Philosophy 1307

I am learning to think in the abstract,

in questions of logic and virtue–

We, the heirs of the Enlightenment,

forsook our romantic grandparents’ legacy

of adventure and emotion

for the uncertainty of the great unknown of reason.

The professors, in their square-shouldered,

shirt-and-tie rhetoric,

tell us of history and ideas and facts,

but it is up to our poor brains

(not even two decades old, but

far enough from our innocence to have forgotten

our wonder…)

to mesh truth together into the mystery of life and language.

And in our feeble knowledge

all we know to do is choose between a and be

and stay confined to our small

bubbles that we can fill in with the smallest points

instead of pondering beauty

line by perilous, ponderous line.

the family tree of knowledge

I come from a country across the sea,

Split in half by wars and tanks and philosophy,

A place that remains to me a mystery

Except for what the printed page would tell me,

But there I have a mother, father, family;

Here I have a confused identity–

For Texas, Missouri, Korea formed by identity,

Two nations, cultures separated by a sea,

Two mothers, two fathers, yes, but one family,

And sitting here hearing of the philosophy

Of my old home that doesn’t belong to me,

It opens up my box of mystery

To the greater meaning, the global mystery

Of who and what and where makes identity.

My history is only part of me;

I am as small and yet as vast as the great sea

That I span within my story, East and West philosophy.

Is it maybe true that we, this family

Called the human race, this great global family

Is united by our own story, the tremendous mystery

Of guilt and shame and grace–a philosophy

Of broken man, whose sole identity

is wrapped up in himself, the darkened sea

of pride: “It’s all about me!”

we cry, and now it seems to me

that we from this bloody, wandering family

are all drowning in the bloody sea

of disbelief in who we are, in the mystery

that we all want to know, and put our identity

in; we hope in our collective ideas and philosophy.

so for now, i’m adopting a new philosophy:

beneath the sky, that dwarfs you and them and me,

we all hold the collective identity

of people who need love, hope, family,

and instead of answers, the mystery

that would drown us in its blank and raging sea…

you and me, on both sides of this sea,

seek (in vain) our identity in the holy mystery

of the ever-changing philosophy of the fallen family.

liturgy and legacy

and now, on hearing grace, lift up your hreats

unto the Lord, whose love extends to you,

for none from Him can tear your soul apart;

so with me come and praise the One that through

His body and His blood has brought us near

to God. Come and partake of this great feast

of bread and wine; come now, for He is here,

and He calls forth the greatest and the least.

come now, and in your outstretched hands receive

the blessing of the Lord–in peace and love

go forth to serve, to live, to learn; believe

in His great word, and set your eyes above.

the gospel carry to their darkened eyes,

that He may give them sight, call them to rise.

Grace notes.

It’s a sonic expression

Of one human being’s soul

That brings people together

In a fellowship of rhythm

And rhyme and melody

And somehow something

So intensely personal

Resonates with others

This language of

Eighth notes and sharps and flats

Fills our ears and haunts our hearts

Like benevolent healing ghosts

Of the present and past

The fury of passion in thirds and fourths

An argument against horoscopes

Tonight, I wanted to go out and gaze

At those little diamonds in the velvet sky,

The watchers of the purple-grey evening,

The ladies-in-waiting of the inconstant moon,

The celestial disco ball’s thousand points of light,

Those heavenly messengers we call the stars,

Because some say that we get our futures from the stars,

That they’re the rulers of our fate, and we can gaze

Deeply into their white-eyed faces full of light

And find our names written on the parchment sky,

And next to them, the inkwell of the moon,

But I’m finding that hard to believe this evening.

You see, every single humid summer evening,

When I would lie on my back beneath the stars,

Seeing only by the wintry glow of the pale moon,

I would stare at them, and they’d return my gaze

As if to say, “You can only read a portion of this sky,

This black page on which the ink is light,

But you, with heavy soul that longs for that feather-light

State, will never see the whole picture—only the evening

Twilight do you know, because you are small and the sky

Is deeper and grander than you know, and we, the stars

Don’t even know anything beyond our own gaze,

Because all we have is the light of a moon

That is only a reflective surface—we see by the moon

As through a mirror darkly. If we, then, the light

By which you see have only a longing gaze

For a larger context, how can you, child of the evening

Dusk, put hope in us, the dying, fading, white-hot stars

To tell a future when all we know is our own patch of the sky?”

And so I drive beyond the deafening city that veils the sky

With its smoke and neon, and beneath the moon

I wander to a place where those distant, winking stars

Smile down on me, and their little candles of light

Flicker at me, and somehow this August evening

Their smallness, and their numbers make me gaze

At a sky that blankets the earth and cradles the moon,

Making me small beneath the stars and their eternal gaze.

This humid summer evening, all I need to know is light.

To the muse

speak to me muse

preach to me the gospel of beauty

i’ve got all these stories pent

up inside me that i don’t have the words to tell

songs that have no words

just the tones of the groanings of my soul

i have no voice except the small cry

of a messenger from the outside in the desert of the real

stop evading me

before i have to chase you down

with the net of myself and capture

you, the angel of a butterful that

flutters in the wind of my imagination

between nature and supernature

speak, muse, the story of our existence

the beauty of the tragedy of the human heart

the divine comedy of our history

for i have no words except what you give me



Your words you cry

in anguish and sorrow

and they flow from your

wounded heart

like the blood that pours

crimson from every

wound we have caused you

and you bleed

your love all over us

your life the sweetest wine

for us to drink and remember

and not forget you


your lungs barely filling

with the conscious oxygen

of this world you invaded

and created

as you push towards heaven

from the nails rubbing against

flesh and earth and time

and you breathe

your word from cracking lips

the air we inhale

and exhale as cursing men

and praising you


your body shattered

by the wrath of heaven

and the evil of man

this vessel pouring out

a sweet and costly fragrance

before your burial

and you break

your heart into pieces

for us, this bread that

gives us life even when

we don’t feel satisfied

and can it be

that we should gain

a vintage a feast

a new atmosphere to breathe

amazing love

how can it be

that you, my God

would die for me?

Sonnet to Sister Earth

If you, within your veil of clouds like grey

That shroud your lovely form in gauzy breath,

Still think on me in all your bleak array;

If you remember me, though I through Death

Have entered into mysteries unknown–

Will you, oh bittersweet and wounded Earth

Bring forth the seeds of legacy I’ve sown

To grow and thrive, a new uncertain birth

Of my own thought in those I leave below,

My sister Earth, my fellow fallen one?

For I return to you–my flesh shall know

Your womb’s strong darkness when my sands have run.

But I myself, my own immortal soul

Shall exit time and space and be made whole.

Thoughts for a Thousand Miles

tasting the sweetest sour wine

that hits and burns your throat and heart

and you lick your honey lips

and say, “is there anything more than this?”

in the summer of your discontent

seeing a passionate revelation

of a one-song glory that doesn’t mention you

while angels cry out holy holy holy

with tongues of fire in six-part harmony

and you counter that you still

haven’t found what you’re looking for

living a lie to yourself just like

you lied to everyone else you loved

and hated in a paradox

like God like her like him

all these prodigal sons and daughters

and the gracious father as well

saying all these words that come

from your head and not your heart

the conscious oxygen that fills your lungs

but doesn’t dare your muscles to move

and raise a clenched fist to the sky

to be held and filled by someone else

It is Well.

His words all hit me like bad cliches,

Variations on a theme that I’ve heard played

Too many times by those more skilled than

This, someone trying to reduce the meaning

Of mystery to an easy-to-digest placebo for me

To swallow, attempting to play head games with my heart

That’s in need of much stronger medicine…

It’s not his fault. I blame the ones that

Failed to tell him that no sackful of sugary phrases

Can nourish someone who’s starving for something

A little warmer, a little stronger, a little more bitter.

All of his “Things’ll be better” and “Look on the bright side”

Spoonfuls go down like syrupy razor blades.

He asks me if it is well with me,

Looks into my eyes to see into my thoughts;

All I can do is stare at the blood on my hands

And my own dead body on the floor

And whisper, “It is well with my soul.”