the tyranny of the urgent


"Just a moment,"

you tell your soul

as it tugs 

on your tattered shirt tail.


by the tyranny of the urgent

you sweep away 

its small, outstretched hand

like crumbs on a table.

"I have only a 



things to do,

and then I will listen

to what you have to say."

Each task carries with it

additional ones,

stowaways of secret responsibilities

that turn linear work 

into a labyrinth of labor.

Looking up at the clock 

above your desk,

time has managed

to accelerate 

in direct proportion

to your inefficiency.

Anger arises in tandem

with the desire to consume

as you push back 

in your chair,


to a fit of claustrophobia

and chronologically curated craving

for who knows what.

The lunch hour awaits.

When was the last time

you felt hunger?

Perfunctorily poking 

at your meal, 

you are not there,

and those bites of food

come and go

like anonymous strangers

passing by on their way 

to destinations unknown.

By the time your plastic fork

hits the empty recyclable container

you realize you've done it again.

Ever elusive,

the horizon of presence

is within sight

but bafflingly beyond

your reach today.

Settling into your chair

for the second half of the day,

you fall fast asleep

visited by visions

too terrible to name.

Suffice it to say,

in this dream-like state,

stripped of all 

you felt you needed,

you are left utterly

and completely



as if from a megaphone,

a voice booms,

"Wake up!"

So you do.

Unceremoniously, you pack your things

and walk outside.

The work you left behind

will be there when you return.

A quick phone call to distract

you from this unwanted journey

goes unanswered.

The home you called your own

welcomes you with a barrenness 

of biblical proportions.

Families within which

you once worked to

loosen the knots

of prospective disownership 

now turn that forgetful energy upon you.

Even your own children

speak in borrowed words 

far beyond their years,

unaware of their conscription

into another's relentless battles, 

ever projecting without

that which will not be faced within.

Alas, this was no dream at all.

As if remembering something

from long ago, you reach down

for the hand that once pulled at your shirt.

There is something far more urgent

requiring your attention now,

and you have the whole afternoon

to sit at its feet.

Krister White