I am cruelty, cruelty am I
Bestow on me the might of gods
I’ll pour out terrors from the sky

Morals and justice I shall rot
With gold from Mammon’s treasury
For I’m avarice, avarice am I

My soul, of Adamantine stock,
Shall champion dogmas’ rivalry
And pervade discord with my lies

Intrigue my mind with gory plots
O Muses of the Heavenly
For I’m treachery, treachery am I

With arms of Ares vastly forged,
I’ll lavish the land with misery
As flesh and bullets roar and fly

On all Creation my havoc’s wrought
Long live O pride and enmity
Till rivers of blood should e’er run dry
I am human, human am I


Colin Lee


Through the anti-heroic narrative, unleashed by poetic deviation and near-rhyming, this mock-villanelle sums up my ruminations on the recent events of horrendous violence and tribulation.

Photo Courtesy: phlmetropolis.com

32 thoughts on “Hamartia

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    1. Thanks, Imelda. It’s a lot of hidden anger, I admit. And each and every one of us is just as fallible as any human can be, regardless of culture, religion, age, class, education … which frustrates me but challenges me to embrace who we are with courage and grace. It takes both forgiveness and resolution to move forward, without any wishful thinking that the future will be much brighter than our history has been.


  1. I totally agree. As Lady Nyo (Jane) said in her poem, it is our choice if we take the high road or the low one. Unfortunately, it seems folks in the wide world are taking the low world and those of us in this small community of people who care, are left to pick up the pieces. Excellent work.

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    1. Thank you Toni sensei. I read her poem this morning. Marvellous indeed. Let’s press on, not as babbling wordsmiths, but as messengers of hope. Never in history has the high road been more difficulty accessed. But, in good faith, we’ll carry on. Persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We’ll carry on.


    1. Thank you, Sarah. Hope it doesn’t come across as finger-pointing, but rather … let him who is without sin cast the first stone. We are all responsible for our collective humanity — whether to propagate love or hatred into the future. 🙂


    1. The “almost” must be measured in galatic scale, I’m afraid. You’re too terribly kind, Jane. I nearly had a heart attack from your generous remark. Thank you!


      1. Thank you, Jane. I can’t agree more. To me, conviction and candour, the poetic intent, or “the words [that] come over”, speak louder than the vessel, the poetic attempt. All poetic giants are great, but only those that have raptured one from their holy of holies would lead one to into that transcendental joy — so much so everyone always has their own favourites and those greats which they don’t really get. As one writing in a second language and untrained in literature whatsoever, I’m constantly humbled by the vastness of the art. I suppose it’s this belief of staying true to the inner voice which has compelled me with boldness to keep writing and sharing (and learning). Thank you for what you said, Jane. It means the world to me.


      2. No, you’re right. I owed it to a few amazing teachers to set me on the right path early on with my grammar and my affinity with dictionaries. But I didn’t become a daily user of the language until after turning 18, when I began my tertiary education in the States. Years later, I married a native speaker, and apparently our love letters and arguments are exchanged in English … so, here I am!

        I still write in Chinese, mostly essays in a rather private circulation, since poetry is hardly practised and appreciated. Not to mention we aren’t living in a free country — not even in Hong Kong in her now post-colonial transition. Therefore, I’d rather speak my mind in the big, global pub … because, as you said, even my marrow is bursting out with poetry!


    1. Thank you, nosaint. There aren’t a lot of causes to violence, if we break them down. Yet over thousands of years, we’re all trapped within their influence or consequences. I suppose, humanity is itself an epic battle.

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  2. I like the way this poem is crafted. Your poetic voice is strong and — not angry, like you said you were when you wrote this, but — victorious, imperious, celebratory. Now, as for the comments: I disagree that we need more humanity, because humanity is exactly the baggage this poem decries. I’m not saying we need inhumanity, because that’s not the true opposite of humanity. What we need is super-humanity. I’ll leave that statement open….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Charley. Always a delight to pick up your comments. The path is obvious to anyone who bears a conscience — as you said, the attainment of supernaturality. How to arrive and be maintained at it nevertheless remains a greatest mystery of life … and ironically became the sources of most “dogmatic rivalry” which turned violent. So, I agree with you … None of us can close the statement. We can’t.

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  3. This is superb. The form though derived from a villanelle takes on more power and is enriched by the subject matter. The poem rises up in the center of those who care and makes us more determined to resist, to carry on. You capture emotion but from its center this poem pulls into focus that which can allow mankind to overcome. And in every instance where we have, it’s been through co-operation, dedication, and a willingness to sacrifice for the good of all. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I’m amazed by your perception and depth. It’s an indescribable joy to be understood so clearly — even more than I do with my own feelings, may I say. I’m speechless. Wow. Thank YOU.


    1. You’re right, Frank. Thanks for pointing that out. The take-home point of my poem, albeit its intentional anti-heroicism, isn’t our obvious vices and despair. Somewhat like which Charley and I touched on, it’s the yearning for this “more”, this super-humanity, of the supernatural man. On the other hand, regardless of our hope and our greatest optimism, the struggle in which we “learn and do better” will nevertheless remain part of our human experience, so long as bloodshed exists in no less than a trickle.

      Liked by 1 person

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