The Mirror


Over a hill, under a dream,
is a beehive you once passed
reflected in a lily pond.

You were a child,
about six,
and they sky ahead of you

protected you from the shadows
of your life to come.

The bees played, and you played,
and the honeysuckle-breeze
kissed your smooth face,

and you didn’t know such a thing
as happiness
because you were happiness itself.

Then an errant bee stung you,
at about eight,
and the sky rained tears,
and the honey tasted like wax.

You grew, and the shadows grew,
and the lily pond dried in your mind,

Then you worked your hive,
your life’s work,

the programs and the commands,
the lines and the rules,
the fears and the hesitations.

What did you become?
What was it?
Were you the bear or the bee?

And now, you’re near the end of it all,
sifting through the confusion
of the millions of life-reflected bits

of the mirror inside you – the one
that separated you from you,
the one whose image

you fell into love,
the one that set you off on
your long trip from the hill

and the lily pond
and the beehive
and the honeysuckle breeze.

Over the dream
is that stinger –
the bottom of
the lily pond fed on
it all these years.

Go there:

the stinger
was a bell
of waking,
a mugger’s knife
telling you

to let it all go,
to keep letting it all go,
to keep giving it away
like breaths and heartbeats,
telling you:

that you are not the bee
that you are not the bear

that you are
the happiness
reflected in the pond.

You always were.
The stinger just threw you,

and you startled yourself out of paradise.

It’s not too late:

the lily
and the bee
are dying for your return.

And the honeysuckle-breeze
longs to kiss
the shadowy creases

around your human eyes.

– Phil Baumann, a father to his son.

The Philosophers

The philosophers don’t aim for conclusive evidence.
They plough the endless lands where it can be found, or lost.

The philosophers don’t paint pictures of watery lilies.
They trudge their way toward the snowcaps.

The philosophers don’t carve love poems into the bark.
They dig beneath the roots to where the core burns, or dies.

The philosophers don’t prescribe the antidote to ignorance.
They underwrite the persistence of curiosity.


Favela Tweets

Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

Favela Tweets

Over the hill, the priest weeps.
Under the bridge, the foreman dies.
At the station, the lover leaves.

The millions march into mace.
The cameras whirl into dizzy aim.
The bloody stains cake and dry.

You can hear the blood beat.
You can feel the voices cry.
You can watch the horses cringe.

The sidelines are elegant.
The frontlines are shifting.
The storylines are corrupted.

The sparrow tweets a symbol
And a Call is Answered.

The Answer drops into the ears
of the mad crowd where it
resonates, fades and dies.

A child is born into a favela,
plays under the guava tree
and learns to listen to the breeze.

Phil Baumann