Maslow’s Tower


I don’t know how many of you are familiar with Abraham Maslow. Anyone who took General Psychology in college may recognize the name. In truth, I don’t know too much about him myself, only that he developed the hierarchy of needs model where he breaks down human needs into five categories, each built upon the other. This is often illustrated by a pyramid, or tower.


Our basic physical needs (food, shelter, etc.) are at the bottom, then safety, then the need for belonging (the need to love and be loved), then success or accomplishment. The final step is self-actualization, where we reach our full potential and are able to contribute to our world – to “contribute our verse,” as Robin Williams said in the movie Dead Poets Society.

In the following poem, I examine Maslow’s theory..

Maslow’s Tower

Attempting Maslow’s Tower
My SELF got in the way.
I stopped at love and be loved
And lingered half the day.

When I rose another tier
The climb became intense.
Doubt spiked me with a twisted thorn
Causing countenance to wince.

I tumbled down to level two
And there felt safe again,
But as I heard my belly cry
The floor went caving in.

Like Sisyphus in Hades
I try to reach the top,
But sins distract my best intent
And my stone of virtue drops.

I must cast aside this human good
Which seemeth right, I know.
It’s now the middle of the day
And I’ve nothing yet to show.

I think I’ll journey to that hill
That lies off in the east.
Seek shade beneath the tree there
And find a moment’s peace.

Later, I may rise again
To try the dreaded tower,
But for now my strength is gone
It’s time to rest an hour.


I lay beneath crossed branches
And dream of level five.
Oh, to be self-actualized
And sate this human drive.

If only I could stand aloft
Possessing all I want,
Imparting cosmic wisdom:
Behold, the great savant!

It is then the idea strikes me
That I may be deceived.
Perhaps this tower in the west
Is not to be believed.

I’m mindful of another tower
That men once tried to mount
Yet, in the end, their efforts
Did result in no account.

Just then, off in the distance
I hear a curdling cry,
And watch to see a body spinning
Downward through the sky.

Another soul on Maslow’s tower
Has reached the golden summit
And, with nothing left to live for,
Met its end in splendorous plummet.

© Harry Steven Ackley

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s