Thursday, September 11, 2008


The Stupid Years

I could call these the middle years
or the stupid years, being merely factual
or very honest, knowing fears,
despair, and some shame over the actual;
and hope for dreams, not enough hope
to do more than help me cope
with the lifelong wars between kindness
and knowledge, vision and blindness,
desire and serenity, doubt and temerity.

The newspaper is full of gossip and facts,
one going by the other’s name;
standards are lax; there is no shame.

So often the culture is only a museum
of past things, and the self is such a museum
with the tributes and regrets adnauseum
nostalgia brings.

Bound not by common desire or custom,
blood, coin, skin, slang, sport, or physique,
your choices have made you unique—
and as we often love ourselves in others,
you have loved no one deeply.

What have been your comforts?
Walking in the woods; music; pets—a cat and dogs;
conversation; poetry; films; paintings; contemplation;
distance; an older person’s understanding; food;
sunlight; and the cool of evening, through which you walk.

And what of your anger, that danger?
Anger can be a fuel—or a poison.
Is it part of a tool, or does it
quicken inner rot under an indifferent sun?
Do you use it to get somewhere
or do you drink it in absence of other nourishment?

You try and you fail.
You fail and you learn.
You try to adopt new brothers
after your lessons—none are assured.

You try to interest others
in your obsessions; and they are bored.

If you think of your life as a failure,
what would that mean?
What have you tried to do—
learn, write, love, live?

You did not want to admire,
as much as be the one admired.
You did not want to desire,
as much as be the one desired:
you wanted to know yourself loved.

You want respect for your inner life,
which no one can see, only sense.
Could imagination bridge strife?

You realize you mourn dead
relationships—killed by your own
assessments—not because you miss those
but you regret your own wasted effort,
the effort to love them.

Do you want to be a little boy again,
to be taken care of as you should have been
when younger? Was that the reason
for the naked need, the hunger?

(Who will imagine the sublime’s
most difficult reality,
or know I was hungry when others did sup,
and while they were happy, knew misery?)
Will the witnesses to yesterday’s crimes
return to testify against me?
Who will believe I was set up,
baited and framed but also guilty
of something else,
always “something else”?

Are abstractions real insights,
torn from the smell, touch, and taste
of the practical? Are these true lights—
Is it wisdom or waste
if you cannot put it into practice?

Is mysticism the province of people
who want knowledge immediately
without having to work—to think—for it?
Religion? Religion is the crutch of crippled minds.

Others have named your freedoms.
Free speech—as long as you don’t use it.
Free thought—as long as you don’t loose it.
The only freedom you ever had
is the freedom you’ve given yourself.

And who, who are you now?

© (DG, September 2002)