Confucius

by Eric Chaet

As I enter the diner
one of my neighbors finishes his coffee, & stands.

Jocularly, he asks: “Are you behavin’?”

Without calculation, I respond:
“Everybody behaves. The question is: How?”

My neighbor makes a sour face.

I’m jocular myself, sometimes.
I hope I will be again, from time to time.

Each of my neighbors
is an element in the periodic table
a curving constellation in the clearest night
an elementary particle, a cloud, a nation
an equation with an unknown
& if there’s a formula to solve it
I don’t know that formula.

Our times are, as usual, dangerous:
almost everyone’s expectations & hopes
are disappointed.
They incite one another with insults.
Weapons are plentiful.
Learning—except technically focused
for maximum return on effort—is scoffed at.

The weak as well as the strong
feel justified in grabbing what they can
without considering the effect on others
or even the consequences
in what remains of their own lives.

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仁 (consummate conduct) series

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