Poetry | Why


©2019 Vernon Miles Kerr, vernonmileskerr.com

When first we even noticed

Night’s sparkling, swirling, threatening indictment above us,

Before we watched — beyond our mother’s dangling breasts —

Her carefully animated lips, imparting speech,

We had no word for wonder,

Just hopeless dumbness:

The cat’s curiosity with her self-same mute.

But after mother’s gift-of-tongues

Our pent-up wonder and fear

Of night’s  wheeling black canopy,

Burst forth in a torrent,

Resolving downstream

Into a bottomless pool of one word:


Why the cacophony of the forrest Night

Then the  silence, death and devourment of Day?

Why do we die?

And the big question:

Where do we go, then?

The more the words, the more the questions;

Un-answered questions, yielding pain and confusion

Beyond the unrequited yearnings of our dumb past,

Until the answer came in someone’s dream,

Fabricated from the random symbol-juggling of sleep,

But an answer.

An answer good enough —

A  palliative solution to the insanity of not knowing:

“Beyond the veil of the now, is an invisible world

Of invisible Powers who wantonly manipulate our reality.”

But these powers could be entreated, the Dreamer said,

With magic words and rituals of smoke and sacrifice,

For a price.

Even better,  with  the Dreamer’s intervention

The Powers could award eternal life.

Thus a new earthly-power was born;

Not one of muscle and battle-glory,

But one of dictatorship by fear

To whom even the strong and heroic bow:

An ultimate dictator.

But even Shamanic dictators

With pretend solutions

Were to be preferred

To the tyranny of “Why?”

Today, we enlightened have turned our loyalties

From the Shaman’s tricks and prevarications

To Science.

No more fear.

All questions of unseeable causation answered,

Except  one: the big one.

The degree to which  it  remains unanswered

Is the degree of our continuing collective, confused



Compendium (back to top)