History's Funny

History is a funny thing to think about.

People say it’s cyclical in nature,

When I was young, I couldn’t figure it out.

But still, they all said it a lot.


Teachers, moms, bus drivers, scientists,

It seemed like everyone was in on it.

I told them, “yeah, sure I get the gist.”

But really, I never knew what it meant.

Now I’m older and things make more sense.

Well, things make less sense, but I know more.

Like how the universe and molecules are dense.

Or how people work together for themselves.


Maybe now I’ve become too cynical

Now that the history books are closed.

I scoff at things based on faith or a bible.

Instead, I sit thinking about history.


In my mind, it’s very different than faith.

It looks different, feels different. They’re different.

Completely different, save for the wraith.

A ghost telling the past, never being heard.


Both disciplines claim to build and build.

Building on top of what came before.

Then, in the present, we feel filled

With some satisfaction of knowledge.

We’re smug. That’s what we are.

Content with the fact that we have a map.

One telling us exactly how far

We must go to stay stuck in the past.

I feel like I get it now; history.  

It’s this perfect playbook for life.

And yet, the future stays a mystery.

It’s biblical, actually, how little we learn.

Both are just studies ending with a guess

About the big question, the one we all fear.

Why are we here and what happens next?

Why are we so curious, I wonder?

It’s funny, we’ve all been dead before.

Asleep or un-alive, stuck in nowhere

For eons; an eternity; maybe more.

Through history or faith, we’ll never learn.


Thanks for reading,

Dayton O’Donnell


In his Masterclass Billy Collins touches on a few fundamentals in poetry that were very helpful and easy to incorporate into my writing. I love his lectures as well as Masterclass in general and I highly recommend checking it out!