Never Outshine The Master1

After the Twelve Days of Poetry-mas I decided to tackle the 48 Laws of Power by Robert Green as a set of prompts. I’d never heard of them until some one posted a random law in their Tumblr feed. The plan is to post one of these prompted pieces a week on Thursdays.


This first law wasn’t easy, though several ideas popped up. I tackled it a couple of time before ending up with something.

Law 1: Never Outshine The Master 


it wasn’t as if I did it on purpose

I wasn’t looking to out do anyone

except perhaps myself

what’s the point being accomplished

if you have to always be mindful

of those who hold power over you

who become so defensive

that anyone else accomplishment

are threats


it wasn’t as if I did it on purpose

I just didn’t know well enough

to to keep that to myself

I should have said

‘aw shucks

I’m still catching up to you’


‘I owe it all to others

gifted teachers

result in good students’

nope I had to say


I’m amazed at myself too’


I didn’t reflect light back on them

my bad

them resentful

wielding their influence

to keep me in my place

to teach me a lesson

that no matter how good I think I am

I am nothing

until they say so

and they’ll never say

I outshine them



these are a couple of the false starts – I had to step out of the overtly first person to find the voice above that worked for me.


I out dressed

the feature poet

he nodded a hello

then proceeded to ignore me

his set was good

mine wasn’t better

but different

we see the world in different ways

use the language in different ways

his set was well received

applause books sold

my set was snapped

given stomps a few times

his was motivational political

important issues were addressed

mine was personal sexual

identity issues were addressed

previous to this reading

we had been friendly enough

moving in very different circles

that on such occasions

would intersect

he reputation was well supported

by his work

mine wasn’t really established

mainly because I didn’t give a fuck

about my reputation

we weren’t competing for anything more

that a bit of attention

at a reading

he could have all the grants

accolades he wanted

I just wanted to present



another false start:


it’s a tricky opportunity to maneuver

holding back

yet needing to step up to the plate

at the same time

not wanting to be a show off

while needing to establish one’s ability

not wanting to impress

to pull attention to oneself

to such a degree

that others are threatened

that the teacher is looking

to you for approval

rather than the other way around

the power shift is never productive

better to

let the facilitator hold the responsibility

keep the show off as quiet as possible

even though

every time I open my mouth

I seem to be showing off

if I don’t participate

I come off being silently judgmental


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