I asked an ancient, stooped and seeming wise,
The purpose of this life, in which we race
Towards our ends, encountering the lies
Connivers tell, but rarely finding trace
Of sense or reason – till we endings face.
I’d hoped she give me comfort – kernels, sage,
That she had gathered through her lengthy life
Or finally found as wisdom came with age.
But what she said then sliced me like a knife.
“I only know this world’s a senseless stage.
“So each is born, beneath the changing sky
Of this, our planet, whirling ‘round its sun,
Not knowing even whence she came or why,
To join this race, until, at end of run,
No wiser, she is told it’s time to die.”
So said that ancient, who then shortly died.
And still I wonder if she had it right.
But those I’ve asked have either glibly lied
Or being honest shed no further light,
Except to say that they had lived and tried.
We’re born, beneath the constellations vast,
Not knowing whence or why or whither, yet
We each remember bits of what was past
And try our best to other things forget,
Until it’s time for us to breathe our last.
We suffer – yet, we still may have our joy –
Like night and day, and yearly round of seasons.
The genius, childlike, tinkers with his toy
And cries, when it is taken. Yet, for reasons,
Even serfs might ask, whom lords employ.
So since my race is nearing now its end
And since exhaustion addles now my brain,
I ask, if you are one who won’t pretend,
But truly knows the why for joy and pain,
That reason, promptly, to this seeker send.
But you might say, “A purpose, each must find.
For some, it’s self, for others, appetite.
And others, who have natures that are kind,
May spend their lives in serving. Who is right?
The play is that within the sentient mind.
“For some, it’s children, spouses, work.
For some, it’s duty – or it’s nation, god.
Some labor long – and others swiftly shirk.
Some fly on high, while others till the sod.
Do dogs ask why? They’d only masters irk.
“We humans are but one among the beasts.
What purpose has an octopus or ant?
A bear or human, on a salmon, feasts.
Was that its purpose? Preachers well may rant
But you had better ask the plants and yeasts.”
But I am putting phrases in your mouth.
I open mine, beyond when I should close it.
I still could talk, about it and about.
But would one talk, who truly, truly knows it?
I ask again – and humbly exit out.
2014 January 11, Sat. 3:10 am Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York