The Religion Tree

Using the metaphor of a tree, in the following poem I try to boil down the essence of the human predicament (which I take to be suffering, change, and death) and the response of each major religion to it (including the atheist response). Let me know if you think the poem works (at whatever level you choose to address that question).



The leaf doesn’t fall far from the tree,

and we are all leaves on the same tree,

and will take our leave from there.


The yellow leaf signals fall, the

green leaf, pride before the fall. The

bud is born to fall. Death unites us all.


Better be the tree. Call your tree-self the

True Self. Don’t be the transient leaf self.

That’s the Hindu way to be.

You’ve always been the tree.


Hold on, Atman! You started as a bud.

Your green is turning yellow now.

Cell division moves to subtraction.

Detach before the fall.

This is Buddha’s call.


No! Live before you die!

This is the Nietzsche leaf talking.

Toss off all god-labels of leaf or tree.

Creatively be.


But what about the Tao?

How can a leaf ever really resist the wind?


And what about sin?

We’re hearing from the Jesus apple now.

Cursed is anyone who hangs from a tree.

I hung for you, drank, drooped, descended,

left a seed. Behold the True Tree!

Contra Buddha, cling to Me!


But what about Jerusalem?

(Insert Muslim or Jew here.)

This is our branch and we are its leaves.

So it is written in our leaves.

God gave us the Temple Mount.

All others must go from here and I AM.


Poem by Santi Tafarella, 2011

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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