Unlike mere beasts, we are free to make choices,
or so we like to think: we may choose
to postpone a gourmet meal or a murder,
refuse to construct a shelter from the rain,
or carefully learn a worse way to build one.
We may draw certain pleasures from pain

or hang (for attention's sake) from a steel girder
thirty stories above the insect voices.
We may straddle the fence between differing views
or choose not to watch the evening news.

Can we foresee the future or re-live the hour,
choose whom to love, and fully erase
through strength of will an adored one's face?
Some choices, perhaps, are not in our power.

—William Ruleman

William Ruleman is an associate professor of English at Tennessee Wesleyan College. His poems have been published in Berkeley Poetry Review, Acumen, Envoi, Orbis, and many other journals.