The Utmost Fortress
Soon the snow would whirl from highest heaven to earth
spreading the nectar of happiness
on the tortured streets, on the tortured hearts.
“You ain’t heard a word I said, ” Hubert Tilton moaned.
“Sorry, ” I said, meaning it, yet still caught up
in the blessed vision.
“Yesterday after supper
I munched a whole loaf of Wonder bread
and drank a six pack of red raspberry soda.
I needed pleasure.
If I don’t stuff myself day and night
I can’t touch the ground.”
I stared at Tilton.
“Bernstein, ” he continued, “if I don’t eat
I suffer and get low, so low.”
Bill Oats chimed in, “It is back with me now
Suddenly the large plate glass window of Meng’s
framed the first snowflakes.
“I go to sleep with anxiety and wake up in it.
I long for ease.
Close to death.”
Bill Oats paused, stared at the ceiling,
finally screaming, “I ACCEPT DEATH.”
Then: closed his eyes and whispered,
“Death is horrible.
What will happen to me? ”
Eyes open now:
“I fear each moment
yet I have resolved not to have such fears
but Resolve cannot penetrate Dread.”
Outside, no questions, gloom crushed.
Bill Oats continued, “There’s an invisible wall
between me and humanity
I’m distant from their dreams
and have no interest in their voices
they can’t help untangle my wretchedness.
Only death is undistorted…”
Tilton blurted out, “Doctor Munn said if I didn’t lose weight
I was a dead man but he said the same thing
when I went past 400 pounds.
I’m still around.”
Almost a headache by now
the chatter of doom, so eloquent
but beyond the window
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Comments about this poem (The Utmost Fortress by Charles Wax )
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
William Ernest Henley
(1849 - 1902)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
(27 October 1914 – 9 November 1953)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827)
(30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936)
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