Plato’s Playdough

The poem below grapples with the widespread assumption that my generation is conceited and narcissistic. The call to emerge from Plato’s cave, which comes at the end of the poem, is directed to those who hold the belief proposed above and those it is applied to.


Plato’s Playdough

Eli Goldman

Standing tall and thin,
menacing and grim
its slinked figure swinging
erratically
like a claw
in an arcade game,
ready to dive into plush,
colored animals.

But instead of diving down
it pushes me forward,
throws them back.
Before long it’s moved me west and
so far east I start humming hare krishna
and playing sitar with my toes.

It swings me up and
drops me beneath the ground.
Suffocating and confused,
I claw and I dig.
Tearing through tree roots and
dreaming of green grass,
I sputter and I whir.

Reaching for air, I gargle and breathe in —
dirt. But I made it.
But some people it pushes down more,
to unknown depths beneath the floor.
So deep the carpenter begins to worry they’re
eating away at the building
like an insect, or a sore.

But just as there’s pesticides and blight,
there are problems we don’t fight.
Just mask them over with painters tape and
blindly play with oil paints…

Our world consists of
checks and balances but see,
they’re onto nike checks and new balances
in plain white ts.
So caught up in
nets in Brooklyn,
enduring rapture in Toronto
they never see what’s to be seen.

They pull receipts
from stone cold tombs – –
hold themselves together
with stitches and glue.
They are their own magnum opus.

Tallies of numbers and
coveted gold and
what phone do you have and
what’s that worth in bitcoin?
And what even is bitcoin?
But they don’t question.

Just smile and count their net worth
in Facebook likes.

They wear blinders thicker than a race horse,
run in circles
no right turns.
Start but never finish.
Like a wedding cake
they aim to impress – –

So perfectly put together
they need to get dirty
but won’t.
Too afraid of slipping a notch in your mind
they tape themselves up,
bandaged with Versace handkerchiefs
and twitter followers

Eating pad thai without knowing
Where Thailand is or,
Dawning a raincoat without knowing
what an awe they’re in,
while letting water droplets cascade and tumble down.
Why get wet?

The world they ignore is too vast
to explore,
so they zip up their peacoats
and wave at daddy’s money on the floor

because it’s easier than questioning
they pay no attention to their own reckoning.

So like Plato we bring them out from the cave,
Reshape their minds like playdough
and set them out with a sword.

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