Unnaturally Long Attention Span

AvatarA blog about Grad School at Stanford, Working in a Silicon Valley Internet Company, and Statistical Machine Learning. mike AT ai.stanford.edu


This weekend, I came across an old tape backup of my old files. In the mass of outdated document formats, I came across some poems that I wrote back in high school, more than a decade ago. I'll start posting them here.


You may think me foolish, or rash,
As youth are prone to disregard the advice of elders.
You say, my wings have not hardened, that I am not ready to alight.
You warn me to hold a steady course, to keep to the middle.

But, I value adventure over safety.
I long for the exhiliration of the whistling winds beneath me and the freedom of unrestrained motion.
For the chance to soar among the eagles,
I would spit in the face of danger because I realize that many never attain such an opportunity.

No, Daedalus, old man, I prefer not to choose the middle path.
I long for this chance to steal divine insight.
You see, this is much more than a flight from this wretched place, it is an emancipation.

Look, Daedalus, watch how high I can soar!
Higher, and higher, and higher, as far as my breath can sustain me.
I will reach the sun. I will go beyond the sun, into the heavens, and escape from the pull of the Earth, which is humanity's bane.

But, what? Oh, no. It's seems my wings have deteriorated.
Cursed Apollo. They're playing a cruel prank on me.
Because they can't stand mortal intruders or boys with wings.

So, I fall.
Down into the violent, freezing waters below.

I will die soon.
However, you never even knew what life was.
Life is not measured in years, but in split-seconds.

It was worth it.


10:17 PM, February 19, 2009 Addie said...

I really enjoy this piece and was hoping you would give me permission to add it to a collection of modern interpretations of the Ovid Icarus tale for a class I am taking.



8:17 PM, February 28, 2009 Mike said...

Thanks Addie, glad that you liked it! You have my permission to include it.

11:53 PM, March 19, 2009 David Liu said...

Hey Mike, this is cool :)


11:47 PM, March 31, 2009 Sean Geber said...

Be careful allowing your work to be used.
If the work gets published in anthologies, and you try to publish it at a later date in your own book it is near impossible.

Simply posting your work on the internet is a danger. All creative writing teachers urge students to stay away from doing such.

4:51 AM, April 05, 2009 Anonymous said...


Which artist has reated the picture biy your poem?

4:53 AM, April 05, 2009 Anonymous said...


I wanted to know wich artist has made the picture by your poem.
I loved it, btw.