The Human Conditioner: An Open Letter from Sisyphus to Rumi

Dear Rumi,

there is something that happens in the cereal aisle – of every single

corner store, after hours – that i am pretty sure you are not aware of.

every item on the shelf proves that it is not, nor ever was, not even

a little bit

Illuminated. not for you, not for anybody else,

not really.

because under these circumstances,

there is something about spirituality that puts the self on trial.

as if the two were incompatible,

the self and actual awareness.

So let me explain something to you Rumi:

(and no, no Rumi, when I say the word ‘you’,

i do not mean a thousand universes.)

you see, after hours in a duane reade,

every item on the shelf becomes maximally delicious




every cereal wants to climb the mountain of your throat

to cascade the way it was meant to: numbed, in shreds, insolvent,

inside your bleeding black and blue gums.

just to prove suicide is the only important question

that should ever ‘be’ on that part of your tongue:

every separate item

‘risks his/her own authenticity,’ Dasein, despair

or anguish (which, for many of the more serious thinkers among us,

are more or less the same thing).

most people don’t know this, but in the cereal aisle, late at night,

you can almost see through the window of your non-existence, just as

cocoa puffs another fat one – cocoa is the High chief in the tribe (i

do mean high chief, Rumi)

fruity loops the side effects, shot-gunning every bit of smoke from

Cocoa’s trans-fat fructose-black lips

raisin brain becomes jealous, cheerios cheers in ‘bad faith,’ talking about

something called self-deception, how every tasty treat is really just a closet anti-semite, racist, misogynist pinko commie, and captain crunches every thing and non-thing, until he questions

even the prospect of milk or love, and

for like four straight hours becomes preoccupied with whether

tony the tiger is or is not, like, a singular figment of his imagination–

until opening time Rumi.


sometimes i would like for you to admit that you are wrong.


there are moments when i would like nothing more than for you to apply a dash of Human-

Conditioner to my scalp and work it into a lather

of something like stark-



when i say ‘my scalp,’ Rumi, i mean torpid mind-sucking insomnia,

crisis, something like spiritual bankruptcy reaching in the cereal

aisle of a duane reade after closing time.

When i say stark-empty, i mean for you to hear me twice

when i say lather, i mean lather.

i mean go. gently. always.

i mean now.

*This is a rough draft of a piece performed for Quiet Lightning and also published in Sparkle & Blink. Watch at your own peril…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s