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About this Poem 

"I have a companion poem in The Sophist (1987) called 'Why I Am Not a Christian' (taking my title from Bertrand Russell’s book of the same name), which has two lines echoed in this poem: 'You always throw it down/ but you never pick it up?' Then in Girly Man (2007) I have a poem from 1988 called 'Why I Don’t Meditate': 'Mental health is probably overrated—a little anxiety/ is a great source/ for poetic composition & besides I prefer sitting/ on chairs with heavy cushions & a footstool/ if at all possible'—a poem both sophistical and sincere (a favorite combination).
My concern is more What is false? than What is truth?
All true poetry comes from deep fear, immobility, timidity. (I love Walter Benjamin’s essay on Hölderlin’s timidity.) This is our common ground, our temporal consanguinity (blood ties).
Reality is not kind.
I’d tell you in an instant, if I could."

—Charles Bernstein

Why I Am Not a Buddhist

Charles Bernstein, 1960

Reality cons me as it spur(n)s me.
This is the road to eternal
Consanguinity, eloping with
Hope and leaving me to pick
Up the proverbial bag.
But that's the argument for.

Copyright © 2013 by Charles Bernstein. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on June 25, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Charles Bernstein

Charles Bernstein

Charles Bernstein was born in New York City in 1950. He received

by this poet



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           for Norman Fischer

A commercial with no pitch.
A beach without sand.
A lover without a love.
A surface without an exterior.
A touch without a hand.
A protest without a cause.
A well without a bottom.
A sting without a bite.
A scream without a mouth.


          Count these number of things you call mine. This is the distance between
          you and enlightenment
                    —Swami Satchidananda.

                        (for Jenny)

my pillow

my shirt

my house

my supper

my tooth

my money

my kite

my job

my bagel