A Frightening Metaphysical Puzzle, by J. J. Steinfeld
“A Frightening Metaphysical Puzzle” was first published in Illumen (Vol. X, No. 1, Autumn 2013).
When confronted by the stranger
demanding answers or else
a fate worse than death
is it better to be philosophical or practical
honest or deceptive?
The stranger, I should add,
is unearthly and sinister
with a gunlike apparatus
you don’t recognize
but assume is as functional
as any worldly weapon.
The questions, of course,
strain your intellectual grasp
and lifetime of this-planet experience,
questions that even astute theologians
and proficient game-show contestants
would have difficulty with.
Trembling, you answer question
after question, adrenaline somehow
conjuring up knowledge and wisdom
stumble on the tenth one
a frightening metaphysical puzzle
and pray that the gunlike apparatus
Canadian writer J. J. Steinfeld lives on Prince Edward Island, where he is patiently waiting for Godot’s arrival and a phone call from Kafka. While waiting, he has published seventeen books, including Disturbing Identities (Stories, Ekstasis Editions), Should the Word Hell Be Capitalized? (Stories, Gaspereau Press), Would You Hide Me? (Stories, Gaspereau Press), Misshapenness (Poetry, Ekstasis Editions), Identity Dreams and Memory Sounds (Poetry, Ekstasis Editions), Madhouses in Heaven, Castles in Hell (Stories, Ekstasis Editions), and An Unauthorized Biography of Being (110 Short Fictions Hovering Between the Absurd and the Existential, Ekstasis Editions).