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May 19, 2018

PROLOGUE

A  hairy  hobo ambled toward me with a familiar pace,
In the spooky twilight, I could not make out his face;
I felt fear as he drew closer, I knew I could not flee,
When he blocked the pathway forward, I saw the bum was me.

The sight of him before me stabbed me like a knife,
I had drained his heart of passion, and all love of life;
He had a right to kill me, with no doubting or delay,
Like a final coup de grâce in a farce or tragic play.

He looked at me in silence, waiting for a word,
A word of honesty and wisdom, that he had never heard;
It’s too late, I said, to make excuses, to be one who contends
That there’s some purgatory where I can make amends;

One needs a hand of magic to restore a soul that’s shattered,
Like touching up a mural on a wall weathered and battered;
So run now–naked, along a seaside strand,
Your toes can squish and squirm in the cold and gritty sand;

Paint the furrowed brow of age with a splash of youthful mirth,
Like a caveman dancing to the music of the earth–
To the wind-song and the bird-song, and sounds along the shore,
The clapping of waves lapping, and the deep-voiced ocean’s roar;
O’er a prairie watch clouds blacken, when lightning will perform,
Feel the roll and rumble of the thunder in the storm;

You’re able to admire genius, and understand a sage,
Sing and write new melodies, and dramas for the stage.
Relish the joy of knowledge, ponder works of art,
Rekindle that quiet frenzy that smolders in your heart.

Go meet minds bright and caring, in a land that you’ve dreamt of,
Allow soft arms to hold you, and know a woman’s love;
Search no more for answers, or someone to accuse,
Race on, dear man, race on, race on! You have no time to lose.

ODE AT TWILIGHT

Old age crept in upon me when I thought I was immune,

How did this thing happen– to be so old so soon?

Death is as real as rock, as names on tombstones show,

Desperate dreamers in spite deny this fact all others know;

Clearly do they see the truth and don’t believe their eyes,

Hearing myths of mystics that Death’s a mere disguise;

(Perhaps this is a cause to grieve–
that we can know and not believe.)

Shadows loom not far ahead–that eternal shade,

Night is fast approaching, a fact I can’t evade;

Like flocks that flee the winter, just so the years have flown,

Memories come to haunt me, and weigh down like a stone;

I lost so much so early when I was strong and young,

Far more than gold or silver, when my life had just begun,

I squandered all youth’s treasures, through both word and deed,

Years with my soul imprisoned, captured by a creed;

I was awed by lettered churchmen and their scholastic treason,

The fake faith that they fostered, posing power over reason;

Faith led me like a lemming, like one who’s blind and dumb,

I became a nothing person, hollow as a drum;

But wait! Must I pay a penance to clear a youthful debt?

Dredge up shame and sorrow for failures I regret?

Must I don sack-cloth and ashes, and parade sins for review–

The things I did, dishonest, and things I did NOT do?

Is there need to bare the secrets I’ve kept on a hidden shelf,

That list of loves that I betrayed when I betrayed myself?

(David cautions not to muse on all that might have been,
The misty past holds nothing that I can lose or win.)

The crowd remains indifferent, though some may turn with sneers

At the scroll of crimes committed, the disgrace of wasted years;

Though I see the scythe of the Reaper and hear its dreadful swish,

I’ll waste no tears lamenting what I was or wish;

For I’m not a crippled victim foiled by fickle Fate,

Andrea’s poem reminds me that it is not too late,

Not too late for purpose or for a selfish plan

Not too late to do what is proper for a man;

The body’s limbs with age grow lame, as they’re so designed,

The timely downfall of our frame is not true of the mind.

Energy and health may go, body parts may fail,

And though the youthful heart may slow, wisdom doth prevail.

Now some preach that man is dirty, formed of clay and clod,

And brush away this precious life as a sacrifice to God.

Arabs hear an angel’s voice and read a holy book,

Wrap in raiment of submission, that feigns a holy look;

–The haughty Mullah at his mirror, posing there and preening,

For the Moslem and his empty soul, hatred gives life meaning;

Hot-blooded young men milling–millions around the earth–

Await a call to combat–war gives their lives some worth;

Most run where-ever duty calls so they’ll have a place to go,

And jump whenever sergeants shout, there’s nothing else they know.

Knights seek the Grail of folklore, or a dragon they can slay,

Serfs heed the calls of blue bloods, commands they can obey;

Soldiers thrill to drumbeats of a stirring Sousa march,

And oft’ parade in glory through a gleaming victors’ arch;

Modern warriors face their foes with both pen and gun

Their patriotic duty for a war that’s never won;

(Saul vows that this is theater–just whimsy and caprice,
Their show would be heroic if they would act for peace.)

Leaders laud obedience and demand you be resigned

To buttoning a uniform and zipping up your mind;

The future’s not predestined, men aren’t predoomed or fated,

Free will’s role is to create, not to be created.

Courageous rebels pester me to join a godly tide,

A crusade to end oppression, to commit tyrannicide;

But armies foster group-think, each man becomes a drone,

I must remain on guard, and face tyrants of my own.

While others fight where-ever, for me it is not so,

I’ll renew an ancient conflict that started long ago;

A struggle for survival without sword or shield,

To defend the ownership of self, a cause I cannot not yield.

A private battle raging is fiercest that can be,

The field of warfare is the mind, the enemy could be me.

I won’t fight for truth and justice, nor for family or for God,

Nor slog away in foreign fields that my ancestors trod;

I won’t sacrifice my valued years because of threats or blame,

Or bristle at some disrespect or to try to make a name;

Robin Hoods tout “Equality,” their collective plot,

I won’t join their masquerade and be someone that I’m not.

I’m not a Caesar with his Legions, bringing shock and awe,

To pacify barbarians and spread the Roman law;

Nor Charles Martel, “God’s Hammer,” whose slashing bloody sword,

Changed the course of history, and turned back the Moslem horde;

Nor an Isaac Newton, a titan of the mind,

Who plundered nature’s secrets, and gave sight to the blind;

Nor a “Deep-browed Homer,” who sang of warring rabble,

With songs that soothed savages and brought culture to their babble.

I don’t have to be a hero and rescue victims everywhere,

From dungeons and disasters, desperation and despair;

I won’t fantasize of noble deeds, works of my creation,

That banish brutes from power, and save civilization.

I am who I am–

The old man who appears before me, the one I owe the most,

Whom I’ve abused and bullied, or ignored much like a ghost;

To him I’ve cheated and tormented, like a helpless elf,

I have an obligation now–the duty to myself.

I’m comforted by rich music and the glory of its sounds,

I’m nourished by fine art and earth’s beauty that surrounds;

I’m abetted by some oddballs, kindred souls who think ,

Who face witch-doctors and their kin and never ever blink;

They roust socialists and shamen with philosophic wit,

And detour ‘round a comfort zone, as if it were a pit.

As I start my final journey, they poke me on my way,

A trek that’s just beginning, the start of a new day;

Nudged by these eccentrics and the philosophy of Rand,

I’ll search forbidden places for Ayn’s Promised Land;

I’ll become a stand-off outlaw–I know taunts will be hurled–

To accept myself at twilight is how I’ll save the world.

.

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