nineeleven

It’s not what it once was.
Nothing ever is.

I think back to the tragedy that caught the Nation’s attention 17 years ago, and the way everything stood still, collectively suspended, in awe. Together, in awe.

Maybe the last time we stood collectively about anything.
Neighbors that hadn’t spoken in years, sharing tears.
Family who’d procrastinated making phone calls, chatted all night.
Games stopped.
Drama stopped.
Walmart probably didn’t close.

Schools stopped teaching (or testing).
Children didn’t stop learning, though.
I was a child in 2001—a 5th grader.
I learned a great many things that day. There’s a lot I still have not learned.

Are we wiser than our former selves?
Who was the enemy?
That fear, for months following, made every other small issue disappear.
How could anyone do this to innocent people?
We are innocent people, but we are not AN innocent people.
What will it take to unite us again? 

Many of our enemies are faceless, big and small. A great many heroes emerged that day and for years after, many of whom are also faceless.

To the faceless, uncommon humans, the hero sort,

Thank you for your courage. Thank you for freedom.

To anybody living courageously in the name of something truly just, at any time, thank you.

Our Intellectual Paralysis

The sort of person that can’t wait to learn something new,
to expand my mind into uncharted territory, that’s me!

Spending all day thinking about thinking,
and toying with the ready-to-pop potential that each author boasts,
I can’t help but buy the book.

All the hours of the day
I spend thinking about all the new things that
I could be learning.

And so I sit. And so they sit, those books, as heaps of useless words,
like a junkyard of 8-tracks and CD’s in a world of iPhones.

It’s a wretched, frightful thing to own a vast library
of books,
most of them never opened.

The thirst for knowledge,
That chalice of existential meaning,
Is more like the Holy Grail than any of us would prefer.
The path is rugged and daunting.
The commitment, great.
The detail, mundane.
The time, tiresome.

The chance, the lesson, the reward?

is Areté

Pick up the next book you see,
and start now.
It’s always worth it.

The Calling

a poem by Jakob Gollon

You must not follow your heart.
You must not follow your heart.

For if you do
you’re sure to find,

its madness knows no walls.

Mountains have tried the pursuit of such,

and down to dust they fall.

Scattered bones, the Sirens call,
no footsteps in the sand.

Trails of crumbs are blown about.

None to guide the needing hand.

Do, though, chase along,
but do it not for cause, please son,
or reason

or for truth.

Take the reigns, and carve your way,
if the chase so howls your name.
Bludgeon the doubt that creeps within,

and find out why you came.

But if you’re the coward that heeds my bell,

and heavy flows the fear in you,

Then please my boy, start home at once,

By air, by boat or train.

‘cause your heart wandered lost
way long ago,
and your whole pursuit
will be in vain.