Tag Archives: dharma

Jekyll/Hyde

fragments from Underworld

Said Will, while pointing to the place he stood,
There’s Henry Jekyll, also known as Hyde.
Though math’s not how he earned his doc’tral hood,
His project was to physic’lly divide
The human soul into the “Bad” and “Good”
And fully feel the power of each side.
It seems his fame’s the sort to always soar
Because his name’s become a metaphor.

 
Of such distinctions, people are quite fond.
Imagined cosmic wars of Right and Wrong
Are something few of us have moved beyond.
We’ve seen in black and white so very long
For fear that existence is a pond
Whose waters flow around the pointed prong
Which, partnered up with Concept’s nimble knife,
Attempts to slice, then pin and label life.

 

 

 

 

“To My Lucky Readers”

You reading prose and poetry I write
Belong among the fortunate of Earth—
But not because I share profound insight
And not because my work’s of special worth.
Then why? Because some person clearly cared
Enough to see you’d have the skills you’d need
To understand what other minds have shared
And freely water learning’s fertile seed.
The food by which a hungry head’s enriched
Might rest untouched atop your dinner plate
If birth had found you and another switched
By circumstance, a god, or luckless fate.
When filled with pride for all the things you’ve learned,
Reflect on your advantages unearned.

an Elizabethan sonnet by Paul “Whitberg” Burgess

“Smoke”

A life that’s filled with sorrowful regret
For when Intention and What Happens clash
Becomes a bitter, shrinking cigarette
Reduced, in time, to little more than ash.
A harmful word a person quickly spoke
May burn the hearer’s skin or speaker’s eyes,
But what appears a fire is only smoke—
A tiny, rainless cloud that soon will rise
And bring about no cough or choking fit,
No emphysema, cancer, early death
To present people letting go of it
And taking in a new and fresher breath.
Who wouldn’t wear a fretting, frowning face
While grasping vanished smoke no hand could trace?

An Elizabethan Sonnet by Paul Burgess

“THE GRASS IS GREENER”

“The grass enclosed inside a neighbor’s fence
Appears a brighter shade of healthy green
Than that of grass you raise at small expense.
But if you played his* role inside this scene,
You’d think your former ways had made more sense.
[For less possessed is less to tend and clean.]
…The shade of grass won’t matter anyhow,
Unless you are a hungry horse or cow.”

*that of the neighbor. Once again, poetic license is my poor excuse for ambiguity.

[from “A Treasury of Cliches for Aspiring Stars” (which, of course, is part of The New House of Fame by Paul “Whitberg” Burgess

 

“CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR”

“If you’ll just take a closer, longer look,

You’ll see that juicy, appetizing bait

Conceals a sharp and rust-encrusted hook–

Which neither tastes nor feels too nice or great

To fish it raises from a peaceful brook

And places on a human’s dinner plate.

Unless you’d be a caught and eaten fish,

Proceed with caution when you make a wish.”

[from “A Treasury of Cliches for Aspiring Stars” (which, of course, is part of The New House of Fame by Paul “Whitberg” Burgess

 

“Sirens”

You quickly cross that peril off the list
Because the danger, you assume, has passed,
But other sets of Sirens still exist
And might enchant you when no ropes or mast
Or loyal friends with wax to stop their ears
Restrain your mad, unquenchable desire
To touch the blazing sun that sears
Without enduring its consuming fire.

It’s easy to resist when you’re in chains
And friendly prison guards can’t hear your voice,
But one who’s absolutely free refrains
When fatal pleasure has become a choice.
Until you’ve walked by foes without your crutch,
Surviving battles doesn’t mean that much.

a sonnet by Paul Burgess

“Narcolepsy” or “A Visit to the Sleep Center”

The doctor said, “No coffee and no pills.”
Without my crutches, I could barely stand.
A widening hole no dozing ever fills
Had grabbed me, and I swam in sinking sand.
My body was commanding me to sleep
And sending squads of dreams to come invade.
At times they’d charge; at others crawl or creep
And wait for signs that I’d begun to fade.

Those traits, — disarming smiles and wit that’s quick—
Those labels that construct identity,
Became unglued and would no longer stick.
I couldn’t grasp what I’d been calling “Me.”
My head would drop; my being seemed to shake
Throughout my struggle to remain awake.

[1st draft of an Elizabethan sonnet by Paul Burgess]