"passage" and "the naming of things"


by right a rite of passage
should be entered into
by one who has prepared
who understands the gravity
commitment and opportunity
of that place, that holier station
that lies through the door

a juvenile, a vandal, an infidel
stepped arrogantly up
threw sacred robes
jauntily across his shoulders
smashed the doorway
with fists of hate
spitting and sputtering
as he entered a place
bigger and more heavy
than anything he'd ever seen

this, he said
this i will remake
to suit my seedy tastes
and those who dare defy
will know my wrath

blinded by his own radiance
he never saw the lightning
that arced across the room
from all who stand ready
to protect what must never
be soiled by one
so unworthy



the naming of things

the trouble with western medicine
said my thoughtful chinese friend
is the intense desire, the near obsession
with naming every problem

"back pain" is not enough to gnaw on
it must be infinitely more precise
like "progressive polyosteoarthritis
of the lumbar vertebrae"
that is a grand, definitive diagnosis

which doesn't change the nature of the pain
or the life story of an old man, bending
slowly, fighting his agony, just to pet his dog

but oh, the avenues it opens!
to have named it gives authority to blame
and opportunity to tame

never mind that the taming comes with a cost
every pill a poison that must be converted
by an aging liver, filtered by failing kidneys
or finding no success in alchemy
the curative knife and needle

name it, blame it, tame it, she said

and i suddenly wondered if that explained
our endless need to label those unlike us




j.lewis is a late bloomer whose first book of poetry a clear day in october was published when he was 64 years old. He works as a Psych Nurse Practitioner in a jail, which provides no end of entertainment and poetry prompts. In addition to having two full length collections and a chapbook published, he is now the Editor of Verse-Virtual, an online poetry community and journal. j.lewis recommends RAICES.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Thursday, March 1, 2018 - 22:34