What is it about life that bends me down,
But only because I have bowed; that crafts its gentleman
And ladies from afar, and in their hearts compel anxiety
As pregnant as a day?
Too much time I have spent, stomach imploded by command,
The up-right standing, upward living boy who cannot
By all rights, consider himself impoverished.
Though you would know otherwise, if living inside this
Weedy skeleton where gardeners have nowhere to begin.
Up from sheets, all tied in sweaty dreams, who swallow all
My unctuous thoughts memory has soon forgotten.
I eat the day and masticate through being, forging some
Uncertain method for gnawing at the private bones.
And who would know when ears are lit with kerosene smiles,
Deftly chosen words that speak of care and sometimes happiness?
No: I fear everyone and everything all at once
Because if they should leave me, subject of the dust,
I would have nothing but these thoughts that borough as
Termites often do; and nothing to blame them, for it is their nature.
But there with others, I have the cure! They speak to me and say
In words sometimes, and other ways with touches and affection,
“You are magnificent.” And I surely never do believe it, but
It is quite enough to know some other set of eyes, some conscious heart
With palpitations roughly hewn of goodness knows
I am a worthily created man. And worthy still through lie and ruin,
Worthy yet through violent offense; I am a he which was created, and
By no other virtue am worthy, well, and high among the world.
Still, it is so hard to see myself without an enemy in every day,
That moments bring collusion to my feet and I must fend it off awhile;
I think that I have given over more than is my share
To brittle worries and corrugated angst. It ends today
(I’ve said before, but more and more is true):
The me that hides in glories physical and cannot be supposed
To crumble under sin, has one more lesson to observe
Before I can be anything to anyone.
So I see the whistling boughs of trees today, lending to the wind their
Instrument, and many birds and squirrels sliding through the
Short-cut grass; how is it they do not think of living well, but
Go about it, simple as the sun?
Whatever their method, how little they ever think so much
Of themselves in the eyes of the world, and yet are much
Beloved to us all; I wish today I am an animal and tree and blade
Of grass. And there, will I have met with Whitman’s fantasy
And proved it real: so I am, so are we all remembrancers,
Designedly dropped by the One who parents all.
I have thus relinquished my worries of worthiness;
And have taken on the standard of self. With every beating heart, I here
Confess: Jeff to Jeff, this impassioned soul will not be stopped
For day, whatsoever the world thinks of him.