The Old Man, HK

I can’t help but think Papa would disapprove.
Not of the drinks–even he might be satisfied–
But of the patrons…

The bearded-boys and their desperadas:
These are not the full-chested men he wrote,
Nor the women.

These have not the courage to face life as it is;
They will not reach the same conclusion as he
And seek the way out.

For their part, they only want to find their way in–
Anywhere but outside-looking-in is for them,
Any clean, well-lighted place.

Because, somehow, some way, they came to believe
That the world in which they live is a fine place,
But they don’t have to fight for it.

So you can see how they found their way here:
In their pseudo-search for truth, they found a bar
In which to pretend.


Speak Truth in Love

This will be the third and final poem on a theme with a friend (for the time being). The theme this time is “Seeming opposites brought together”. This poem takes some liberty with that in calling “truth” and “love” opposites, though I base the idea off the fact that so many people do (incorrectly) consider them such. I will post a link to my friend’s poem here when it is published.

How can I explain this to you?
If I only knew a method of teaching
That would cause you no pain
In learning the lesson you hate.

Is there no easy discipline?
But then I see it is like the struggle
Between two foes to submission:
It is rebellion that causes anguish.

And thus put down, the rebellious
Would cry out against the injustice
Of the victors in their strength
And their unmerciful constancy.

The adage owns that truth hurts;
The truer it is, the sharper the sting.
How fit that the highest truth should
Call us to take up our cross and die!


Resolutions in sum:
“Resolved, that I will live so as I shall wish I had done
when I come to die.”

But in the details
Is where the money is made by a man (or woman)–
And through work.

“Day in, day out”
Is the only way to approach the goals of a year (or a life)
In order to succeed.

Resolved, we say,
To do this, that, and th’other at such a time (and place)
For one year.

Why this way?
Does one date hold significance for the turning around
Of my life’s work?

So then, “resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory, and my own good, profit, and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriad’s of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever” from this day ’til the end of all my days.


Those who trust little tend to love not much larger,
But you have proven the exception to the rule
With a heart that seems not to close itself off,
Despite learning lessons that would have silenced others.

You carry insecurities born from years of such schools–
From childhood, your teachers taught you to think less
First of others, perhaps, but the lessons soon turned inward,
And turned inward, outward appearance gained new import.

Consciously, you tried to refuse ces nouvelles morales,
Leading a self-charged revolution contre la mode
A self-imposed rejection of material importance–
To be a living standard of rebellion against your own beliefs.

These beliefs you hold, you do not deeply cherish,
For they draw attention to an ever-growing sense
Of your ever-diminishing love of self
Even while your love for fellow man survives unscathed.

More successfully than others, you have taken in worldly voices,
Convincing yourself of their emanation from the inner self,
And fallen victim to your own reproachfulness and censure–
A greater critic of self than any other might have been.

For what in comparison to the world can you be rebuked?
For which quality would I think you unsuitable, inadequate?
And yet you have learned your lessons all too well,
For when I tell you there is none greater, you only demur.

The lies in your life have also been truths told cheaply.
Words may lose their value with time and inattention,
As you’ve learned when others valued initial feeling
Over abiding joy–over deep roots and solid foundation.

Would that I could portray myself as worthy of your trust,
But then the gifts I offer are not all so rich as to merit it.
What could I give you but honest feeling and mere belief?
What could I offer that could mitigate the great risk?

For I have sold my words cheaply to others before you–
Guilty of the same crimes that brought you to this place,
And though forgiven, my rehabilitation remains to be proven
By one willing to take the chance on an undeserving parolee.

Alas: parolee–one who gives their word–an ironic phrase
In my case and yours, for whom words have healed and hurt,
Given hope and taken it away, offered life and given death–
And yet you know that words are all I have to give in this place.

Take my words and give them value–take them into your heart–
Or dash them against the rocks of your mind and sift them as sand–
But take them, for they are all I have to give, and I must give to you
Something–the most valuable thing I have left: my own cheap words.

But words can turn into promises, and promises may become truths,
One day, some day–not too far off, and yet not close enough.
But hold on to my words, and if you cannot believe them now,
I only beg you to wait until you can consider me worthy of trust.

Then we will both learn new lessons from one another,
Lessons in grace no others could yet have taught us.
Then may my promises of words become security in truths,
And I will repeat them over and over, all of your days.

In Vino Veritas

By now, you know the drill… In today’s offerings, we have two rather disparate references: Homer and Harry Potter.

In the Wine-Dark Sea
Somehow, they escaped my tight grasp;
My head was swimming,
And in the scarlet current
My words were swept away.

I pulled hard against the wine-dark waves,
But for every stroke or kick,
The words seemed to flow
Further and further downstream.

I stopped my belated struggle
And watched you scoop up my words
From your safe position on the shore
To examine them for yourself.

I hoped they would slip from your ears
As easily as they had slipped through my lips,
As a fish in its air-burdened death struggle
Leaps from the fisherman’s net.

But my words had lost their slippery touch
And in the end, they were easy to understand.
You knew their meaning at a glance
And so, you guessed the truth.

The Wall and the Key
I am proud of the wall I built–
Tall, sturdy–imperious, even.
And it is high. Oh, is it high.

And from atop my castle wall, I see everything.
I see the invading hordes crash against it–
Wave after pointless wave, breaking their strength.

I see stealthier intruders looking for back gates,
Some fixing grappling hooks to the ramparts,
Only to be released into free-fall halfway up.

Siege towers, battering rams, war ladders,
The magic of word, emotion, and caress–
My wall has withstood all affronts.

There is only one weakness, a single point of entry.
A small, unremembered door in a forgotten corner.
If you must know, the key is in a familiar bottle.

More Than Truth
In vino there is veritas;
Truth flows freely from the glass.
But if the truth you wish to throttle,
Drink instead th’entire bottle.

Tonight, I go to battle with the bottle.
Needlessly, I might add.
But it’s a challenge I cannot resist.
To test my body, my mind,
Against the veritaserum in my glass.

I have crafted the lock well;
It is durable and it has been tested before.
But we will push its limits tonight.
How many glasses, I wonder,
Until the lockpick is not even necessary.