Ode to Futility

Ode to Futility

Keshav Kannan

As do I—
What is cohesive?
Cohesion is a lie,
A lie we force ourselves to believe
To prevent ourselves from succumbing to
The anguish of losing control.

Lofty ideals, high-minded aspirations, and
intense infatuations,
all lead to disappointment.
In the moment, however,
all are beautiful.
The alluring saccharinity
of sentimentalism, of romanticism,
eventually leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth.
Passion is fickle;
even the sweetest of berries

The struggle to retain a tight grasp on
one’s principles, one’s morals, one’s integrity
is immediately forsaken, like a bawling child
abandoned at a doorstep
when the faintest hope of
commercial gain shows its grinning face.
Walls are constructed around the
conscience, to muffle its nagging voice.
And now, outside of the oppressive
jurisdiction of virtue,
one is free to pursue that which supposedly brings
Wealth brings not happiness, however,
not satisfaction, not security;
but rather a yearning for more,
a hunger that can only be sated in

Under the facade of fulfillment,
the guise of glee,
lies a hideous, depraved
face –
the face of fear, of ennui, of
endless craving.
No-one is truly content;
thus, everyone is content.
No-one is truly just;
thus, everyone is just.
Morality is inherently iniquitous,
passion inherently languorous.

And yet, what actually is morality?

You ask me about honor? about ethics?
about moral responsibility?
The woman,
mother of two,
begging on the street,
must believe in these, for
morality is what feeds her family.
(or perhaps fortunately),
morality is just that: a belief.
Why do we give?
We do not give out of
compassion, or
solicitude, or
these are just the masks we wear.
We give because it is the only cure,
the only antidote
for the ravaging, devastating
malady known as
Morality lets us sleep peacefully at night,
with the belief that we are
“good people”.
But we sleep on mattresses of ideals,
warming ourselves with blankets of self-righteousness,
resting our heads on pillows stuffed chock-full of
contrived principles,
never realizing (until far too late) that
beliefs do not make for a sturdy bed.

Although . . .
Almost nothing is eternal.
The ardor of greed is extinguished;
ennui cured.
The final strains of the siren song
fade into the quickly approaching night.
The conscience returns no matter
how deep it is banished.
The volatile phoenix that is passion
is engulfed in flame, and
reduced to ashes
to be reborn
another day.


Here, I must interject:

What is the Poet,
other than a parrot
atop the shoulder of the soul?
I cannot say whether the soul speaks the truth,
or whether it rambles from senility—
I simply document its words,
and photograph its fickle, contradictory
(gradually dwindling)
Why should you listen to me?
I am nothing new.
I am nothing original.

O hellish spirit!
O divine specter! how
Fastidiously live ye,
Here in this pastoral Elysium,
From humanity
So removed,
At the threshold where the rain begins,
Or perhaps,
Where it ceases.
A path, cobbled by
Hands unseen,
Shepherds (somewhat reluctantly)
To a grey cottage
(Nestled amongst the lush forestry),
built by
Gods disregarded;
A great cliff overlooks
The sea;
The waves, carrying with them an image,
A delicate reflection,
Of the dead heavens,
Gently caress a monstrous, jagged boulder,
Corroding it—
Each a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Low a mist hangs over this isle,
Pregnant with unspoken frustrations, carrying
Whispered messages of distant lands.
Free and yet imprisoned.
Why have we banished
That which we so idolize?
What is a lovely ideal from afar,
In actuality is a grotesque
I entreat you, Aphrodite, O great river of pulchritude! to
Answer me this:
How can this eternal beauty
Be so ephemeral?
Frozen in time,
The isle has not changed.
However, when the world a prison becomes,
crystalline waters turn to venom.

Once I chose to listen, I could not stop hearing

I tried to flee,

flee the constraints

with which the soul had shackled me

What of it?
To live here is to live in a prison,

surrounded by rough clones of one’s self,

until one finally ceases to exist.

Everyone will die.
I did not mean death…

And yet, it is still a form of death.

But why be free? why retain an “identity”?
So that one is not tempted to don the mask.

. . .
Beauty is superficial; it is a disguise. Why hide?

Why not?
To hide is the move of a coward.

But what is the use of being brave?
At last you understand.

And so, I succumbed to ennui.
I fully gave myself to the soul—what was the use of resisting?

All I will say is this:
The soul does not strive for goodness,
it does not strive for evil—
it only strives for significance.

we are all sisyphuses
struggling against
impossible odds
to roll the boulder we have been
cursed to push
for eternity
over the hill
we will never

we can never

stop pushing

even if it

kills us





It’s obvious we wear masks / transparent / We hide our iniquity / translucent / But our nature seeps through/ transient / So we pretend that’s the mask