San Francisco Poet Laureate Kim Shuck is curating a Poem of the Day with San Francisco Public Library for every day during the COVID-19 pandemic. Check back daily for a new poetic offering from assorted local poets or view the archive of previous day's poems.
by John Curl
Don't take your chains so personally; keep
them in perspective: human life will
someday cease, even life itself, all energy
slowing into nowhere nowhen, the universe
like a giant eye closing shut, & even then,
what dreams the universe might then dream!
Still now IS & is HERE & that is all
you & I will ever see, no matter
how many different realities
we may have seen or may see.
And NOW / HERE you & I are chained,
some to the oars & some in the hold of
a slave galley. And petty-master swaggers
down the row & flicks his whip & mutters
about how lucky we are to be free to
choose between the guard-stalked ship &
the shark-prowled sea, as we patrol the oceans
of the world in search of booty, plundering all
we meet & murdering all who would resist.
And each morning the captain appears
on the bridge in his pin-striped suit & salutes
as the guard raises the colors: the bugler blows
of stripes & stars, but we fly the jolly roger.
And you & I, poor slaves in the scheme of all
that exists, what can we do but salute when
we're told, pull our oars, remember, be,
& persist until the world somehow works
through this pain to some better eventually?
But deep down we all know
we'll never reach shore
until we mutiny.