How many times can you set a fire in an open field and expect the vegetation to grow back?
How many times can you put a bullet in the same heart and expect it to repair itself?
How many miles do you have to dig toward the center of the Earth before you reach somewhere that is somewhat significant in the grand scheme of life that you think you understand?
In other words, how many failures do you have to endure, and how many mistakes do you have to make, before something relatively good comes about?
And how many questions about the same type of nonsense do you have to ask before you realize it is pointless?
For God’s sake, man, actions speak louder than words! So make a move. Start to dance. Burn the field. Pull the trigger on your heart! Just get the fucking wheel in motion. Even if it’s spinning in circled loops, at least it will be moving. Anything is better than the death that stagnation carries around attached to it. That awful, decayed smell of standing still and getting nowhere.
How many fruitless lives and stages of reincarnation do you have to go through until you finally reach Nirvana?
How many times do you have to lose and watch someone else win before you realize that their success is also yours, for we are all connected?
How many meaningless poems do you have to create before you figure out that metaphorical, allegorical, and illusionist literary styles just don’t cut it in the modern age?
How many songs do you have to sing before you come to understand that the music was dead long before Mr. McClain ate his American Pie?
How many relationships do you have to watch crumble into a heap on the dirty, mildewed floor before you find the girl that can actually clean up your messes before they’re even created?
How many drugs do you have to put into your veins before the chemical reaction reaches a point of critical shutdown and the factor of health is so far beyond control that a fix is not what you need, in one sense, and not even possible in another?
How many millions of lives have to die by the sword or the gun or the poison gas before humanity reaches an enlightened point of view that makes war obsolete?
How many corrupted leaders have to follow the ugly, distorted, decadent path of greed toward power before the average populace gets the courage to do something about the situation?
How many more thousands of years have to pass while society still follows the same outdated creeds and commandments before they realize that there are other, better, more peaceful, less wrathful ways of living?
How many times do you have to beat your head against the wall before a bloody red stain is smeared all over the bricks and someone is called in to clean up the mess to make it look like the event never took place?
How many missiles have to be fired in the name of Jihad before all the men have died of suicide?
How many recreational drug users (marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, pills) have to be put in jail, fined, and had their lives completely ruined before the laws are changed and our freedoms are truly allowed in a country that was created under the pledge of personal rights?
How many calculations have to go awry before the sacred geometrical equation of life is figured out and the patterns start to fall in place?
How many signs have to pass right before your eyes in dreams and during waking hours before you notice them, seize their advice, and get your life directed on the right course?
How many times must you reach a plateau only to purposefully fall back down to the bottom of the mountain just to remember what the pain felt like?
How many times do you have to bleed before you learn that it is best to keep all your vital fluids inside the body?
How many cycles do you have to repeat before you finally turn the spinning loop into a whirling funnel that is moving in a positive direction?
How many failed encounters must you have with beautiful women before you acknowledge the fact that it is your fault that they are driven away?
How many friends do you have to turn your back on before it is too late to ever return to them?
How far in the wrong direction will you travel before realizing that the opposite way was the path you wanted all along?
How many times do you have to battle chemical addictions before you finally overcome, evolve, progress, and win the war?
How many jobs do you have to work in a corporate, capitalistic, commercial environment before you return to your dedication of fighting against these same institutions?
How many days of hot red fire do you have to suffer through before you stabilize into a calm ocean blue aura?
How many stars have to fall from the sky, destroying the universe and turning the collective atmosphere into a chaotic fit, before some sort of order is established?
How many lovers will come and go and leave you as lonely as you have ever been before you find the one you’ve been searching for your entire life?
How many brutal accidents from clumsiness do you have to suffer from before you gain some stability and are able to maintain balance through the basic ordeals of life?
How many more days do you have to live with the constant pressure of having to change the world and reform society before you accept the fact that you can only do that which you are capable of on an individual basis?
How many sharks do you have to ward off before you see a dolphin?
How many letters of resignation must you pen before you laugh at the fact that you know it’s all a joke and you’ll never really quit?
How many of your heroes have to shoot themselves in the head in despair before you gain the courage to stand taller than they ever did during their weak-willed existence?
How many hurricanes of lies must you withstand before a calm, steady tide hits the shores in which you can bathe and come away clean?
How many disasters of unprecedented destruction have to use you as their fool before you learn the game and are able to make the right moves to put nature in checkmate?
How many sores must be tended to before the wounds finally heal?
How many abstractions and metaphors have to be dished out before the stuff is just called fairy-tales?
How many astronomical preludes have to revolve around the sun before it finally explodes and reveals our final fate?
How many electrical currents have to be sent out across the air waves of the vibrational collective consciousness before one is finally picked up and acted on?
How much longer can I keep this up before I fall over from exhaustion and lay down in a heap on the floor?
How many times can you repeat yourself before the process becomes a boring joke that no one gets, including yourself?
How many problems do you have to face before the same answers begin to swirl out of the sky and fall right in front of your eyes?
How many questions about life and death and pain and pleasure and growth and decay and chaos and order can be asked before they become meaningless?
How many silver sheets of stationary have to be covered with nonsense before it becomes a rational choice to actually speak words instead of just lacing them on paper?
How many crosses must one man carry before the burden becomes so great that he either falls down and succumbs to the weight or else just sheds them and shuns their meaning?
How many beatings must the children take from their perverted elders before they realize it is alright not to respect them or give a good Goddamn about what they say?
How many bruises must the apple on the tree sustain before it understands it was never really evil and so can fully bloom?
How many days will turn to night and back again before some new period of life begins?
How many difficult positions must one contort into before they either twist and fracture into shattered pieces or learn to straighten up and move onward?
How many humans will be involved in the process that will change the course of existence?
How many more hours until a Revolution reaches fruition?
How many more songs must we dance to before the Renaissance Festival commences?
How many more times must I learn that there is only one way to bring about massive change?
How many of this and that and the other?
How many minds must be changed before the circle is triangulated and the Phoenix Generation ascends to humanity’s furthest peak in history?
Oh, how many, Lord, how many?
Bio:Scott Thomas Outlar hosts the site 17Numa.wordpress.com where links to his published poetry, fiction, essays, interviews, books, and reviews can be found. His latest collections in 2016 include: Chaos Songs (Weasel Press) and Happy Hour Hallelujah (CTU Publishing). Scott is a member of The Southern Collective Experience; he also serves as an editor for The Blue Mountain Review, Walking Is Still Honest Press, Novelmasters, and The Peregrine Muse.