Autumn, 2008

  • New Poets, New Poems

    Poetry reading before a blazing hearth.

    Fall is here and the leaves will soon be showing us their more flamboyant side, blazing reds and shimmering golds. We have a stellar selection of poets and poems for your reading pleasure. Pull that chair a little closer to the fire and settle in. We hope that your sensibilities are pleasurably touched.

  • Please enjoy a Christmas Poem from all of us at The Road Not Taken: a Journal of Formal Poetry

    For the Time Being: Advent III
    by W. H. Auden

    Alone, alone, about a dreadful wood
    Of conscious evil runs a lost mankind.
    Dreading to find its Father lest it find
    The Goodness it has dreaded is not good:
    Alone, alone, about our dreadful wood.

    Where is that Law for which we broke our own,
    Where now that Justice for which Flesh resigned
    Her hereditary right to passion, Mind
    His will to absolute power? Gone. Gone.
    Where is that Law for which we broke our own?

    The Pilgrim Way has led to the Abyss.
    Was it to meet such grinning evidence
    We left our richly odoured ignorance?
    Was the triumphant answer to be this?
    The Pilgrim Way has led to the Abyss.

    We who must die demand a miracle.
    How could the Eternal do a temporal act,
    The infinite become a finite fact?
    Nothing can save us that is possible:
    We who must die demand a miracle.

    —The Miracle has come to be. We are no longer alone. Merry Christmas.

  • Call for Submissions

    Would you like to see your poems published here?

    We want to publish high quality formal, metric poetry. We are hoping to publish here online twice a year. If you have some work you’d like to see in this journal send it to: We will try to respond within a month. And thank you.

  • Juleigh Howard-Hobson

    First up is Juleigh Howard-Hobson, who hails from Portland, Oregon. Juleigh presents two sonnets and one sestina. She writes of her own work:

    My poetry has appeared in Umbrella, The Barefoot Muse, Worm, Contemporary Rhyme, Snakeskin, The Quarterly Journal of Food and Car Poems, Shit Creek Review, Mezzo Cammin, The Hypertexts, Odin's Gift, Shatter Colors Literary Review, Orb, Lucid Rhythms, Appalling Limericks, Arabesques Print Review, Strong Verse, Hex, Workers Write, 2008 Poets' Guide To New Hampshire (NH State Poetry Society), VerseWeavers (Oregon State Poetry Society), Silver Boomers Anthology (SB Publications), Mobius: the 25th Anniversary Issue, Bumbershoot, The Chimaera, Fourteen Sonnet Magazine, The Raintown Review... and a few other places besides.

    I am the editor of The Runestone Journal, and have one chapbook, Sommer and Other Poems, put out through RavensHalla Arts, Portland.

    I've won the prestigious Australian Returned Serviceman's League's ANZAC Day Award for poetry. I was a finalist for the 2006 Morton Marr Poetry Prize, won second place in the Formal Poetry section of the Illinois State Poetry Society 2006 Contest, and fetched third (Shakespearian Sonnet category) in the Oregon State Poetry Association's 2007 Spring contest. Poetry of mine has been nominated for "The Best of the Net 2007", and for The Pushcart Prize.As well, I just won the First Annual Torrington Library Poetry Contest.

    My poetry is forthcoming in Pemmican, Orb, Candelabrum, Soundzine, PanGaia, Hex, Hawk and Whippoorwill, Poems For Big Kids (McAlister), More Sweet Lemons: Writings With A Sicilian Accent (Legas), and Poem, Revised: 54 Poems, Revisions, Discussions (Marion Street Press).

    Winter Rain, After Dark
    by Juleigh Howard-Hobson

    Now while the thin light, (barely light at all
    There’s more grey in it than white) that half illumes,
    Slowly recedes behind the grey of tall
    Winter clouds, a rain begins. A perfume
    Hinting of summer’s glories in this gloom
    Rises from the dank earth as each drop falls
    Sending forth scents of blossoms, and of leaves.
    Who has not seen such afternoons as these
    Slow lurch across the sky towards a night
    Which does not end the day? (There is no end
    To what never was, evening will descend
    Anon, with out much changing of the light).
    Yet in the dim half-lit bleakness, there wends
    Beauty: dark rains bring forth damp fragrance bright.

    by Juleigh Howard-Hobson

    The water from the automatic drip
    Hose is supposed to give the vegetables
    A steady stream to drink. But a small rip--
    A squirrel's thirsty bite, a sharp pebble,
    Perhaps, in just the wrong place—has become
    A fountainhead, shooting soft lashings of
    Water up and over the garden stems, and from
    Their end, small rivers have begun to carve
    Out wet meanderings through tomato stalks
    And strawberries like fingers through long hair.
    Swirling and curling past plant stakes, roots, rocks
    The errant brooks race and spread, unaware
    That they are frowned on, from a broken hose,
    And muddy up the order of the rows.

    In the Spring
    by Juleigh Howard-Hobson

    The old stump sits, heavy barked, with fat roots
    That ride up from the ground like some long backed
    School of serpents. Where it's been chopped, thin shoots
    With shiny skins rise up: thin fingers, tacked
    Upon a mighty hand, that sway and end
    Among their own selves. Everywhere on them

    Are small blooms, tiny leaves. Far under them
    The curtailed tree soaks up water through roots
    That once fed a giant. Now that thirst must end
    In sips that gently flow to flowers backed
    Not by huge branches but slight sticks grown tacked,
    Rangy, struggling to stay alive. Shoots

    All the more fragile because they are shoots
    Not shot from seed but from a stump. It's them
    Or nothing, though. Fragile or not, each tacked
    Twig is a final gasp and these thick roots
    Know. Once there was an orchard this tree backed.
    An orchard that ran all along the end

    Of the ridge to the river. The far end
    Was a pasture. And every year shoots
    Of new trees grew up from last years fruit. Backed
    By meadow and water, each one of them
    Had time to flower and to put down roots
    Before they were sold, using small signs tacked

    On rail fences: "Fruit trees for sale", or tacked
    Up in feed stores. That was before the end
    Of orchards and farms around here. The roots
    Of that life are dug up. A highway shoots
    Though where the old farm roads were. All of them,
    All the farms, all the old places that backed

    Their fields to each other. Gone. None were backed
    By money for higher taxes when-- tacked
    Along the highways--came progress. To them,
    Of course, it wasn't progress. It meant "end":
    Their end. New developments, not new shoots,
    Would sprout in their meadows, disturbing roots.

    This land's backed up with houses, end to end,
    Each tacked to a yard where old stumps send shoots
    In spring, fed by roots still attached to them.

  • John Byrne

    Our next offering is from the pen of John Byrne of Albany, Oregon. John writes:

    I write short stories and formal verse, some of which has most recently appeared in Umbrella Journal and Autumn Sky (No. 10).

    School Murals
    by John Byrne

    The paintings weren’t much: the zebras looked
    A lot like dogs, although the rainbows in
    Their eyes were startling; the jungles took
    A leap of faith to see; the monkeys’ grins:

    Ungodly huge; the birds: too bright, too small
    And other animals more dashing than
    Precise. The paper: cheap. The paints were all
    From dollar stores. Unframed and saggy when

    They lined the empty walls and every kid
    Who didn’t know her Rubens from her Klee
    Would shout and point at animals she did
    Which made the halls a bit disorderly

    So wall to trash they went as they deserved
    And thereby walls and order were preserved.

    Platonic Love
    by John Byrne

    Platonic? Sure, of course, no problem there.
    Our situation calls for special care
    And I’m an adult, right?, and always in
    Control, I think, at least, I think I can

    Restrain my heart and hands and wear loose clothes
    And feign indifference so no one knows
    And if I blush and stammer when you’re near,
    I’ll claim my allergies are bad this year.

    And when the others complement your looks,
    I’ll sigh, and say I’d rather speak of books.
    Oh, I’ll do fine, ignoring all your charms
    While exercise should occupy my arms.

    But all the time, remember it’s still true
    That Plato’d be unplatonic around you.

    Snow Geese
    by John Byrne

    From nothing – paper bare and pencils still
    Inside their case and hands in pockets deep
    Against the cold, we walked out toward the hills
    Which hold the marshes hosting birds that keep

    Honoring the rituals of spring. We tread
    Without a word when blizzard-like arose
    Wing clatter, honking, clouds of geese to shred
    Our silences, circling, settling as snows

    Again within the wonder, the surprise.
    You touched the page and lines became the sky,
    The hills, the reeds, the marsh which draws all eyes
    To where the waters leap as snow geese fly,

    White wings outstretched, black-tipped, a blur that beats
    As yet where curves and lines and shadows meet.

  • Don Thackrey

    We now present the poetry of Don Thackrey.

    Don Thackrey spent his formative years on farms and ranches in the Nebraska Sandhills. He now lives in Dexter, Michigan, where he is retired from teaching and administering at the University of Michigan. During his university career, he published prose, including a book on Emily Dickinson, but only recently began submitting verse for publication. His verse has appeared in The Raintown Review, Poet Lore, Blue Unicorn, The New Formalist, The Deronda Review, The Lyric, Slant, Lucid Rhythms, and other journals and anthologies.

    Prairie Life Memoir
    by Don Thackrey

    I searched for purpose till this farm found me,
    A land that once was Grandpa’s stern homestead,
    A section he proved up in eighty-three,
    Which Pa then built into a thriving spread.
    It’s mine today and soon will be my son’s.
    Then I’ll have time to spare, a chance to test
    My thoughts on farming, a life for simpletons,
    As subtle folks in cities might suggest.
    It’s simple, yes, to work outdoors all seasons,
    To show one’s children how to do a chore.
    And it’s quite simple also finding reasons
    To write in verse a prairie life memoir,
    A poet-farmer’s winter strategy,
    Like filling silos—not for cows but me.

    by Don Thackrey

    My prairie jottings are an exercise
    To gather kindling for the fire of mind,
    Ignite imagination, learn surprise,

    To train my eyes and ears so I can find
    Fresh ways of thought, new images of earth,
    To reexamine all I’ve praised, maligned,

    To bring me, through long labor, to rebirth,
    A man made new, who wrote some verses, laughed
    About them, but still thought some lines were worth

    The paper used to put them in a draft
    For working on as he improved his craft.

    Pa’s Poet Son
    by Don Thackrey

    The farm devoured our work, demanding more,
    Its appetite was never satisfied.
    Pa grimly faced the foe as if in war
    And ranged his seven children by his side.
    The oldest, I, was Pa’s four-star top gun
    Who led the seasons’ sorties in the field.
    The trouble: I’m the versifying son,
    And verse, Pa thought, lost out to corn in yield.
    When Pa would see me rest and sneak a peak
    At notebooks carried in my overalls,
    He’d sometimes sniff it might as well be Greek
    For all the sense I made with metered scrawls.
    Years later, when he gave my verse a nod,
    I was as struck as if I’d heard from God.

    Little Song
    by Don Thackrey

    I write my sonnets (“little songs,” you know)
    To celebrate the farming life, my calling,
    And praise the Lord for stock and crops we grow.
    Results this year, however, were appalling:
    The drought and hoppers stripped the corn and wheat,
    And Brucelosis hit the cattle herd.
    How can one sing in view of such defeat,
    Have heart to score a single note or word?
    Well, why not try? Let’s choose a minor key
    And add diminished sevenths here and there,
    Then modulate through changing harmony
    Into contentment and a hopeful prayer.
    My song’s discordant sounds are thus drawn toward
    A pianissimo C-major chord.

  • Kathryn Jacobs

    Our next contributer is Kathryn Jacobs, a Professor in Harvard University's Department of Literature and Languages.

    I am a poet and medievalist from Harvard with book of poetry (Advice Column) appearing at Finishing Line Press in November and an e-chapbook sponsored by Poetry Midwest (The Boy Who Loved Pigeons) appearing in the next few weeks (by invitation). I have also had over 65 poems accepted at various journals in the last year and a half, including New Formalist, Measure, Washington Literary Review, Acumen (UK), Pulse, Slant, Candelabrum (UK), DeCanto, Quantum Leap (UK), Mezzo Cammin, Deronda Review, The Same, Contemporary Rhyme, Ship of Fools, Eclectic Muse, Barefoot Muse, Mobius, Chimaera, Toasted Cheese, 14 by 14, Wordgathering and The Interpreter’s House (UK). I have also published a scholarly book on literary marriage contracts in the Middle Ages and Renaissance (University Press of Florida), and sixteen articles. I have two daughters; I lost my son; Ray died at 18 (2005).

    Lightning Strikes Twice…
    by Kathryn Jacobs

    What are the odds of lightning striking twice?
    No lower than before, if you’re the soul
    who made it through the first time. Ask the dice
    the risk of snake-eyes on the second roll,
    and if they alter, once you’ve thrown a pair.
    Although a prudent gambler ought to check:
    they might be loaded, or they’re not quite square.
    And you just might draw lightning -- you’re a wreck;

    there’s got to be a reason. Don’t ask me:
    maybe you’re ten feet tall and made of steel
    (all metaphors break down eventually).
    Just trust me: anytime you start to feel
    you’ve sacrificed enough to pay your dues
    and half the state besides – you’ve more to lose.

    Choosing Your Muse
    by Kathryn Jacobs

    You can’t expect too much. Your average muse
    is gifted, sure; an asset I’d commend
    to any poet. They have issues, though:
    they don’t work well with humans. Messages,
    inspired effluence—they’re great at that.
    Communication on the other hand...

    Well, what do you expect? They talk through dreams,
    which people garble – witness ‘Kubla Khan,’
    where Coleridge got a private symphony
    and could not sing a note – believe you me,
    that damsel with the dulcimer was pissed.
    You’d think they’d learn, when even Chaucer lost
    the grand finale of the ‘House of Fame’;
    but no. In fact, that’s issue number two:

    they don’t adapt. Afraid that’s up to you.
    So, skeptics: please suspend your disbelief.
    And moderns, flippant won’t go over well.
    Respect – remember, the relationship’s
    a chummy one. You have to like your muse,
    because you’ll find him popping up in bed.
    The gender, manners, personality –
    it’s all important. If you just can’t click
    then say so frankly: surrogates take time,
    but fake it, and it shows in every line:
    proceed with care. Good luck folks: do you your best.

    Soldiers at DFW Airport
    by Kathryn Jacobs

    A sprinting streak of khaki, blink-and-gone,
    amidst the clogged and multi-colored lines
    of stop-n-go in clusters. Nothing’s wrong.
    But for a moment, those of us confined
    by snap-on neon ribbon – lives on hold –
    were filled with secret envy. Camouflaged
    and crew-cut, straight-out, bolting: what their souls
    had seen no man could picture, much less judge --

    but not today, on furlough: footloose, free
    of baggage claims and bus stops. Not like us,
    who moved in fits and spurts, precariously --
    kicked into place like luggage, with a thrust,
    or nudged to death and fretted to the quick.
    They moved like nothing stopped them. Take your pick…

    by Kathryn Jacobs

    They look contagious: rust-pocks, blisters, sores.
    Like auto-leprosy; you’re scared to park
    too close, in case it’s catching. Yet that car
    strung out on safety pins and coaxed to work

    on bumpers tied with hope and chicken wire --
    somebody cares about that baby; cares
    enough to keep a basket-case-on-tires
    alive and puttering. His neighbors there

    are dent-and-switch constructions. Pop-on limbs:
    no shame, no blame: our no-tell swap ‘n’ shine
    makes accidents so easy. Frankenstein:
    composite made of corpse. Who cares for them

    is more than I can swear to. Still, I think
    it noteworthy that nobody loved Frank…

    After A Death
    by Kathryn Jacobs

    Just so you know, we’re bound to hold a grudge.
    Now, don’t go silent, like you’re all surprised --
    not when you know damn well you haven’t budged
    an inch on this one. If we’d been advised
    ahead of time…but no: we never got
    one syllable from you to put us wise.
    Bud, dying’s not allowed. Okay, that’s not
    contractual, but – damnit, all the guys
    are taking this one personal. I mean,
    one minute I’d have sworn you wouldn’t leave
    for anything; then suddenly...between
    the two of us, I’m willing to believe
    you had to go, but did it have to be
    so friggin final? You could email me….

  • Melissa Lamberton

    Melissa Lamberton is an Envrionmental Sciences and Creative Writing major at the University of Arizona. A native to Tucson, she wrote her first poem at the age of nine, and published for the first time in middle school. She holds a third-degree black belt and is the Education Coordinator for NASA's Phoenix Mars Mission.

    Return to Innisfree/For Yeats
    by Melissa Lamberton

    I will arise and go now, to search for Innisfree
    which lies almost out of hearing on the lake's long shore
    and the beans in wild blossom curl thickly round the tree
    welling sweet and sacred at its core.

    For I cannot find peace here, in dream or desperate rhyme
    though I seek the lisping lakeside where there breaks a brittle dawn
    in a sky vibrant with insects, while the leaves shake off their shine
    sheer rain so swiftly gone.

    If I could find my way there, by foot or simple shallop
    and trace the poet's footsteps—but he has disappeared in night

    no place prepared for his arriving, and the wind a bruising gallop:
    All's changed since once he chanted the green glen out of time
    and sang the chiming light.

  • Paul Stevens

    Paul Stevens has published verse and prose in a number of online journals, including Poemeleon, The Centrifugal Eye, CounterPunch, The New Formalist and Contemporary Sonnet, as well as in print. In penance for his many sins he edits The Chimaera Literary Miscellany and The Shit Creek Review. He serves as a selection panelist for the sonnet ezine 14by14.

    Map of Tasmania
    by Paul Stevens

    From a cloud, drawn
    to liquid trickle
    to ferned wet gully
    and rivulet's fall,

    I push through fen-sedge,
    and bracken, through rich
    forest-scent of fertility,
    deep moss on bole

    and boulder, down roiling
    white-water cataracts,
    Wineglass to Cradle,
    and all the way home,

    and all the way home:
    at last to sail free
    between southern capes
    thick with kelp and wild foam,

    with wave awash, surging,
    late sun on the headland,
    and shadow down valley
    past all memory.

    That Close Clinch
    by Paul Stevens

    "This is my own country"
    are words I cannot say -
    born there, raised here,
    owning and owned by neither;

    grown up severed
    from that close clinch
    with land, that the poets
    reckon so vital;

    a fugitive from place,
    at home in no weather.
    Here, too hot, the stones
    cracking dry; seasons

    disconnected, reversed,
    from the ancient festivals,
    sleigh bells tinkling
    in burning high summer.

    There, too close confined,
    the flat sky pressing
    flat down on my head -
    the millions locked

    in that huge electric grid
    of houses, estates, pubs;
    huddling sheltered in
    their tight interior world,

    packed together, sliding
    into the ice night of north.

  • Jean Syed

    And now we have two poems by Jean Syed, who did not tell where she hails from.

    I have been published in the St. Anthony Messenger, The Lyric, Writers' Haven Press, Bird Watcher's Digest and I have been broadcast locally.

    Backyard Doe
    by Jean Syed

    Suddenly, leaping leaves glitter gold light
    Betray your devastating raked debris.
    My tidy hillocks not quite hid from sight
    Your rooting wrecks your anonymity.
    Urgent as a burglar stuffing jewels
    Greedily into the guilty sack
    You show all nervousness. What danger fuels
    Your fright. Your looting stalls, your lips haul back,
    Pickings poking through white perfect teeth
    Undignify your statuesque alarm.
    O wild suburbs! The cat is hunting beneath
    Gunless trees. Sweet robber, fear no harm

    For you're preying on me in my backyard
    But I'm not a victim, I'm a bodyguard.

    Red Spread
    by Jean Syed

    Crested red cardinal
    And red breasted robin,
    Sanguine and cordial
    Fluttering as brethen,
    Caroling on a winter's day
    As if they'd never known decay.

    Red were the bushy twigs
    That they frolicked at.
    Above, the trees had sprigs
    Of berries red and fat,
    And on the black topped street, impressed,
    A squirrel dressed in his red vest.

  • Peter Austin

    We continue with two poems by Peter Austin, who is a Professor of English at Seneca College in Toronto, Canada.

    Over a hundred of my poems have been published, in magazines/anthologies in the USA (such as Iambs & Trochees, The New Formalist, Contemporary Sonnet, The Lyric and Lucid Rhythms), Canada, the UK and several other countries.

    by Peter Austin

    Flash of a bird’s bi-coloured wing.
    Passing, I hardly wondered what
    It was, till it began to sing.
    An eerie feeling, Gveret Lot,

    This being made to face about
    And freeze. ‘A cardinal’, I’d guessed,
    Striated by the dusk no doubt
    And robbed of its distinctive crest,

    But wasn’t that a thrush’s cry?
    Stopping mid-stride, I swiveled, heard
    A bar of Brahms’s ‘Lullaby’....
    My God – it was a mocking bird!

    Agog, I stood there, glued in place,
    Enraptured as Hippomenes
    When he beheld Atlanta ’s face
    As, with a virtuoso’s ease,

    It rattled through its repertoire
    From rusty hinge, through Berwick’s wren
    And whippoorwill, to burgled car
    And something from ‘Remember When’;

    Then, tiring of the popeyed gawk
    Of so uncool a devotee,
    It uttered a derisive squawk
    And promptly flew away.

    [Gveret is Hebrew for Mrs]

    by Peter Austin

    Something down my garden: what?
    A hummock in the snow –
    Bulky, hunched, of brownish black –
    A log? A boulder? No:

    Something living – birdlike, but
    As big as a raccoon,
    Rooted there, immovable
    As though from granite hewn.

    Scrambling into coat and boots
    With butterfingered haste,
    Inch by inch, I close with it,
    Unbreathing, poker-faced.

    Sudden, silent wingspread, as
    It soars above my head,
    Something in its talons, in
    The day-gloom ruby-red.

    Spellbound, I hallucinate
    The terror-stricken squawk;
    Bloodied feathers stain the snow –
    The altar of a hawk.

  • John Grey

    Our Fall issue continues with a poem by John Grey of Providence, Rhode Island, who writes of his work:

    I have been published recently in Agni, Worcester Review, South Carolina Review and The Pedestal. with work upcoming in Poetry East and REAL.

    by John Grey

    The brash invaders soon create
    Abundant blossom on each spike,
    Pink-lavender, no two alike,
    Leaves linear or lanceolate
    As native plants soon abdicate
    To stems so close, each hardy pike
    Stakes out its claim, forms dense green dike;
    What can't compete meets bloomless fate.

    For beauty's sake, we introduce
    The death knell of what's always been,
    A war of hues that knows no truce,
    The loosestrife overwhelms the scene,
    A bitter dream, well meant abuse,
    Beneath the wide wetlands serene.

  • Kimberly Sherman

    And now we present a poem by Kimberly Sherman who lives in southern California. She writes:

    Last December, I returned to writing poetry after a hiatus of twenty years. My work is not yet published. I hope you enjoy the poem.

    A word is due on the form of these poems. They are syllabic couplets. "Lazuli" has an unusual device: each line in the stanza is reduced by one syllable.

    by Kimberly Sherman

    The white ash and black ash did combine
    with the red clay to form a fine
    powder that billows and clouds.
    Sprockets chatt'ring out loud,
    our wheels kick up dust.
    coated in rust,
    we reach the

    to oaks, coyotes, lazuli bunting
    with breast of rust and turquoise wing.
    Across a stream in a lee
    my two wheels carry me,
    and as I roll by,
    edge of my eye,
    a blue flash,
    a dash.

    first to return after fire's destruction,
    herald of nature's reconstruction,
    (while yellow pines are gone for good,
    oak saplings work to make wood)
    and I saw you, lazuli.
    Through the graveyard you fly.
    nothing in nature
    seeks our nurture,
    least of all
    her fall.

  • C. B. Anderson

    A late arrival has been added to this edition for your late autumn and winter reading pleasure.

    C.B. Anderson was the longtime gardener for the PBS television series, "The Victory Garden." His poems have appeared in numerous print and electronic journals, most recently Blue Unicorn, Nassau Review, Innisfree and Lucid Rhythms. His e-chapbook, A Walk in the Dark, is posted on the website of The New Formalist Press.

    Vin Ordinaire
    by C. B. Anderson

    A bottle of red wine improves with age,
    Unlike the many holy manuscripts
    Unable to inform or to engage
    Imagination from the musty crypts

    They molder in. On simple faith and hope
    Our ideology is based: we trust
    That God is not some twisted misanthrope,
    But someone who will always do what must

    Be done in order that we may secure
    Expected blessings. Therefore, we will drink
    The wine -- a lot of it -- while still unsure
    What lines we toed or crossed, or what to think

    Of balances we've yet to pay. O Lord,
    Protect us from new debts we can't afford.

    Moving Targets
    by C. B. Anderson

    Sheer purity of purpose is a notion
    so poorly framed that good examples are
    as rare as toes on snakes -- a cure-all potion
    for every known disease is not as far-

    fetched. Though they're always ready to endorse
    free access to ideas, open minds
    must guard against opinions backed by force
    and when they see them coming shut the blinds.

    Equality is not the greatest good
    if every thought is likened to the next,
    with false interpretations understood
    as valid readings of a sacred text.

    On several points we should agree: There's not
    a woman or a man born in this world
    who knows the future or can even plot
    the hour at hand; no flag has been unfurled

    in any war in any land that cheats
    the risk of failure; few things are as sure
    as how unstudied history repeats
    itself; for ignorance there's one good cure,

    and that consists of critical self-knowledge
    like nothing we were ever taught in college.