Beware the ones who say
I’ve read that
To every book you mention
Who always have a counterexample 
Or a riposte, who are never caught
Without a ready answer
And exist in a state of impermeable poise

Beware the ones who file away
Knowledge like munitions
Trapped in an intellectual arms race
Who consume to increase their power
Rather than to appreciate their ignorance
And cannot understand anything
That cannot be put into words

Beware the ones who read
To tick boxes on a list
Who aim to dominate with language
Rather than to have their hearts
Rent open and repaired again
Or to savour the simple pleasure
Of escaping into another’s mind

Note: I have met many of these people. It’s easy to feel intimidated by encyclopaedic knowledge, but now to me it mostly looks sad.

But this poem was written with equal intent as a warning to myself. Because I have also been that person.

Reading is not the same as understanding. And understanding is not the same as empathising. I just need a little reminder from time to time.

Photo by Laura Kapfer on Unsplash