Wednesday, June 26, 2013


As I went out one morning (with a nod to W. H. Auden)

(Author's note. I'll be damned if I remember writing this, but it has to be mine because I can't find it anywhere else. As I Walked Out One Evening by W. H. Auden is perhaps my favorite poem, so maybe it got the juices flowing. In any case, I must have borrowed some imagery here and there. Auden I'm not, but we must wade in.)

As I went out one morning

Walking the primal road

My shoulders were bent over

With an invisible load.

And down by the creek where the salmon

Sing all day in the spring

I heard a man with holes in his clothes

Say, “Love has no ending.”

I wondered at his heresy

He wasn’t supposed to speak

Of things he did not understand

And shouldn’t even seek.

“I love you, Lord, I love you,”

the ragged man proclaimed,

although his face was badly scarred

and his body bent and maimed.

The man was clearly crazy

For as he spoke his rhyme,

The salmon danced in the shallow stream

In fish-determined time.

I didn’t try to love him

But I loved him just the same

For he broke the diver’s quivering bow

And called his God by name.

“Oh tell me, man, oh tell me,”

I cried in my anguished state,

“What is the secret of the world?

Where is the end of hate?”

And all at once his face had changed

To an evil, ugly mask

His body had become the hate

About which I had asked.

“How stamp this mask into the mud,

How keep despair at bay?”

“You can’t,” he told me, grinning,

“But my God can point the way.”

“How dare you speak of God, you wretch,

When God’s abandoned you?

How dare you use the Holy Name?

He doesn’t want you to!

Your life’s just spent surviving

With the sidewalk as your bed

And taking poisons in your veins

And scrambling to be fed.”

The man just stood in leaves and mulch

While the salmon sang and spawned:

“Just see the other side of me

And tell me I am wrong.”

Another face appeared just then

A face all beaming bright

Its eyes were streaming like the sun

With pure mysterious light

“You blinded fool, you stand before

A drop of mist made rain

An eye that Paradise looks through

That holds both joy and pain.”

“I cannot understand you, for

You play such games with me!

How can you masquerade as God

And tell me how to see?”

“No one knows how Life began,

From Nothing came our birth.

A stir of seething molecules

Sparked all the life on earth.”

“Don’t tell me, wretch, you are the one

Who made this world come true!

Imposter, get out of my road,

I cannot look at you.”

“Just so,” the man said, streaming light,

“For no one knows the why.

But you will be forever changed

By looking through my eye.”