#110: Poem: To Understand the World

TO UNDERSTAND THE WORLD

Corvallis, August 20th, 2021 – P#754

how it would be
if finally we
could claim to comprehend
whatever it is
that daily surrounds us?

are choosing we
to blissfully ignore
all that life has to offer

in joy and in pain,
in bliss and damnation,
in promise and anguish,
in safety and danger,
both heaven and hell?

in this all-twisted world
you cannot have one
without the other
for too long a time

the path of life
if long enough
will lead us through all
in spite of our bestest intentions

now, seeing all this,
do we then choose
that knowledge is better
than ignorance?

once knowledge we choose,
how much of a Faustian bargain
should willing we be to sometimes embrace?

or should we yield to ignorance,
or blissful non-awareness,
how much are we willing to lose as well?

and once we are done,
how much of all that understanding
will stay with us in what may still come?

just like moments in time,
we are fragments of life
thrown in the maelstrom of strangest existence
thinking we need to make sense of it all

to understand the world
may lead us to knowledge
to highest achievement
and yet
we are mortal

and that which is eternal,
may care it or not,
might care just enough
to take note
of all our attempts
erratic they may well be:

so that something survives
at least as a memory

for the idea
that all this could have been in vain
is certainly not an understanding
we ever will be
prepared to accept

and yet
to truly understand the world
may ask us to do so
nevertheless

philjohn.com/poems

#100: Poem: One Moment in Time


ONE MOMENT IN TIME
(一期一会)


Corvallis, May 29th, 2021 – P#752

what we are
it is
what it is

there is nothing here
and everything

we are not meant to last
and yet we want to

this
is foolish desire

for meaning
lies in the fleeting,
not in permanence

in the end
in the beginning
we are
and we’ll be

there has to be an end
in order for a beginning to matter

one moment in time
is all we ever have
in this cruel and beautiful life

each moment
unique
and not to be wasted

一期一会

philjohn.com/poems


一期一会 – ichi-go ichi-e: one moment, one meeting: an idea from Zen Buddhism in which every single moment counts. It can translate as “One moment, one meeting”.

#70: Poem: WAKE FOR A WORLD OUT OF BALANCE

Corvallis, December 31st, 2020 – January 10th, 2021 – P#749



stand we here in judgement
of a world that’s gone awry

?

whose judgement is there
we should listen to?
who’s left among us
that should judge?

we see the signs
we hear the words
and there are countless other ones we don’t

and judgements,
judgements,
there are plenty of those now today

thus maybe
it would be much preferred
just this one time
to simply
not judge
to simply
not opinionate
to simply
not here declamate:

and maybe
just maybe
we should just
be
just be
just in this moment
simply be

and take in
and be still:
and still be

in this world of fullness
true nothingness
just for a moment
may just be
all we need

wake
but don’t make
not tonight
not today
just be

philjohn.com/poems

#13: Poem: PASSOVER

Corvallis, April 8th, 2020 – P#734



there’s a feeling rising up
from somewhere deep
inside

the strangest sensation:
intense, and yet gentle,
a realization, for sure,
of something I’ve already known
and yet
don’t care to face all the time

the silliest thing,
it’s so banal,
it is so trivial,
it is so utterly devoid
of any originality
and still
so rarely
truly
expressed

we live our lives
in constant quite anticipation
of something to come,
of something to happen,
of some form of meaning
to emerge
to transform
to fulfill
the way we are

seek pleasure we
seek happiness
seek plain fulfillment
everything
thus we:
how grand a happiness
we might achieve
and last it will
forever more

how sweet such hope
and yet how shallow
yet how vain
yet how dangerous
and plain

to see what’s here
is all we need:
is all we must:

for while the future needs be tended for
its seeds are sowed quite in the now
ideally, since yesteryear
and all we need is to proceed

but future’s work
and past’s achievement
lies in the here
lies in the now:

and if we can’t face
what lies beneath
if empty we fear ourselves to be
no future will fill it
and wither we will

for life is bracketed by death so clearly
in all its morbid obscenity
so unavoidably
and brazenly
and undeniably
just so

we come from nothing
we’ll go to nothing
your hope will be a hope against nothing
or a hope that in this nothingness
nirvana lies, not emptiness:

but still
it’s not for us to know
to hope, believe, aspire, yes:
but know we can’t

and thus
the only thing remaining
lies in the now
lies in the here
so if you lie
about your inner self right here
and if you hope just ‘gainst the truth
you’ll nowhere go
and nowhere be
and nowhere will you see
what all you have
what all is here
in the here
in the now
awaiting a future tender and fragile;
but more so, a present that’s real, not just passing:

‘tis just another way
of saying, life is short,
I know
and yet
this moment
this saddest feeling
this saddest knowing
had to be meditated upon
had not to be passed over
just too eas’ly so
or unthinkingly

this night
this night of all
like every night
time passes by
life passes by
like a thief in the night:
you better know
you better have done
what necessary was:
you better hope
that there is substance
in your life
while you are meditating
on the abyss of death
you need to focus on life
which is given meaning today
and only today
and in all the todays
still coming
till meaning is given by death
finally

but today
you will remember
the oppression of days past
to ensure that none such oppression will ever return
but today
you will remember
the promise of days yet to come
to ensure that this promise will be there for all
but today
tonight
you will sleep, hopefully, knowing that if time,
if time,
if time had decided
that your work now be completed,
then today
would be a good day
to see an end to your suffering
and a beginning
to the closing
of your days

if not today,
if not tomorrow,
then sure another day

but today it is
today it is
today
it is time
to just be
just be
and be just
to yourself
and your love

Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam,
shehecheyanu v’kiy’manu v’higianu laz’man hazeh.

philjohn.com/poems

#8: Poem: AT THE HOUR OF THE WOLF

Corvallis, October 13th, 2019 – January 12th, 2020 – P#725



come, all doubts and questions come now
at the hour of the wolf
at the time of sleepless terrors
logic drifting into dreams so shallow
that some thinking still remains
yet all reason here is lost

failures fill this time of torments
symbols chase around in madness
and the mind, this strangest fellow,
cannot see a forward way:
goes astray, and fear takes over:
how I wish for sleep’s own brother

doors appear that cannot open
writing will escape my view
as I try to scribble something
I’m aware it is for naught:
dreams too lucid to be soothing
for a monster lurks inside

come now though, I did invite you
just by needing rest and sleep
my foolish need to stay alive
invites this torture evermore:
insomnia’s too nice a word
for this here spectacle at hand

and as I drift and drift now further
all that’s hidden gets revealed
(quidquid latet, apparebit):
yes, this is a requiem
yes, this is the day of wrath
where fear beats logic every night

and when I lay me down to sleep
I’d hope the Lord my soul to keep:
but holds dominion here at night
quite something else that broke my soul:
so should I die before I wake
I don’t know who my soul will take.

http://www.philjohn.com/poems/pjkp_24_4.html#h30