You’ll Note the Absence of a Title

I wrote the first iteration of this poem, Independent Thought, about two years ago. My flagging memory makes it impossible for me to know exactly what prompted me to write it, but I could hazard one hundred guesses and they would all be wrong and perfectly correct. Everything around me—every experience, every lost opportunity, every hard lesson, every glorious moment of good fortune—becomes a trigger for prose or poetry. When everything in my little sphere of thought is intertwined, I get the urge to revisit what I’ve written and to update it to reflect what I think is my current thinking; but it may just be my current confusion, disguised as thought.

This poem is the personification of bitterness and anger. Despite that undisputable fact, I am not bitter and angry this morning. I am, instead, resigned to the fact that I do not control the world; I know I should have the absolute control that would give me comfort and would improve the lot of humanity. But I don’t and I won’t, so getting over it is urgently important. Getting over it requires humility and an overriding sense of superiority. I’m nothing, except not conflicted.  And, so, here is my thinking of two years ago, recast to reflect my current state of mind.

Independent Thought, Revised and Reconsidered

Their independent thoughts
are mass-produced by
idea merchants whose
currency is artificial
intellectual superiority,
unmarred by exposure
to cerebral depth.

They pat themselves on the
back as they recite popular
mantras fed to them by their tribe of
like-minded merchants,
attacking those with whom
they claim to disagree.
They don’t know why they
disagree; only that they do.
It’s popular behavior
within their tribe.

They claim the mantra as
their own creation, yet they
recite it like the Pledge of Submissive
Docility, degrading
others whose only crime—
unlike their own
intellectual plagiarism—
is independent thought.


It’s interesting that I think of “them” as having a tribe when that’s precisely what I want. A tribe that embraces one another through the good times and bad. A tribe whose affections are unshakeable and who its members can rely on the others to always have their backs. A family unit similar to, but stronger than, the one that held us all together as children. A permanent, unbreakable unit that is as dependable as the sunrise. A unit unfettered with self-consciousness embarrassment or fear or bravado.

Ach, that’s a fantasy, just like all the rest. Fantasies are a dime a dozen.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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Please talk to me about what I've written. I get lonely when I'm the only one saying anything.

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