Monday, December 21, 2015

Poem of the Day: “Leaves” by John Hunt, MD

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “Leaves” by John Hunt, MD.  Dr. Hunt is a pediatrician, co-founder of Trusted Angels Foundation (a non-profit working in Liberia, West Africa), novelist (Assume the Physician, Higher Cause) and author of the recently published guide for parents, Your Child’s Asthma, a review of which may be found in Steves of Grass here:  He writes poetry because it exerts his brain thoroughly and it is his only form of calorie-burning exercise. 

John Hunt, MD

Tiny, fragile, we emerge into the nourishing light
Stretching to absorb what the world abundantly offers.
We are enlightened and thereby fed, 
And so warmth and illumination mature us beyond infancy.
We gain strength from the fires of intellectual combustion.
Then, in our self-actualizing quest, we self-immerse
In an atmosphere most conducive to our growth,
Even while others lie and try to starve us of our vital nutrients.

At some point we bloom, we blossom, we thrive.
As energy input and our perfectly-tuned metabolism find a nexus,
We are green still, and not yet wise. But the future is ours.
All that flows from us can be positive. If we are sound.
For we are creators. Or we can be.

Then the worms come.
Crawling along us as if we exist solely for them to feed on.
They insult us for being glorious,
While chewing on our veins, our tissues, our life blood.
Leeches. Looters. Eviscerating all that we are and could be.

We try to fight them off.
Some of us die, and the worms fall to the ground
To decay and desiccate. 
Which is what they always were: a decadent desert.
Upon us who survive, they nonetheless endow their legacy of emptiness
For we are weakened now. Swiss cheese.
Maybe that is what aging is.

After the trauma of being parasitized, we aren’t green anymore.
Now, some of us are yellow,
Cowering. Never to try again.
Some of us are red,
Furious at the world.

It’s the last time anyone will look at us.

All that’s left for us is the fall. 

Poets Notes:  “Leaves” is based on the falling leaves theme, a concept hardly new, but as I sat on my porch in Virginia watching the leaves fall, I realized why the theme recurs. It’s a good theme because of its nearly unlimited allegorical potential. In this case, autumn came along with presidential politics, and this year the politics is so outrageous, such a joke, an evil joke that my brain turned to the prophetic skills of Ayn Rand. Just as she predicted, we are being provided choices between fascism vs socialism vs morons.  Few of these folk are honorable humble statesmen.  The bumper sticker “Narcissistic Sociopath for President, 2016” is pretty darn apt.

“Leaves” is about the wonderful opportunity into which Americans are born. We have such amazing potential and resources with which to create value for other people, to supply the needs and wants of others. To be successful in free market capitalism requires people to compete as smartly as they can to supply for the needs of other people. The Free Unfettered Market is systemically sustainable motivation to every morning wake up with the full intent to help our fellow man.  

But there are looters who don’t care about creating value for other people. They are the narcissistic takers, feeding off the value that others create. Some of these worms (the cronies) have no delusions about their parasitism.  They use government as their tool to steal.  Others lie to themselves and believe that taking the production of one person by force and giving it to another (who they determine is more worthy) is some form of noble goodness, when indeed it is nothing but theft at the point of a gun. These worms, the parasites, destroy all the potential of the productive green leaves, and by so doing, destroy everything.

No presidential candidate is going to solve our problems, but each one of them is likely to make the problems worse in different ways.  Until the leaves utterly reject the worms, not through politics, but through culture, the future for this nation seems sadly too close to Ayn Rand’s predictions. Yet there are so many wonderful young leaves whom we should not allow to be suffocated!!! Maybe our job, what we can do to help our neighbors, is to get the cronies and narcissists out of their way.  

Editor’s Note:  Well, this one "got dark quick!" as my daughter would say.  I enjoy the hope and anticipation of the first part of the piece but appreciate the depression-inducing "turn" for the worse.  The autumn leaf conceit is hardly new, but Dr. Hunt employs it well and adds a certain freshness, and rottenness, to it. 

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