Ecclesiastes (poem)

From I.O.U., Wim’s new book of poems, available at

(Upon reading “Mind at the End of Its Tether” by H.G. Wells)

Saith the Sage,
there is no Shape of Things to Come;
there is only the Coming of Shapelessness.
Maps crumple—yea, and also the landscapes they signify—
into dimensionless wads of nothing;
the clock’s hands are blurred the whole way round;
the eons snap their fingers in our faces.
The very NOW contracts its steel coils
and breaks our ribs and squeezes our breath away.
There is no way out or round or through.

The bitter wisdom of the Sage
begins with the knowledge of vanity;
the multitude is not disposed to know
and so it will never know.
In the glass-walled formicary of this world,
the ants keep faith in the magical placations of their leaders, 
whose bigotries blossom into radiant cruelty.
The subservient fear-haunted mind
in its blind libidinous craving to exist
retreats into a sanctuary of jaded reassurance,
the idiot’s recital of the everyday.

There is no way out or round or through;
the way ahead is steeply up or steeply down.
May mind climb the rungs of the air
and the worm aspire to the stars?
To go steeply up is to cease to be human;
our heirs are creatures we know nothing of.

Gluttonous time devours us all;
the cherished delusion of recurrence is dead;
gravitation’s golden cord is frayed;
earth slows in its spinning,
and the years and days grow longer;
the equinoxes wobble in their precession;
night no longer follows day, nor day the night;
there are naught but new things under the dying sun;
we lie when we say we have seen them before.
There is no way out or round or through.

Now that mind,
that strange intruder,
that peculiar throb in matter,
is at its final ebb,
the grinning Antagonist goads us with the riddle:
“Is this all?”
For the more we reach the less we grasp
in saecula saeculorum—
for ever and ever.


Appeared in The Thieving Magpie, Issue 9, Spring 2020.

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