Tag Archives: philosophy

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.

 

 

 

 

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Paradox

I see a paradox in form and rhyme:
A pattern, regular as night and day,
Will coax a phrase we’d never think to say.
Inspired by verse, we might compare a crime
To something sour—perhaps a slice of lime.
This act of making words a thing of play
Restores the color to what’s going gray
And lifts the spells of blindness cast by Time.
Convention, seeming like a chain with locks,
Releases brilliance that we never sought
By forcing us to free a fettered thought.
In form and rhyme, I see a paradox.

Will Preaches [to Saint Nick]

[Part III of “Santa in the Underworld”]

“How Rumor’s spell enchants adult and youth!
On what they hear, they’d gladly place a bet
Since what’s said first ‘must surely be the truth’.
To act on whisp’rings, folks expend their sweat
But labor not to play the searching sleuth
[Who’ll keep no fishy facts inside his net
Instead of being like a mockingbird
Which sings whatever song it’s lately heard].

The gentlest saint who ever lives and dies
Can’t know what disrespect he might be paid.
The World might see, with its distorted eyes,
Mistakes where prudent choices had been made
[…And dream up faults or magnify the size
Of real but minor flaws] throughout its raid
On people’s bastions built of kindly acts.
[A better jury might prefer the facts].

Perhaps that’s why a wise and ancient sage
Advised his pupils to expect no praise.
Results of deeds are difficult to gauge,
And fog of time will thicken more the haze
That clouds the acts in which we all engage
While stumbling through this snaky social maze.
To be less hurt when hearing no applause,
Expect no cheering for your noble cause.”

The moment William took a breathing pause
His sermon, not yet ended, was assailed
By Santa, who despised the final clause:
“You think expecting cheering’s where I failed?
I’m weary of your proverbs and your saws.
My name was furiously flayed and flailed.
I don’t lament approval that I lacked
But rather being sliced, impaled, and hacked.

Despite your words, you’re seeking approbation.
Perhaps you hoped you’d get me to concede
The wisdom of your moral recitation
And boost you with the self-esteem you need
And try so hard to earn with each oration.”
I didn’t know where their debate might lead
But thought I’d better keep it calm and short
By asking Santa ‘bout his fav’rite sport.

The Absurd Wit and Dubious Wisdom of a Madman

10 Epigrams by Paul Burgess
I. [“Deer Money”]
A conversation quickly makes it clear
That venison’s the meat that’s held most dear.
All people seem to talk about or know
Is how to hunt some bucks or get some doe.

II. [“An Ineffective M.O.”]
To kill with kindness murderers once tried
But found intended victims rarely died.

III. [“Epigram on an Anagram”]
A “poem” might become a mixed up “mope”
Composed by some absurdly gloomy dope.

IV. [When will you write a serious poem?”: an Epigrammatic Reply]
If writing serious and earnest rhymes,
I might be jailed for literary crimes.

V. [“Praying Mantis Mating”]
A praying mantis says, “The sex was great!”
The womantis nods before she grabs her plate.

VI. [“A Teacher’s Epitaph”]
They will appreciate me when I pass.
I know they’ll say, “He had a lot of class.”

VII. [“The Unconscious Liar”]
Don’t trust a snoring man who’s closed his eyes
Because it’s said of him, “Asleep he lies.”

VIII. [“Carpe Diem!”]
Some never feel alive, it’s often said,
Except when doing what might make them dead.

IV. [“Hobbes]
When influential monarchist Thomas Hobbes
Suggests that men in nature are like brutes,
The modern readers say, between their sobs,
“I guess some haven’t left behind their roots.”

X. [“Freud”]
The most insightful book by Sigmund Freud
Says less of mother-loving we’d avoid.
In Civ’lization and its Discontents,
There’s less of Oedipus and more of sense.

“Mindless Life in Ghostly Shadows”

a sonnet by Paul Burgess–this is one of my rare “serious” works. I would genuinely appreciate any feedback readers would provide.

This drinking tea to empty out a cup
And doing tasks to cross them off our lists
Directs the eyes to what is coming up,
Although what’s here, and nothing else, exists.
If sewing only to complete a dress
With thoughts of only what will next arrive,
Then shadows and a deathly emptiness
Accompany all moments we’re alive.

Without Awareness, tapestries of what has passed
Are woven presents filled with ghostly dreams,
And threads of faded “Now” that we’ve amassed
Will hold together Future’s fraying seams.
To always look behind or play the seer
Exchanges “is” for “is not truly here.”

This poem was inspired by the following passage from Thich Nhat Hahn’s Miracle of Mindfulness:

If while washing the dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as if they were a nuisance, then we are not “washing the dishes to wash the dishes.”…If we can’t wash the dishes, the chances are we won’t be able to drink our tea either. While drinking the cup of tea, we will only be thinking of other things, barely aware of the cup in our hands. Thus we are sucked away into the future–and we are incapable of actually living one minute of life” (5).

“The Underdog Effect”

A prose reflection by Paul Burgess
– Consistent winners are often polarizing. While hated by many, they are loved by others who enjoy sharing vicariously in their glory. Consider the envy and hostility many spectators feel towards athletes and teams that seem indestructible, and think of the appeal of the ‘underdog’ with whom many identify.

-Perhaps the underdog effect is related to its ability to inspire in people the following thought process: “I, little lowly me, could also succeed at slaying the big dragon. People might look at me as meek, but I have potential. Look at those other underdogs who’ve proven the world wrong! I’d love to obtain similar vengeance on public opinion […or what I’ve perceived as public opinion when I’ve narrated my life’s dramas to myself]. I’d love to have “them” feel that they were wrong […although they likely never think of “me.”]

– Sometimes people who are not underdogs like to feel that they have been in order to experience a sense of vindication  in defying the supposed expectations of the doubters; they imagine the abstract crowd of doubters –often dubbed ‘the world’– thinking to itself, “I sure was wrong about so and so.” What fantasies and narratives we weave about ourselves!

-Might some people’s love of underdogs be motivated by pleasure derived from opposing prevailing opinion? Betting on the underdog means to go against “the crowd” while remaining in the security of another crowd (i.e. the “underdog’s supporters”). Some people might side with the underdog because they enjoy fantasizing about the malicious joy of taunting the mighty. Whether mighty or meek, people often indulge in thinking of themselves as underdogs whose failures can be attributed to their participation in a rigged game; when they succeed despite facing ostensibly long odds, they expect “the World’s” applause to ring more loudly than it would for the entitled victors of “the Establishment”–an abstract group containing miscellaneous “types” with whom they do not identify.

“*Civilization and its Discontents*

The most insightful book by Sigmund Freud
Says less of mother-loving we’d avoid.
In Civ’lization and its Discontents,
There’s less of Oedipus and more of sense.

–an epigram by Paul Burgess