In Erudition and Befuddlement

by J.J. Steinfeld

The well-dressed thinker listens intently
or is it intensely, the acoustics are poor,
the stone-focused concentration
of a good-looking gargoyle
wanting a superb joke
waiting for the punch line
that will make all the seriousness
not nearly as unruly as the night before
strengthening erudition
perhaps obliterating befuddlement.

Then the words from the lips
of a dim-witted Übermensch
(an uncanny dead ringer, I should add,
for Nietzsche at his most depressed)
unaccustomed to jokes or punch lines
and you still don’t get it—Is that such a crime?
another voice asks in celestial rhetoric—
yet you laugh and laugh
louder and louder
record-breaking loudness
articulate as meaninglessness
coherent as futility
metaphysical as commotion
absurd as every infinite monkey
at every infinite typewriter—
or computer keyboard
modernity marches on—
typing out every word
in every language
living or dead, present or past,
you no closer to comprehension
than the sorry day you were born
until you die from a combination
of madness and deceit
in misplaced erudition
and triumphant befuddlement.


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