Humanist Voices in Verse: “A Storm in a Teacup”

This week’s poem is by Neil Doherty. He is an economist and professor emeritus from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He has recently moved cross-country to Bainbridge Island, Washington, where he indulges his passion for poetry, hiking, and a 1951 Morris Minor car.

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A Storm in a Teacup

I modestly say, though I seek no applause,
that solving the riddle of ultimate cause,
was made in a flash in my house down in Cam
while drinking my morning-time cup of Assam.

That first cup of tea in the murk of the dawn
—the stirring of life and the breath of the morn—
like goddess of daytime, Hemera, I’d sup
my tea from a bone china Staffordshire cup.

‘Twas then that I had, in a flash of perception,
a clear understanding of cosmic conception—
as the germ of the day is that leafy libation,
that bone china cup is the clay of creation.

With blessing of insight, comes duty to plug—
“the universe made by a Staffordshire mug!”
But credible cause is in how you construe it
on Was it existing?  and How did it do it?

I’ll prove my conjecture as far as I can—
so first, on existence, I drink so I am,
and if I am “being,” you cannot eclipse
the truth of the teacup that touches my lips.

The slop of my theory is starting to curdle—
while teacups are “being”, the “how” is the hurdle.
If a cup had created this cosmical brew,
then how it did do it—I haven’t a clue.

You say that God is creator and truth,
but deftly defer on the burden of proof.
While long on the “verily,”  “saith” and “thou,”
you somehow are short on the “is” and the “how.”

Oh my tale of teacups is facile and spent,
on “is” and on “how,” it’s at fifty percent.
The yarn that I’m spinning is just a precursor—
in striking out double, your God-theory’s worser.