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Poetry

But Thinking Makes It So

“Thinking leads to Hell. The way is wide…”

Author’s note: The first refrain is adapted from Hamlet 2.ii.; the second, from the Jewish prayer recited upon awakening from a nightmare. 

But Thinking Makes It So

“Nothing’s good or bad,” Prince Hamlet cried, 

    “But thinking makes it so.”

        All Eternal Babylon is blurred

            In the solvent of a single tear.

        Lord, I heard

            What You made me hear,

And I was terrified. 

 

Here’s a man who calls himself the bride,

    For thinking makes it so,

        Saying I must carefully reword 

            Wordless swathes of soul, and seem sincere.

        Lord, I heard

            What You made me hear,

And I was terrified. 

 

Thinking leads to Hell. The way is wide,

    For thinking makes it so. 

        Never think of it. To have inferred

            Anything means you’ve been thinking. Dear

        Lord, I heard

            What You made me hear,

And I was terrified. 

 

Single murder is a Genocide, 

    For thinking makes it so;

        Elegance is savage, and a third

            Global War is pregnant in a sneer.

        Lord, I heard

            What You made me hear,

And I was terrified. 

 

Jesus slays like love or cyanide,

    If thinking makes it so. 

        “Holy, you shall be!” becomes a slurred

            Malediction; “Go in peace,” a jeer.

        Lord, I heard

            What You made me hear,

And I was terrified. 

 

But the Truth’s a thing of steady stride.

    No thinking makes it so. 

        And Posterity will have preferred

            The Homebody to the Pioneer.

        Lord, I heard

            What You made me hear.

My Lord, be glorified. 

 

Men are men. Adore the rarified

    Thing thinking makes. It so

        Gladdens me. Abundance: Time, bestirred.

            Bach is good. And Proper Thought is clear.

        Lord, I heard

            What You made me hear.

My Lord, be glorified.

 

Jeffrey Burghauser is a teacher in Central Ohio. Educated in the United States and England, his poems and translations have appeared in The Agonist, Appalachian Journal, The Asses of Parnassus, Iceview, Lehrhaus, Montana Mouthful, New English Review (where he is a regular contributor), Quadrant, and The Showbear Family Circus. He is the author of Real Poems (2019), Still Telling What is Told (2020), and Understandings (2021). 

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