a man finds himself in prison, languishing
behind iron bars; another man numbers his days
gloating, behind bars of gold. neither one is free.

in the world of black-and-white,
the trickster of appearances tells us
that one fate is to be feared, the other
envied; but look again, a little deeper,

a little further, beyond the phantom shadows
of our cave-like existence, beyond the dark
lens of mere perception, beyond the web of

lies that we tell ourselves, beyond the
whims of nature and the clouds of nurture,
to light the lamp of deathless Truth
and see, as if for the very first time;

and ask ourselves: what man is free, when he is
held in bondage? when he holds the keys
to his own freedom, but declines to use them?

some prisons are built for us; others, we fashion
for ourselves. some are made of iron, others of gold,
or flesh and blood, or something even more subtle--
the cherished ego--but a cage is always still a cage.

2002 by Metta Jon Maslow (4-4-02)