It’s not true, what they say.

God often gives you more
than you can handle, then
stands back and observes as

you adapt.  Or perish,
like the infinite others who were
given more than they could handle and
are no longer here to say so.

God is not cruel, just curious,
like a researcher whose interest in mice
extends outward to their tolerance, but
not inward to their small mice spirits

calling in the dark, and then
the light, and then the dark,
beneath the shock of electricity
they have not learned to avoid or

near the cheese they have
longed to find in the labyrinth
of their inescapable lives.

Response is the thing.
Despair or rejoice. Squirm or dance.
Declare the world’s beauty, or
curse its brutality.
Equivocate. Alternate. Decide again.

God wants only to sum your choices, to tally
your life beside the endless others:

Do you sink, this moment? Rise?
Or abide, eventually, in the
attenuating in-between:
a dim, dislocated shadow
of the life you dreamed when
you unfolded perfect fingers
in your mother’s patient womb?

You choose.

God notes the point where
tolerance is exceeded, where
“too much” delimits your
particular vulnerability:

The lost love,
the dead child;
the decaying parent.
The helpless flutter of
the butterfly’s remaining wing.

Waiting to see what you do
at that moment.
What you have learned.

So laugh, and die well every day.
Not like Narcissus, enamored
of your own brief beauty, having looked
no further all your life. Nor Jocasta,
given to your own vast despair
as if it mattered.

But like Li Po, drunk on
wine and wisdom, and happy,
his poet’s body creasing the cool
dark water without a sound,
his lungs filling and filling with
fluid mystery after he reached
to embrace the moon’s reflection
and fell from the boat he knew better than to trust.

Make God smile.


free use photo boat



  1. Just stunning… so well written.


    1. Thank you kindly!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Fantactic! Novel thought.


    1. Thank you! And thank you for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. slukwago · · Reply

    I beg permission to echo all the lovely comments of those before me, Rafiki. With a little “Wow” from me.


    1. Permission granted. 🙂 Thank you, Rafiki.


  4. i’m smiling at your poetry
    along with God 🙂


    1. I could scarcely hope for a better response from finer folks.


  5. Robynne Black · · Reply

    Beautiful! ‘The helpless flutter of the butterfly’s remaining wing’… or the first flutter of your yet to be born child’s first kick.. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. And, yes to fluttering in its many iterations, and the feelings it evokes. 🙂


  6. The allusion to Li Po stopped my breath. The description is fittingly poignant complete with imagery loved by the Tang Dynasty bard.


    1. Hearing your appreciation for this aspect is sweet; thank you. I have only recently — and much belatedly — become familiar with Li Po and his rough contemporaries. The story of his death is marvelous, whether or not it is apocryphal.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We will never know. You may want to read Du Fu’s stunning poem Dreaming of Li Bai about his passing. I particularly love the version translated by Vikram Seth.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I just did as you suggested; thank you. It’s a beautiful piece; I am struck in reading several translations how much the translator’s sensibilities affect the felt sense of a work.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh my… you are a poet !! Food for thoughts. I really liked it 🙂


    1. I’m so glad. Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

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