In Praise of Helplessness


As if dogs who don’t run away are dumb or ill

or need therapists, if they could talk they would tell us


how every shock is a step to master the skill,

they could teach us the art of being wise,


the art of knowing what to overlook,

the genuine giving up of freedom fantasies,


they could teach us the philosophy of the letting go

of loved ones outside the fences, dogs who look docile


on a daily basis have mastered the art of digression,

they know it’s less a condensation than a loss,


 William James praised it as a progress, I mean isn’t it wise

 to digress into figments or songs or galaxies


and give up retrieving things after you cross?

Suppose you run away, I did it once, you get capsized


and trapped by the incursion of the waves around

empty boats, seaweeds inside your lungs enough to realise


it’s either breath or cough, to hell with the shore,

to hell with…for God’s sake just breathe and cough, breathe and cough!


The next day you behave and say ‘Morning’ to John from

 next door and listen to Radio 4 and settle for dying by average shocks,


 by knocks, by watching the torrent of ‘We visited you

 but you weren’t at home’ cards invading through the hole.


Shirin Teifouri