Category Archives: Poetry

I AM WEARIED BY THIS WORLD

I am wearied by this world,
Its endless waves washing ashore
Day after weary day,
And filled as they are with the rubbish
Of what might have been fixed already—
Each filthy rush a testimony
To how few really care to make things right—
Or know how.

And who, seeing this, could not wish
For a better world?

And don’t we all,
In this way or that?

Yet no one can make it better for the wishing—
Nor even for the trying—
Except for that tiny part of the mess
That is his own—
That one part of it in eight billion
That he has created himself
By way of his own errors
In thought and decision
And belief and deed.

These he could set out to fix—
To do his part at ridding the world
Of the evils he himself has thrust upon it
In his days so far—
And in sparing the world of those he might have
Otherwise thrust upon it tomorrow—
To tidy up after himself
And to make amends
And to speak up for what is right
By having done what is right himself.

But who would choose such a course
When it is so much easier to fuss at the waves
As if he had no part in their filth himself?

Indeed! Who would be so just
As to refuse to discount
His own role in the mess
While raging at the wearisome whole of it?

Who would be so brilliant of heart
As to see what he owes to the cure—
And to make it so—
Even if the cluttered beach
Should look quite the same with his share
Of the trash removed?

Such a one would know that
He had done right,
Whether the others did likewise or not—
Whether they noticed or not.

And he would be the one most worthy
Of that better world for which we all wish
In some form or another—
And the one most apt to know how to build it,
If it had not been built already—
That great world in which everyone else is
Upright and kind and untwisted.

And upon going there,
He would surely witness
Among its myriad glories
That most somber occasion
Upon which the ordinary man
Would be sternly turned away,
Though having expected to be
Welcomed with open arms,
Yet never having figured out that
In a great world in which everyone else is
Upright and kind and untwisted,
There would naturally be no room for
One who was not.

And so they stand even now on this beach,
Bemoaning the rot of this world
As it pours in each day,
And wishing it removed by hands not their own—
Whether God’s or man’s, they do not really care—
And wishing for a world in which
The sad state of their own souls did not matter,
Just as they assume it does not really matter here.

And this is their idea of heaven.
And standing in this present filth,
They marvel at it and revel in the hope of their heaven,
While the one odd soul in the distance
Picks up his own trash.

And being one of the relatively few aspiring
To pollute this world no further
With what goes on in my mind,
It is hard not to be grow weary of the surf
From time to time, at least,
And to be disappointed
That so many seem so slow to catch on—
That so few projects bear the fruit it seems they could.

And I wonder whether I really understand myself—
Though I think I do—
That the key to fixing this world completely
Is not one key in the hand of a grand hero,
But eight billion keys in the hands of
Eight billion people who could
Learn this one-person lesson for themselves
If they wanted—
Each of their lives having been set here,
As was mine,
For their chance at learning the lesson
And moving on to the world
That was made for those who
Cared to find their keys
And give them a go.

This surf is the fruit of each of us
Making his go at the world,
With his mistakes and successes—
His victories and losses—
His rights and his wrongs.
And here we all stand with it lapping at our feet,
Sprinkled so much more with bad than good.

But do I begrudge my fellow man
The chance to make his errors
And to have his go at it
While on his own watch?
Do I resent the cost to me
Of his deficit in learning?—
As if I myself were not still
Making errors and learning as I go?
Do I resent him stepping on my toes
As he learns to walk straight?

Indeed, I am not yet done myself,
Though having got a good deal of it figured out,
Even still, I so quickly lose sight of my own remaining imperfection,
And assume the bulk of what ails me to be
The error of others.
And yes, they are still wrong in so many ways,
And life would indeed be better if they’d cut it out,
But am I not in this same crucible, too,
Set right alongside them and
Committing errors of the same general sort,
Having not yet become flawless myself?

It is tempting to think that if only
I were to become perfect in forgiveness,
I would no longer be wearied by this beach,
But I’m not so sure that’s true.
I think it’s supposed to be hard here, and that
The Heaven’s a haven of rest from it—
And of reward for having used the key we were given,
To do our best at doing right
And to wrestle with ourselves over it all
And to see where we fall short
And to learn the humility needed
To keep trying, rather than simply
To fold our arms and pout about it all.

And my, do we ever fall short, it seems!
But no, that’s not true, either,
For we do not always fail.
No, we do learn and overcome sometimes.
So there’s no rule to be found in our failure, either,
However tempting it may be to believe it—
And especially in such a great company with those who do
Believe that notion.

So it tires me to keep on this straight and narrow—
To turn away neither to the left, nor to the right—
Though there are so many opportunities
For such error.

And I wonder that there should be
Some plan in all this after all—
Some purpose for it, being worked
By the one who set us here for a time
So that we could see whether we would
Want to live in that Holy City
In his second world of two—
Or not—
And whether we should be fit for it—
Both of which questions may well be one and the same.

And in my wearier moments here,
I can take hope in the idea
That life doesn’t grow weary there,
And that this shall all have been
Well worth the trouble of learning and enduring
And overcoming.

These things I have read.


Safer Than They Think

Many of the people I know
Are safer than they think.
In one way or another,
They shy away from dangers
That are barely real —
If they are real at all—
Or from a past that can be
Neither present nor future
But with their help.

They tremble at the klaxon warning—
Not realizing that they themselves
Are the ones making it squawk.
They feel the foreboding trepidation,
Not realizing that they are the ones
Fanning into flame the dying embers of
What has gone before,
And fueling it anew with the imagination.

They have got themselves talked into
Not being free. Not being safe. Not being OK.

It’s only talk, of course.
A mere notion.
And its only power—
If it has any power at all—
Lies in the chance
That someone might pick the fear of a tiny thing
And believe it to be much more than it really is.

They fear, of course, that those fleeting feelings
Of embarrassment
Or of doom
Or of despair
Or of remorse
Are permanent and unbearable.
They have no idea that such things
Are only temporary and tolerable.
They have no idea that they can
Move past such things.

In believing hands, such fear becomes
The monster they think it is—
The very reason for their failures—
The bane of their existence—
The Nemesis who shall have
Robbed them by the end
Of much of what
They might have wished for
In their short lives.

Few have little idea that the gloriously simple
Defenses against it
Lie merely in refusing to adopt it,
And in being willing to endure
The unsettling feelings
Until it is all finally settled.

For those who can but
Refuse to believe it —
Who can stand the test—
It is done at their refusal of it.
It falls disarmed and lifeless
To the floor—
Where one may look at it
And ponder what all the fuss
Was ever about,
And regret that anyone should have ever
Spent so much time
Cowering at what as
But a shadow
Made of make-believe and difficult feelings.

Few realize that, upon deciding
What to believe about themselves
In the mundane matters of life,
They run such risk of being entrapped
In the simple habit of believing
What should have been rejected already—
What could have been rejected already—
What could be done away with once and for all.

They are safer than they think.
And when they figure this out—
And when they dare to believe it,
Pushing through the brief discomfort of it—
You will see them fly!

The Grandest Irony

Adolf Hitler

It is the grandest irony,
I think,
That Herr Hitler—
Wicked narcissist that he was—
Was eventually brought down by the decree
That all communiques of the Reich
Should bear the salute, “Heil Hitler”.

It was discovered to be the one thing
Every dispatch would have in common.
And that was the clue that proved sufficient
To decode them all.

That a mortal—
Any mortal—
Would consider his own praise a proper
Prime directive for his people
Is a monument to his twisted heart.
Who could be so deformed of mind?
So misconstructed and dastardly?

The Enigma Machine enabled Germany to encrypt and decrypt messages securely, until the system was cracked by their enemies.

Such hubris is a signal for those who recognize it—
A beacon in the darkness—
A lighthouse on the rocky shore.
Yet, so many see such narcissism without a clue
As to the dangers it signals—
With no idea of the things
That such tyrants tend to do—
Even as they “Heil!” their own Hitlers.

A typical Enigma intercept from the Bletchley Park operation in England. These messages were transmitted in Morse code as groups of five letters, which were easily intercepted — but were impossible to understand without sophisticated decryption. (Photo courtesy Dr. David Hamer)

They Come Together

They come together,
These people,
Each beautiful in their various ways,
Offering up their strengths
As gifts to us all—
Having received them
As gifts themselves.

One is the bearer of a grand fact,
And the other of a great skill.
One of a kind heart,
And his friend, of a keen diligence.
And they set them all in the center,
Where we may all make use of them freely.

And we do!

And what comes out is
Greater than what was put in.
And we are more than we were.
Together, we do what we could not have done.

And it changes us inside.
And we are better than we were—
Better for the give-and-take of it all.

Together we look forward.
And there is such kindness in it.
And how can this not be the way
The world was meant to be?

If You Could See

If you could see what I see,
You’d be all in.
You’d drop your hesitance
And shake off the inattention
And push yourself to do your best—
Which, as it turns out in this real world,
No one else can do for you.

If you could see what I see,
You’d be distracted from your inconfidence
By the beauty of what we’re doing here,
And you’d forget you had once been so insecure in yourself.
You’d lose sight of yourself—
And of whatever it is you are currently so certain
Is wrong with you—
And you’d see what it’s like
To be freed from oneself
In the pursuit of something worthy.

If you could see what I see,
You’d see that it is not about me,
Nor about you,
But about the fact that some things
Are just so right
And so beautiful
That they are worthy of our time
And our energies
And our attention,
And that what we are doing here
Is a good thing indeed.

And if I can manage to show you—
To inspire you—
Then we shall be partners in this,
As fellows on a trek to the same destination.
And you will find other partners, still.
And we’ll all have a share in this good thing
To which someone else once introduced me,
Having learned it himself from yet another.

And this thing about life is very good.

I Went Along With You

I went along with you to where
I did not know how to go myself.
And what seems the wonder of it all
Is that you did know—
That there are wondrous places and things that
One will not know already,
To which he can be guided by someone who already does.

And along the way, I did not know if the destination
Would be worth the journey.
But you already knew it was.
You knew it was worth it.
And so you helped me to make it there, too,
That I could see it for myself,
And take somebody else there someday—
Them wondering whether they should have
Come along with me—
Just as I, too, had wondered that at the journey with you—
Until at last, I saw it for myself.