An ethics

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.