Chessboards Made of Wishes and Smoke

An afternoon sun walked in the blue of the cloudless sky.

We sat there together, quiet at the table, our hot drinks breathing upwards from their nests inside the coffee mugs.

I wanted to know, “why?”. Why should I care about the nature of “certainty”? What do the ghosts want, why do they rake my cheek with cold, raw fingerbones while I try to sleep, in the slow hours of the night, muttering in sotto voce things about knowledge and observation, things I barely understand even when I have the chance to fully to attend to them with a waking mind.

“They want you to tell their story, young and foolish as you are, they want you to speak for them,” mumbled my friend through fat aged lips, dark eyes glittering in the recesses of his wrinkles. “Listen to their moans, write them down on that pad of yours,” he said, tapping a yellow legal pad lying in front of me.

I looked at the pad, and imagined dictating a banshee’s wails, using lots of vowels and exclamation points.

The old man frowned. He unhooked his right forefinger from his coffee cup, grabbed the edge of the table with both hands, and leaned forward.

“Write their story down. You don’t want them to forget you again, like they did before, when you kept pulling the bedcovers over your head as they whispered to you at dawn?” Suddenly the old one looked almost afraid. He leaned back in his chair and put his hands on his lap, working the fingers against each other. “You can feel terrified. You can do whatever you want. But don’t go back to zombie land. You’ll regret it, and the wrong kind of emptiness will fill you with amnesia. Just write a little bit for them, and they’ll stop for a while. You’ll get enough peace to feel ready for when they visit again. They do care for you, after all, as much as their kind can.”

I tapped my capped pen against the yellow of the pad, thoughtfully.

The Ancient Way of Secrets

I feel a bit confused, and distracted.

Tattered epistemological ghosts cling to my shoulders, whisper in my ears, watch the moon rise with me, the silver glinting on my face, illuminating their ethereal rags and bones.


n : the philosophical theory of knowledge

May God save me from myself. Yet I smell it all around me, a war that rages, with human puppets. Gods and ghosts pull at the strung marionettes, jerking and tugging, and the humans kill, hate, drink, multiply and die, while the wild world watches.


What do I see through the shadows and fog?

Why does it matter, what the ghosts whisper in my ears, why does their weeping hammer at my heart?

“The search for knowledge will destroy us all, spirit and flesh,” they wail, “the search for certainty, will certainly seal our fate.”

I never knew ghosts to wring their hands over so much philosophy. Let me go…

But, at my protests, the light in their eyes only becomes more eager, more hungry. “No! This matters, no matter how much you misunderstand it. Listen well.”

Dead leaves skitter and scrap across the night pavement. Stars circle overhead. A car drives by, passengers hooting, celebrating.

The ghost’s voices, like audible moonlight, like cat’s breath, like the hiss of grass stirring in the breeze, they speak in my ear: “You who so long hungered for the right answer, for the immovable rock underfoot, know now that it lays forever sundered from you. Long ago, the pharoahs and kings created this notion, that the dancing spirits that animate the universe would ever remain the same from one moment to the next. They created this notion of the clockwork universe, of the father high above wagging the forefinger, so that your ancestors would bear the yoke unquestioningly. They wanted obedience, and even their descendants, the heirs of modern fortunes and power, have long since forgotten the truth, wrapped in the suffocating spell as much as the rest of us. They believe that the universe will stay, like a pet commanded to heel. But at any moment, you may remove the blindfold you’ve affixed to your own brow, and witness the wild riot around you, the dynamic liberty of a universe fully awake and alive.”

A long moment hushes by, as the night insects dance with each other, and my thoughts gather together, scattering and mixing.

“Free yourself from certainty. Walk open-eyed into a a living cosmos that flows and ebbs, surprised upon awaking to each new day. The sun may rise, and it may not; the miracle of the sunrise is neither guaranteed nor impossible, but rather a sliding infinite continuum between the two. Bless the impenetrable mystery with your innocent gaze. Like a child you will become, drinking deep of the emptiness that undermines answers.”

Besieged by the unknown will of the spectre’s exposition, I submit to the swirling debate. Born from darkness into light, with a solitary flickering light I plunge forward once again, back into darkness.