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Oct 2010
Do my eyes fail me?
Is the light of the sun useless?
for though in daylight I have walked abroad
from the confined barrel I live in
away from the rats
away a while from the stray dogs
that congregate outside my hovel
that want a bit of my sack of carrots
and discarded meat
that I picked up from the market;
and though I walked often with firm steps and keen eyes
I did not see a man, a woman, a human worth their salt;
and so I walk now
(for perhaps my eyes do fail me
and the light of the sun and moon is perhaps an illusion)
and so I walk now with a lantern even in broad daylight
and still I do not see a man, a woman, a human worth their salt;
what I see are swirls of violence and greed and pettiness
and whorls of self-preoccupation and bigotry and ignorance
and narrowness
all encased in flesh and bones:
leave me Sirs and sweet-dressed and made-up Ladies
and Children corrupt in the World of Adult Fanfare;
leave me and let me go on my quest further afield
as far as the lantern will allow me
even in this bright day ruled by the sun
and ruined by you Sneering Living Beings;
leave me to wander as far to see if I cannot perhaps find a human
in some corner….a surprise as one might find
a gold coin in some dark corner….
And I so hope that today perhaps I shall find
the human this bright day
by the light of this lantern
and not like yesterday and all days before
search in vain till the lantern light dies
and crawl back to my hovel
not finding one free of these or at least sincere,
and so worthy of the name of human…
Diogenes (c.412BCE-323BCE), lantern in hand, walks out in broad daylight looking for a human being…and as in days past, he finds none.

The poem is based on the painting Diogenes looking for a man - attributed to JHW Tischbein
Raj Arumugam
Written by
Raj Arumugam  Australia
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