From what do we make
an ethics, my friends?—
the philosophers have tried,
and conjured everything from god to
ideal forms that stand above
the mortal ape with the large
brain; they even surmised eruditely
about the good that’s not so common and
the pragmatism of living the best life,
whatever that may mean in a
goddam affluent white world.
The religious have formed it
into intricate systems and
moral codes—they serve only
the interests of a few through
the guise of a faraway god
who rewards the obedient
and gives vengeance to those
who decide to misbehave
and not follow his intractable law.
None of these work for me;
they say nothing of the human
that suffers, breathes and dies,
and wants to be free but
cannot find a way.
They haven’t worked for
anyone else either, if you
want to listen to my
awkward point of truth.
For ethics is not delivered,
like a neat package from the caste
who know about such things.
In this case we have but ethical
servitude and an oligarchy
of the clever who speak
from far away like gods
through the thunder of
a darkening night.
So, how do you make an ethics
then, smart arse?
I guess I can only speak for me—
which is the only thing I know,
apart from the dirt under my
tired and wandering feet.
And what I speak is about the human
in front of me, who stands with
eyes ahead, and sometimes down,
with thoughts about life and death,
and doubts and desires unsaid,
and the grip of fear unresolved,
and not understanding much of anything
fully from one day to the next.
I speak of the human in front
of me, of pleasure and pain,
of listening closely and seeing in
that human all of my trembling
and uncertain fucking self.
That dear friends is an ethics,
though I am loathe to call it that
for fear it will become just another
pleasing package, or some god awful
system that becomes another hell.