To me it seems sometimes strange,
Though the feeling is familiar,
To hate and love a thing at once
And never know the true desire.

To discern myself has proven
The task beyond ability;
Learning my own mind and heart
Has only taught me more humility.

Like other men who came before,
I wondered of my own worth;
How could such a one as I
Be but a lesser creation of this Earth?

What contribution do I make,
What gift do I offer God or man,
While sitting alone in dim-lit room,
Another useless, lonely also-ran.

Once, did I not have potential?
A dream there was, dear to heart,
That I might prove–some day–useful;
Have I never moved past the start?

Unfortunate, I do not know my lack
And am left seeing only the effect;
With all that I know not, I know I have
An inborn inability to connect.

How can I be the only of my race
To whom this does not come freely;
Instead of knowing, loving, being,
I might paint the walls like Kurt and Ernie.

But then tonight, at twilight-time,
The Heavenly Painter showed me,
With brushstrokes of blood-red on black,
A canvas renewed each eve in beauty.

The lonely trumpeter taps away
As the evening lamps are lit,
But he gives no sign to carry on,
Or if he does, I do not hear it.

What now, my oldest friend?
Do we go on or end forever
This experiment of our life–
Our greatest and only endeavor?

Dazily stumbling, sullenly marching
Onward, we continue to press,
Against a lack of hope and will
Or chance of once-defined success.

We go—until we no longer might—
In search of a better aim;
Knowing naught but to hope and trust
That all will not be done in vain.


Set Eternity in the Heart of Man

This life is a binary proposition.
The question’s answer is yes or no–
There will not be any modifier–
Merriment and vanity or something more.

Can a man transcend objectivity?
Can I deny that for which I was made?
God has set eternity in the heart of man;
I have not been made the exception.

Only it seems that in recognizing this,
I have been fated to greatness and loneliness
Or offered the obscurity of soft acceptance.
The choice cannot be left unmade.

In separating myself to climb the heights,
I would find myself rejected by those below,
In whom I would otherwise find the appreciation
Of self-congratulation of another who joined the mass.

But this less than madding crowd,
Which seeks solace in self-same company,
Is less than sure of its worth
So that it demands capitulation

From those outsiders who dare
To cause them to feel less than worthy
In their wholly unsatisfactory performance
And woefully inadequate achievement.

For they have decided to rest content,
Hidden away from eternity’s demands,
And hate ever to be reminded of
Their everlasting calling to Truth.

Should I be required to sacrifice the work
Of which I am capable, to which I am called,
Only because others feel themselves incapable
And recognize neither calling nor requirement?

Woe to those who find themselves in good company,
Who have never known the greatness of loneliness,
Who have never made the precious sacrifice required,
And to whom vanity is a comfort.

Unnatural Relation

I make no claim to natural ease with
Those connections that others find innate.
This human grace was never granted to me.
I feel myself detached from my fellow man.

And you, you give love so readily,
At the first glance, with many and most takers.
But you supplement that which is natural
With that which seems right in your own eyes.

In thus doing, you have run afoul
Of an edict you have never recognized,
A Law for which you were not afforded the veto.
Yet here, in the court, you find yourself accused.

And though I be not the judge,
I act the hung jury, trying to make sense
Of a Law I do not understand myself–
One sinner hesitant to condemn another.

What could I say to the defendant who asks me
The meaning of the terms by which she is being tried
When I’ve never defined them for my own life?
Are we judged by alternating standards?

I know the tension between assuring her
Of love and of requirements made upon her–
Requirements eternal and real and full
Of truth and love and grace, at first unseen.

How can one be required to give up
Everything that looks right and good
To receive what only looks to be
Empty promises from an unsure guarantor?

Could we trade places, you and I?
Let me be the one required
To forsake all I want and love
For all I reject and need.

Let it be you to whom true love comes easy.
My friend, my friend…
What I would not give for you to know this grace.
What I would not give to take your place.

Captive Audience

Truly, wasting a man’s time
Is the deepest sign of disrespect.
For Proustian time, a precious thing,
Can never really be redeemed.

You take, without thinking–
And, may I add, without excuse–
My own rightful possession,
And return to me only your pomp.

Get behind me, thief! Depart!
No longer hinder me on my way
To greater things than those
On which you would have me dwell.

Pitied and Fearful

I no longer know what this is;
I have named it too often.
Is this love, hope, delusion?
I submit I do not know.

Ask me to describe this to you;
I will beg for time–and patience.
Do you know more than I?
Instruct me on what I lack.

Show me the things I do not know;
Make me to understand them.
Is there hope for one lost?
Between us, surely you know.

You were recently born into this–
Untainted by lessons I have learned.
Or will your youth be our end?
Naivete, too, begets tragic catharsis.

Some day, this curtain will fall;
Pity and fear will pass away.
Is purgation too hopeful?
Then I will know what this is.

To Love At All

Does he now open himself,
The unbeaten swordsman
Who turned aside all past blades
And pierced opponents’ hearts?

Does he reach too far in the lunge,
Advancing on the empty fade,
Only to find the tip sharper
Than any point he had ever used?

At last, a worthy match was found,
But perhaps the new duelist
Is too familiar with the usual tact
And has perfected her defenses.

But submission here will not serve,
For it is the same defeat and death,
Whereas victory now need not require
The usual sacrifice–hers or mine.

So he stands, pointe à la terre,
Awaiting in impatient vulnerability
Her decision–to be or not to be–
For a newly redeemable heart.

A Valuation

Is it possible to know
The value of a man?
Can I observe my neighbor
And enumerate his worth?

By what shall we judge
One against the next?
Are all relative, one to the next,
With none to hold the objective?

There exists one Objective,
The original Existence:
Infinite and incomprehensible;
Therefore: incomparable.

Such magnitudes do not lend to
Numbers easy or worthwhile.
Such miniscularity obscures
Any effort toward investigation.

But may a worm judge his kind?
Surely, we who see eye to eye,
Hidden behind the same veil,
Can establish terms of our own.

These, by their various names—
Art and culture, history and politic,
Love and lust, want and need—
Hold what power we give them.

Even I may hold that power,
Insignificant mite that I am.
You then hold that same power
Over me, a needful patient.

And you, same-fated subject
Of my very own: beloved mine,
Does what worth I would assign
Give you meaning or raison d’etre?

I can speak only for myself:
To say that though I know it
To hold no such great weight,
Yet I feel it—a deeper knowledge.

To feel a truth beyond my ability—
To know without understanding—
Is this the furthest edge of being?
Is this to love and see the face of God?

This small measure of His power,
Given to those creatures here below,
Formed in the imago idem,
Can give life and blessing or the curse.

It is relative: all to the Objective.
Yet I was made for it—and you—
To give and receive: life and death,
Called to love my fellow man.

But why task this broken cistern?
Can I give life to the deserving?
To one who hardly bears himself,
How much more to love another?