that need to be collected
so that they do not give over to some kind of waste,
but your warehouse—that place you spend your mind—
is emptied daily, and again must be refilled with more time.

Here is your paltry life: pour out everything you take in,
knock the bottom out of the glass so you cannot drink from it
and then tell yourself a custodian will take care of it.
Are you not the custodian? Are you not dry with thirst?
Are you not daily surprised that toil replaces happiness
when what you work to erect is clearly foundationless?
Who takes your efforts and repays them with joy?
The numbers in currency you measure online?
The bosses who have bosses with bosses with bosses?

I tell you that you cannot create anything if you are dead;
resurrect yourself in an image you do not despise.
Despise? You ask, yes, despise—you are a life rejecter
in the way you haunt your body and never dwell in it.
You run, you automata, day in and day out, on programs
and some operator’s manual that you have never read
but learned from your father, and his father before him;
you praise the man who throws away his life to gain
a title—additional names?—and identify yourself
by the occupation that you conform yourself to;
you are robots refined by conditioning and mottos
that you have never even really given thought to.

How sad the state of man who fears still, idle hands
and labors pursued for no reason other than joy.
The artist, philosopher, poet—all dancers—even
they too have been enslaved into artless servitude;
they are those who bring you your plate and wine
when you pour a little of your night out on the town,
avoiding the home you collected and stocked
like a pantry, not a sanctuary, and daily abandon.

You, laborer, are a vehicle running on autopilot;
you have no operator—eventually you will crash.
Eventually that program will throw itself down
into a hole or into a wall or into an internal glitch.
Eventually you will have to face the limits
of your constitution and your world—your body,
of which your mind has congruently evolved.
What wants your body of office spaces, hallways,
copier machines, emails, hierarchy, spreadsheets?
You want none of these things—these means of the end;
you want beauty, joy, a lover, a child, a sibling, a father,
a value of which you are the constant author.
In your ceaseless typing and sitting, you are nothing
but a chip in a flat, unconscious motherboard
manufactured in production, training your call schools.

There is no mastery, no dignity, no honor
in this enormous monster you have grown up within
and now feed the functions of to believe in your success.
Does the neuron congratulate itself for firing?
Do the slave-systems celebrate their hard work
when all the fruits of their labors feed the whip?
Perhaps this is the lesson that we must learn—
the lower circuits that you are made up of
are the very things that drive you, master you,
and thus in turn you behave like stupid prisoners,
feeding yourselves someone else’s excrement
because it is the only food, substance you know.
What parcels come out of the terminals above,
you take in and pass on to those below, who take it.

You cannot behave if you have no will to blaze
with your own sun, to make your own trail,
to accept that you are the very actions you take,
not the slogans you tell yourself are real
and chant, research, type out, and preach
to condition yourselves with fabricated fare.
The doctrine you were taught and now teach
is what has ensnared you like frightened prey;
you fear responsibility and the truth of fate.
You will die, but you can live, if you let yourself
bear up the fount of youth clogged within you.
You can stop the drone’s buzz in your ear
if you listen to the silent things inside you
that make you dance when you feel song,
that make you smile before you can stop,
that make you close your eyes with pleasure
or deep thought or when you discover
something new about yourself—living—
not because some one else is judging, watching,
but because you cannot help yourself
and so you life your feet and eyes toward the stars.

About thepoetsglass

Professor, poet, philosophical dilettante, plus some other impressively heady alliterations. Instructional designer and copywriter. Cognitive neuroscientist by night. Self-diagnosed coffee addict, sometime dancer, brooding bibliophile, and an always salty sailor.
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