Tuesday, April 11, 2006

For Questions

Shadows crawl over the world.
Are painted in a zebra

Wonder what the world would
If the view were not filtered through

Eyes, so full of emptiness, don’t even blink when the child is whipped. Child, branded by whip and scar, looks into the empty eyes and sees a reflection of a stranger vaguely familiar – it is himself.

He doesn’t understand why the eyes won’t do anything to help him. The eyes turn away and the child sees the smooth crisscrosses on his father’s back. Now he understands. His father too was once a child.

As he grows, the scars begin to close over the raw pain and a tough shell, a crust really, forms over that which was once called delicate. He has joined the family tradition – a slave to his master, just like his father.

Bound wrist to wrist, father and son lay brick after brick, building a pyramid to nowhere. Coarse clothe, like blistered palms, burn the sweaty skin off their shoulders – and smooth scar meets worn scab like foamy wave meeting spongy sand.

Child watches the sun set through the bars. Moon, working the graveyard shift, seems to be dressed in prisoners black and white pinstripes. At a closer look, it is the bars that are creating the pinstripe illusion.

(A slave seems to project his slavery unto others. And it is true: if there be but one slave in this world, then we, the free, are all slaves, shackled to that man’s lack of freedom.)

During those nights, looking at the stars, a million diamonds sown into crushed velvet, the Child’s mind wanders: Why am I a slave? Why is he a master? Why am I confined to complacency, shackled to mortality, barred to boredom, chained to impossibilities, cuffed to ordinary? Why can I not just break out, reach for that crushed velvet – who knows, I may just grab a diamond?

In the purple haze of before sun’s budding and slave’s toiling, Child asks Father all of these questions. Child, before Father’s scar covers his eyes, sees a glimpse of something he cannot word, though we, the so called “free”, with our dictionaries and thesauruses, would recognize it as pain. Quicker than its arrival into Father’s eyes is its departure, and therefore Child thinks it a trick of dawn’s awakening. Father tells Child, we are slaves, and slaves have no right to ask questions. But why are we slaves? That’s just the way it is; don’t waste your energy on childish questions, save it for your bricklaying. Forget your questions.

But telling a child to forget is like telling an adult to rebel, and as child grows, though scars grow as well, he always remembers his questions and sneaks peaks out the bars into the unknown.

Now older (it is difficult to tell a slaves exact age), he feels something inside of him, below scar tissue and under calloused skin. He doesn’t recognize it, though it is somewhat familiar – kind of like his childhood face.

That night, instead of collapsing on his stone bed, he looks through the bars – and those million lights in the dark unknown set off a million lights in his dark unknown. Questions, long buried under a thousand bricks, climb to the surface.

In that same purple haze of before sun’s budding and slave’s toiling, he gathers his friends – all young enough to revolt yet old enough to be taken seriously – and asks them his questions. They say we have asked the same questions and have gotten the same answers.

As the darkness of the crushed velvet illuminates the million stars (it’s funny how the brightest things are illuminated in the darkest places), the slaves join arms and questions in revolt. As there are inevitably more slaves than masters (for many reasons), and now nothing, not even their steel silence, coming between them, the slaves easily bust through the iron(y) bars and barb(ed) wire.

They are free at last. Free from scars. Free from masters. Free to ask questions – why should we not, I ask you?

(Though a bit abstract – how else to relate the struggles and limits of ones being? – I have tried to portray the going out of slavery, both personally and globally, in the light of a metaphor, one which I hope was more “freeing” than “enslaving”. May we, the “young enough to revolt yet old enough to be taken seriously”, never except that which is imposed upon us, and always question that which seems wrong.

A Happy and Kosher Passover.)


Blogger jakeyology said...

if you would like to see the whole poem (at the start of this post), you should highlight it with your mouse cursor.

verse, from slavery to freedom.

4/11/2006 6:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

very cure. i didnt get to read the whole thing but cute nonetheless (just like you, swoon)

4/12/2006 6:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cute is not the right adjective for the poem nor jakey

4/12/2006 11:46 AM  
Blogger Sculpt Me said...

i wonder what the world would have looked like if the view were not filtered through religion. what would the world mean?

4/14/2006 7:57 PM  
Blogger jakeyology said...

many people do not look at the world through religion.

what do you mean by religion?

religion, i think, is one of the most abused words - bar maybe the word "G-d".

like many create g-d in their image, many shape "religion" to their liking as well.

one thing i will say: if the "religion" you know makes you and the people around you better, if it is peaceful, loving, nonjudgmental, understanding..., then i believe it to be G-dly; but if the religion you know makes you and the people around you worse, if it is bigoted, insecure, jealous, imposing... then i believe it to be a religion with a personal agenda - and i do not want to look at the world through such a (dirty) lens.

there is much on this subject, and it may warrant a post in itself.

i would like to here all your views on this matter, whether you come to this blog "religiously" or not.

4/15/2006 11:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Indeed, that is an astute assumption, both God and religion have been misused throughout history to justify some of the worst atrocities inflicted upon humanity.
I like the poem more than the explanation. You said it best in fewer words [surprise. surprise.].
And of what scars are they freed from? one does not lose memory, a past, or history...

Religion is the lens through which you see the world, uniquely in your own personal way. by reading your blog, readers have the opportunity to assume your vision, to see things the way you see them, to explore life from your own vantage point. so while each reader comes with their own history adn spiritual existence they assume this blog's view when they read it.
By entering that state of subjectivity, you, either succeed as a writer, and manage to change your readers' lives, or simply become a unique place for people to visit and get a glimipse on a different life perspective.

4/16/2006 8:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"what would the world mean?"

whatever meaning one would find would become its religion, until someone asks "how would the world look if..."

4/17/2006 7:00 AM  
Blogger EATING POETRY said...

This was an amazing piece to post, thank you for sharing it. As always the language is beautiful, so it was a pleasure to read. I was really able to relate. My question to you is, what happens once the slaves rebel? Do they find the freedom they so desperately seek? Or I guess that's another story, or a whole bunch of other stories, for now that the slaves are individuals, they each have their own story to tell. I’d love to hear more.


P.S. Thanks for your comment on my blog, very insightful. Except I have something to add: it’s not religion itself that puts the expectations on people, but people who accept the expectations on themselves and then to justify the unfound expectations, feel the need and necessity to impose them others.

4/21/2006 10:26 AM  

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