Truth!, by Jacinto Luntian

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A poet and a wise man were addressing a crowd of their peers.

“I may not be a wise man,” The poet began,

“But I am a clever one, and I’ve come to learn many things–

To trust my loves, protect my hopes,

And to beware of men who would be kings.

I’ve taken up the gun and set it down again,

I’ve tasted war and found its flavor lacking,

I’ve felt the caress of wind and sea,

I’ve seen far-off lands and thought of home.”

The wise man nodded in assent.

The crowd of their peers silently stood in a line.

“I’ve had lessons taught to me,

Instructed through books and carved into my flesh.

I’ve learned how to learn, taught myself how to think,

How to question and ponder and doubt.

And yet, out of all of my learning,

Only now, standing here, do I know

The few precious Truths I’ve figured out.”

The wise man flicked his eyes back and forth nervously.

The crowd of peers listened attentively, but looked blank.

“These I say to you, for the first time!”

The poet shouted to his peers.

“I’ve played at prose and meter, but here,

Now, now I try my hand at speaking Truth!

The world is vast; the range of time yet vaster,

And no man may master more than a moment.

The past’s greatest kings are the present’s common rabble

And the greatest of conquests does not matter!

The founding of nations, so mighty and proud

Does not matter! Nations fade in time.

The conquest of lovers, of men and of women

Does not matter! All beauty goes to the grave.

The learning of knowledge–”

Here, his voice cracked,

“The learning of knowledge, of Truth,

Does not matter! All Truth is one day forgotten.”

The crowd of peers shook their heads invisibly.

The wise man thought of his family.

“What matters is our stories.”

The poet said simply, his passion somewhat spent.

“It does not matter what we did,

But what we did differently, how new and how strange.

It does not matter what we did,

But how well we did it, how deserving of praise.

It does not matter what we did,

But why we did it, or for whom.

For these are the pieces that make up our stories,

These are the Truths that matter.

Not to strangers or gods or kings, but to us,

For we write our own stories,

And in the end, we alone judge ourselves,

And any meaning in life—oh, now do I realize!

All meaning in life is decided

On whether or not,

We liked our own story.”

Smug and self-satisfied, and utterly unashamed, the poet stood tall.

The crowd of peers was moved, but looked blank.

The wise man wondered about heaven and hell.

“That was pretty good.”

The wise man said, deciding on hell.

“Although, I can’t help but think;

Maybe you should have thought of those wack epiphanies

Before we were in front of a firing squad.”

“Hindsight 20/20,” The poet sighed. “C’est la vie.”

The crowd of peers opened fire.

“I should probably think up some epiphanies.”

The poetically-minded executioner said.

“Y’know, before it’s too late.”

The wise executioner turned to his friend, and asked:

“Juan?”

“Yeah?” The poetically-minded executioner replied.

“Shut the fuck up.”

-Jacinto Luntian

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