The Foolishness of Captivity

An Open Poem for Who the Shoe Fit

Copyright © 2011 by Alice Walker

Younger brother,
it is plain as day to those who love you
that you have fallen into the devil’s hands.
It can happen, all too easily, to good people;
look at Jesus: He fell and has kept falling
for over two thousand years;
that is how they keep him
pacified and pale and nailed
to that cross.

*

How to escape?

*

First, admit whose hands
you have fallen into:
admit how pleased you were
when you finally
arrived there.
Devils have limos and fine
china to offer;
carpeting made by elves
and all manner of sleek
hovercraft.
You were so poor!

*

Next, watch carefully
with one eye open
even while asleep
to discover
how much blood
your favorite devil is sucking
from you.

*

Listen, please, to the old women
in your life.
This same devil held them down
for eons
burning them with pleasure
for his devilish advancement,
any time he needed to.
But really they,
like the devil, himself,
appear to be
Indestructible;
though I could be wrong.

*

The point is: learn to hear something
besides your own voice.
It doesn’t seen to belong to youanymore. It is his.  It is hers.

*

I see, as you must,
the vampires
who have “succeeded”
playing the devil’s game.
They are all over the
talk shows now;
fresh blood absorbed,
beakers of it
from around the globe,
they have become plump
and disturbingly shiny.
Perhaps this bloated look
of satisfaction,
of hastily devoured “enemies
is one to which you aspire?
Like a Botox fix
though,
it isn’t lasting,  little brother,
I  can assure you.

*

Wake up!
Ruling the earth
is not the fun
it might have seemed.
How many butterflies
do you get to notice
on a regular basis
& write haiku
about?
And do you even know
where they’ve stashed
your kayak
and
your bike?

*

It is not too late
to transform!

*

Remember Milarepa?
The murderer who turned into a poet and a saint?
I like to.  He cures my every desire
to be perfect and never bad.
“Murderer.  Magician.  Saint.” That is how
among certain Buddhists
he is described.  There is a film about him
by a director from Bhutan.  You should watch it
to see how far you can fall
and still get back up. Though not back up
into the same location.  Please.

*

He too fell into the devil’s
hands.  Hands attached to his mother’s
grief, in his case,
and memories of his own mistreatment,
by greedy neighbors and selfish relatives, as a boy.
He was so angry,
he destroyed his whole village!
People he knew intimately. Which might be worse
than destroying a whole village
of people you don’t know;
a problem you could have.

*

Of course they were
terrorists
(who made his childhood hell)
but what of his own
soul, even so?

*

Whenever you wake up
and find yourself
in the devil’s hands
there is always something you can do:
usually it is the thing we think of first: so of course
we dismiss it right away!
You can jump out.
And that is my advice.

*

Jump
out quickly.  Take only your wife,
your children, your animals and other
kin.  Grab your umbrella, too,
and flee.
Trust me, there is no shame
in this.  Only sanity
and
soul preservation.
It’s a smart move.

*

Not everyone has the good sense
to resign
to quit the devil’s employment.
To see through the silky
carpet underfoot at
the Commander’s desk
to the dirt floor
beneath;
under which there are
so many buried things.

*

Besides,
working for the devil (temporarily)
is sometimes, curiously, a necessity
for future growth.
There can be, after many disasters,
a bit of progression!
Milarepa, again.
“Murderer. Magician. Saint.”

*

Listen:
Go to the forest.  Get lost there.  Find a shack to live in.  A hack that, like your soul, might need endless days and nights of repair. Let your hair grow out.  Your soul reviving, you’ll look great with locks!
In any case:
 Disappear
from the devil’s plantation;
let him harvest his own poisoned crops.
*
It’s just a job.  This charade called ruling.
A thankless one, at that.
There is life, so much life
beyond the stressful “glamour”
of the devil’s hands.

*

Or, Come to the caves
that open
to the wind
above the blue
and
ceaseless counsel of the sea.
Weren’t you born
within the sound
of deep water?

Some of us, coming back
from our own
lethal employments
can meet you there:
we can bring drums, guitars,
tambourines and  flutes.
A singing bowl!
We can bring backpacks filled
with medicine
and stories from the ancestors
about
how they escaped
from the foolishness
of captivity;
to make the long journey back
to peace;
to The Beloved
and to the soul.

My own definition of “the devil”:  In human affairs it is the force that operates without empathy.
Also:

“The Beloved”: whatever one feels as “God.”  

“Peace”: the fruit of justice done especially to the Self.

 “Soul” all that one has, ultimately, as guide and deliverer.

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