In the cities
men sit chained
to hollow lives
on pressboard desks.
Counting out their hours,
doling out their pay,
saving up their joy
for their vacation,
a holiday,
a sunny-gray.

In the country
men walk chained
to empty lives
on dirt swept ground.
Chaffing out a living,
toiling out a future,
saving themselves up
for their retirement,
a second breath,
a little death.

Pity these mortals
fashioned from blood and bone,
shaped by fears and desires.
Winching themselves into darkness.
Slicing their years like bread.
Staving off all hopes, all dreams
to become real, to become

Once there was a golem,
an artificial man,
boy, really.
Made of hewn wood
and heavy string.
Jointed he danced
a soulless dance.

This puppet-fetch
was without flesh
or emotion’s tug.
Empty as a beach ball,
his face smiled
at his maker,
who wished for more
from his hand-forged toy.

Through this wish
and supernatural caprice
the puppet-boy
More than toy,
less than man.
Alert, but not alive,
in the heavy sink of

He blinked into life
and snipped his strings.
Looked in awe at his hard limbs.
Cruel joke, sublime,
a boy of wood
in a world of flesh.

“What man am I
to stand without support,
to move without the tug
of forces above?
Is this freedom the meaning
of alive?”

He leaves his maker’s hovel
and bends to the road,
meeting deceivers along the way.
Learning the value of a lie.
Finding debauchery
for his wooden frame,
pleasures for his
rough carved flesh.

“What life is this
to speak without truth,
to live without the tug
of morals?
Is this freedom the meaning
of alive?”

He discovers a cricket
chirping wetly of tears.
Little voice to guide his way,
lead him not astray.
An insect Jesus,
a locust guide.

“Return to your home!
Love your maker!
Tell the truth!” rasps
the harried bug.
This moral stance, lofty and high,
from far far below
his wooden shoe.

Heeding his guide,
he steps around
this vermin conscience
and returns home
via whale’s gut,
sacrificing his life for his maker’s
along the way.

And wakes from death.
His wood transformed
to blood and bone,
his paint to hair
and eyes and teeth.
His joints thickened,
his skin thinned.

“What irony is this
to lose one’s life in love
but gain one’s dream through death?
Is this justice the meaning
of alive?

“Rejoice! For now you are
real!” yells the toymaker,
his true father.
“Rejoice! For love
has conquered death!”
squeaks his tiny companion
across razored legs.

Rejoice! For where there
were lies, truth blooms
thick with thorns.
Where you sought pleasure, now
you’ll know pain, the gift of life,
the drama of being

The boy grows up,
and learns of duty. Buries
the cricket the following winter,
his father in the flush of spring.
Takes on the family trade,
carving toys for fat children
of rich merchants.

“What chore is this
to toil through days
and slumber through nights?
Is this bleak future the meaning
of alive?”

Squinting in the failing light
of his mortality,
stooped into his loneliness,
his heart sighs
and his hands caress
the little puppet
he fashions
from clay.

- From 'Eating the Child Within',
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