D. B. DEVILLIERS

Poetry

Tag: philosophy

What Peace I Know/Cynicism

It is my understanding that the
world does not very
much care about
me
which is all right, for
I do
not very
much
care about the
world
either.

This is a certain sort of
peace at which I arrived
upon the wings of
of what I’d known
to be pain
beyond reckoning,
or pain which
at least to me alone is
unreckonable.
It makes no difference.
So I wish with all the sincerity I’ve got left
no more pain, not for anyone, not ever again
and I ask you, please listen if only to this
I’m begging you, hear me, please
when I promise this:
this peace is dear to me and
I will defend it.

And so know I will burn your
skyward pulpit of paper
while you shout screaming slurred
still perched up on its summit—
it’s a righteous flame perhaps
that you’ll burn in,
but burn in it you will
to the whirling ashwhite
echo of time’s passage,
empty—
without shape or pretension;
if you aim to take from me my personal peace
making room for your hollow high
holy hegemony—
then I will with
all of my force
and my fury
drive you
down
dead
decayed
to the wastes
of eternity.

Smiling Stellar Shapes Shown in Eyes Like Reflecting Pools Drained Dry (or The Great Nothing)

Time’s passage in perpetuity
struck such staggering
blows
to youth—
all hope, our hope—
all faith in the future

and the seconds slid slowly as centuries when
we shattered;
beliefs beaten, butchered
ideals broken up into
short shimmering shards sharp as
straight razors, slung across
searing stellar streams of screaming smoke and steam,
like shell-shot slivers set to shred souls into strips—
strewn stiffly about, shouting in stark stuttered
shock
all shining under skies stained with stilted
steely starlight of silent
solar spheres, smiling
dead across the
wastes of
time and
space—
dead smiles
dead lips and dead eyes
twisted into hideous smirks of caustic mirth
gazes fixed in the black.

Those staring stars are turned toward us,
we civilized machines of carbon
we who bow before our own brilliance, our antibiotics and our
diesel-electric locomotives and our intercontinental ballistic
missiles;
we who poison ourselves to pass the time,
we the sole manifestation of an empty universe in possession of the
capacity to conceive its utter emptiness,
we who tried to fill it with our follies
we who—we—who’d been so sure, whose salvation was
so certain—
or so we shouted as
we slaughtered ourselves—
so certain, so certain,
but we’d merely mistaken for sparks of cosmic affirmation
that we might have indeed been significant
that dead sneering scorn of dead distant suns
which fell upon our fields of forty thousand felled
before batteries of rifled artillery pieces;
but their bitter grins aren’t real
and there is nothing.
Because the folly of men oft felled folly itself, clear-cut forests of fallacy
in our pursuit of salvation
eternity, infinity
but in the end
it wrought only ruin.

Oh, man’s forlorn delusion-obscured impotence

And the stars all strung up in their sockets
each whose dead fixed stare touches nothing
do not exist
just illusions of our own illustration
and we too are illusory, and our being is
much too fleeting to be—
for the stars and the seas could switch and we might
tumble through the earth toward cerulean skies and
we might fall upon the heavens from below
and then out here, like the rest,
out here where the weed decays,
we might have long been
already but rust
and stardust.

 

This means nothing.

Electric Can Opener/Spending Time Saving Time

I have an electric can
opener
and it opens cans quickly,
saving some seconds
per can opened—
seconds I would’ve lost
had I opened the can
with a manual
can opener.

I travel by airliner
whenever possible because
five hundred and twenty-five
miles per hour is faster
than walking
but when I can’t fly,
I take interstate
highways because
they’re more efficient than
small roads,
so I save time.

I wait for convenient
spots in
parking lots
to become available,
so I spend less time
walking to and from my car,
and I have more time to spend
waiting for convenient parking
spots to open up.

I wait for the elevator
instead of taking the stairs
so that way I can spend
the time I would’ve
spent taking the stairs
waiting for the elevator
so that way I can save the time
I would’ve spent taking
the stairs.

I don’t know what
I’ll do with all of
this time I’m saving,
but hopefully I won’t have
to spend too much time
doing it.

With Artful Cruelty

Fyodor Dostoevsky observed in his final work The Brothers Karamazov that, despite our alleged civility, human beings possess a capacity for cruelty far beyond that of any other creature—his specific phrasing was that we humans are “artistically cruel,” if I correctly recall.

When I first read Karamazov, I had been at that time taking an intro-level philosophy course. My professor, a kindly 77-year-old Korean War veteran of significant academic distinction, relayed to the class a story pertaining to Nazi Germany’s conduct in rural Russia, Dostoevsky’s homeland, during the Second World War:

Germany began her colossal conquest of the Soviet Union during the summer of 1941. German forces often came across villages buried deep within the Russian countryside: villages which had maintained so little contact with the outside world, it was as though they had been preserved from progress and the passage of time—a pristine glimpse into the age of Peter the Great, perhaps. So isolated were these tiny towns that their inhabitants had hardly ever before been exposed to the power of music.

German unit commanders became quickly aware of this fact.

With the artful cruelty that so deeply pervaded Nazi hegemony, Wehrmacht armor and infantry would surround one of these anachronistic villages, whose residents had in all probability never seen so much as an automobile before. The tankers, their massive machines running idle in place, would then begin playing a recording of Rossini’s William Tell overture in unison—and at a deafening volume—through loudspeakers mounted to the tanks’ armor plates.

Nearly halfway through the piece, the Panzers would begin to inch toward the village—almost imperceptibly at first, but soon accelerating, gaining speed commensurate with the music’s mounting intensity—tracks turning faster and faster, engines roaring louder and louder—as though Rossini himself had composed a part specifically for those armored machines, penning it into his score nearly a century before the tank was invented.

At this point, the piece’s recording began to approach its final measures. The sound grew maddeningly loud as the orchestra played to a cacophonous crescendo.

Then, at long last, the finale’s first notes rang out. The order was given to take the village.

The 75mm guns fixed to each Panzer’s turret spoke with burning breath—horrific hellfire percussion echoed behind the climactic close of William Tell. Engines of decimation roared with demonic rage; the full fury of modern industrial warfare struck the village like lightning. Within minutes, the life which existed there unmolested for centuries was obliterated.

And the music did onward play, an encore for which no request was made, when the Panzers again happened upon similar places.

Just as Dostoevsky once noted, over half a century before those lands which he has immortalized in literature were ravaged by the Nazi war machine, we humans are indeed imbued with a unique capacity for cruelty—such awful, artful cruelty.

The Mind A Temple

It’s long been said how
the body is a temple
and maybe, in a metaphorical sense,
there’s truth to that
but the mind is not.

With all of his terrible strength,
Samson would be unable
to collapse the mind into itself
and no amount of fury or hellfire
could level it, either.
The mind isn’t bound by physical restraints;
physical means threaten it
no more than they threaten God himself.

The mind, friends,
is infinite
and it will endure.