A poetic life summary from the last chapter of my book, 'The Secular Fundamentalist'
I am my mother’s woman
And my father’s man,
They taught me how to deal with life’s travails
And to withstand.
Their voices echo still in imagination’s halls
And in the choices that I made.
Their gestures and abiding love bind to mine
As I re-export them down the line.
I am the product of my forbears
As I am to my descendants
Who shall bear the brunt
Of life and all its cares
When I am but a memory
Returning to the mist
As ethereal as a fond blown kiss,
An eyebrow raised,
An idiosyncratic gaze or gait
Walking ever onwards
To whatever that it is
That is their fate.
I am the grass and leaves
That fed me
As I shall feed them
That fed me.
I have breathed the sigh of life
‘pon green and flowered trees
As they have breathed their scents
Exchanging on the breeze
I am the water in the well
And clouds and rain
that moistened me
And slaked my thirst
So that I could give it
A living spigot
But what if I took more
Than what I gave?
How shall I account or recompense
For this net expense
Upon the common weal?
How will my descendants cope
When all the losses crystallize?
No room left for alibis
Or enterprising backroom deals
With consequences taking some
To early graves?
My only claim to immortality
My memorial trashed and buried
My descendants in a cleft
Whether to acknowledge me
To wanton murder
Or egregious theft.
And knowing this what shall I do?
How to comport myself in time that’s left
To unburden conscience with the uncompromising
Hardest word of all,
The power of ‘no’,
And willingness to go down harder roads
Whose uncertain and hazardous routes
Are strewn with mines and well armed troops
So that even friendships
Bought by time and trust
Can be betrayed and turned to dust
Rubble, blood and bone
By an unobtrusive loitering drone.
There’s not much time to make amends
For our mistaken means and ends.
Thus we must build and weld
A world with walls and rooves
To withstand all and regulate
All that we shall do and all the moves
With rules to make us strong
And little time for fools who would impede
Why we should not
For defeat is not to lose the fight
Or be obliged to make retreat
But not to have even tried.
There is no god.
No buses run to paradise.
We’re on our own
And desultory behavior cuts no ice.
The road to hell is where we’re going.
It’s all downhill from here.
Inertia will suffice.
The road to war is always noisy
with the barking of its dogs
and littered with sad protests
at its progress,
the anger that it fertilizes
feeds and nests
as all as one begin to play
The drawbridge of their friendships
raised too steep
as all the bets come off
the stakes too become too great
no one can afford to lose their bets
and the fear of that
Turns to hatred of those
who'd make it real
takes over as the sun
on civil discourse sets.
And conscience turns to steel.
There is no good or happy end to this
For war must do what reason should
If we’re to salvage much for hope
By wearing down our enemies
Till they no longer have the means
Or die in the attempt
Not because we had to
But because we could
For salvation is as much
The manner of our death
As how long or how often
We took breath.
Sober is the mind that thinks these things
Knowing that the peace is stretching thin
Like skin upon a rotting corpse
That in due time will fissure and irrupt
All that stinks and is corrupt.
That sweet rancid aroma slowly creeps
Under doorways through the carpet seeps.
Every house upon the street
It will disrupt
And rage will have its day
To sound of drums and marching feet.