Of all that there is, exists only two realities:
“my eyes see not”, or “a deep blackness permeates.”
i rue the first — blame is a vice best cast.
The latter is clear, how ironic.
it is many things, all one:
it is a conceited, charred-chalk stain.
nothing washes it clean.
what a grand illusion, monument to this man!
a subscribed deception
excuses him of attrition, stokes his demise.
he is invincible ’till the reckoning,
usurping what he favors.
his trophies are trampled minds.
he frolics while he can,
pursuing his phallic destiny
despise him… pity him… this
mortal aspiring godhead.

it is the pharisaic letter
behind the pledging hand,
and the choking necktie and headdress.
cloaked in viper’s cunning, it lurks
beneath his arm: the tucked leatherclad book
of abandoned laws and lost rites.
a healer? a savior? a shepherd? a facade of
sired deceit. his flock is easily swayed,
bleating to the slaughterhouse.
left to scavenge the scraps, is the
mortal with divine dreams.

it is the insensate consciousness.
how completely desolate,
this cerebral wasteland.
it festers as canker
choked of life,
only sigh.
a latent seed,
devoid of lookers-on,
is cradled by strangers, with Janus
smiles: one plastic and one the deviant.
this monolith nurtures our young;
it educates our impressionable;
it satiates our lusts upon
every request.
these pulsating glyphs:
corporate mortals as reigning godlings.

it is the cesspool of morality,
a cancroid epidemic, creeping into
their thoughts. it focuses
into a single celestial body…
then becomes many…
and begets more.
tantalized fantasies become corporeal.
unsatisfied flesh-lust
is a fire that needs no kindle,
licking at their staminal selves.
underneath the sensual guise of moist porous grace
is Death, disease-dripping embrace.
She, the mortal goddess.

it is i. mine are the eyes that are blackened.
i see all that rots around me
and still i succumb.
i am of this world,
borne to its sin.
i am but a worshipping pagan.
a mortal, i am my own god.

author’s notes

“Vanities” is my Ecclesiastes. I wrote this one in one dizzying spat during my third year at college. I had seen the movie Se7en and really began to take a harder look at the things around me with critical scrutiny. “Vanities” was in many ways a very challenging piece for me. One, it was not only observational, but introspective. Two, I did a lot of branching out in form. Notice the justifications that are quite different from my other poems.

The opening stanza is very important. I set up the idea that my view of the world is either skewed, or it is the world and everything in it that is at the heart of the problem.

The next four stanzas I begin to describe in lurid detail what I see around me, however subjective that may be. I spare no one nor any group. In stanza #2, I’m speaking of the man that sexually conquers young women. He’s a predator whose center of his universe is himself. Without knowing it, he himself is being deceived by the life he leads — it wasn’t intended by design. Yet, he is his own god.

Stanza #3 deals with religion. I refer to a “letter,” being a spiritual book. It’s important not to assume this is specifically the Bible, the Koran, the Torah, or what have you. I’m using this “leather-clad book” purely as a symbol of dead religion, indoctrinated cultists, and deceitful religious leaders. In reality, the latter are the only thing worshipped. This establishes parallelism between stanzas #2 and 3.

Next I attack the pop culture and the complacent masses that consume it. I use the term “Janus eyes” which is a reference to a Roman god (again the divine imagery). Janus was a deity with two faces, who looked in two directions at once. Hence, the directors of popular entertainment are at once pleasant, but also dangerous, responsible for shaping society’s minds. Again, these moguls are the real gods for most of the populace. We worship at their altars (TV, movies, etc.) every day.

In stanza #4, I hit the sex trade. The nature of pornography is that of a disease. Its patrons can’t simply consume one form. It eventually progresses out of control. I use a woman, the object of fantasy, to symbolize decay and eventual death of her snared worshippers.

Finally, I come back to the original question of perspective. Is it really the world around me that is falling apart, or am I just as much a part of it? For that matter, who am I to condemn it or affect change? I conclude that I am indeed no better than what I see, that I too am a “pagan,” serving my own interests.

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