Sunday, March 13, 2011

Stripped Naked - Reprise

"To be a good human being is to have a kind of openness to the world, an ability to trust uncertain things beyond your own control, that can lead you to be shattered in very extreme circumstances for which you were not to blame. That says something very important about the condition of the ethical life: that it is based on a trust in the uncertain and on a willingness to be exposed; it's based on being more like a plant than like a jewel, something rather fragile, but whose very particular beauty is inseparable from that fragility." - Martha Nussbaum

Martha Nussbaum (born Martha Craven on May 6, 1947) is an American philosopher with a particular interest in ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, political philosophy and ethics.

Nussbaum, though not a lawyer, is currently Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago, a chair that includes appointments in the Philosophy Department, the Law School, and the Divinity School. She also holds Associate appointments in Classics and Political Science, is a member of the Committee on Southern Asian Studies, and a Board Member of the Human Rights Program. She previously taught at Harvard and Brown where she held the rank of university professor.

"The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore." - Vincent van Gogh

Vincent Willem van Gogh (30 March 1853 – 29 July 1890) was a Dutch post-Impressionist painter whose work had a far-reaching influence on 20th century art for its vivid colors and emotional impact. He suffered from anxiety and increasingly frequent bouts of mental illness throughout his life and died, largely unknown, at the age of 37 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Little appreciated during his lifetime, his fame grew in the years after his death. Today, he is widely regarded as one of history's greatest painters and an important contributor to the foundations of modern art. Van Gogh did not begin painting until his late twenties, and most of his best-known works were produced during his final two years. He produced more than 2,000 artworks, consisting of around 900 paintings and 1,100 drawings and sketches

***This is a dream sequence. I am not so thin as I sit here pondering the state of things. I am also not old before my time. So this is a story poem, about someone, not about me directly. Yet, there is the suddenness of a heart event or two in my life and as well some other sudden things, so it is not as if this poem is made from pure imagination.

A spiritual encounter can be sudden and extreme, like a lightning strike. In certain Zen Buddhist lineages the master will use a bamboo cane as a striking tool. As one sits, one can fade, go adrift and the sudden strike of the bamboo will give the passage back to center. Sometimes that sudden return will yield the success one came to meditation to receive.

Stripped Naked

My stark lightning bones
Are thin, and look quite fragile
Reaching for heaven.

I was stripped naked
By a mighty wind
While sure I should stand my ground.

Then you come along,
Take my last picture
Before I fall down silently,
Old before my time.

January 6, 2009 9:15 AM
First posted May 24, 2009


  1. It's funny how we always think of lightning coming down when in reality the bolts are traveling up, a distinction you make explicit with your poem.

    Other than that, I'm not quite sure what to make of it, other than to enjoy it.

  2. I thought the lightning went both ways actually, though the bright part goes from ground up. Hindus consider the thunder itself is primary and the light secondary. The light travels faster but the sound travels more deeply.


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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