Three Wise Men Visit a Struggling Poet

by Tom Bajoras

Three wise men came to me.
The first one’s name was History.
He carried a thousand books,
in which everything was written that ever was.
And he read them all, every day,
searching for a truth that would set him free.
But until then, he is only as free
as the weight of a thousand books.

The second one’s name was Philosophy,
but if you asked his name,
he would say he doesn’t know.
And if you asked him why he came here,
he would say he doesn’t know.
And if you asked him what he does know,
he would say… well… you know what he would say.

The third one’s name was Mathematics.
He could tell you exactly how far
they had come from the vertices of the world.
He only believed in things that can be counted
and parallel lines spaced too close
for courage or love to crawl between.

Why have you come to me, a struggling fool,
living in a room as small as a manger?
When I saw you approaching,
I hoped for some wondrous news:
the end of all wars,
the discovery that I have a twin,
or at least a bottle of a decent wine.
History, philosophy, and mathematics—
I’m sure you’ve all helped the world,
but my problem today is a lack of words.

Your caravans of camels, your servants and singers—
These would be interesting to write about, I guess.
Or I could interview you, but
I don’t know anyone who speaks Babylonian.
Thank you for the gold,
but what I really wanted was some words.