Prophet - Poem by Art Rosch
Oh lord, oh lord,
what has befallen me?
That which I hoped to make straight
only becomes more twisted.
That which should be understood
only becomes more strange.
How did I come to this unexpected shore?
And what am I to make of the walking wreck of myself?
It’s true, I can still think, still work,
still make the sleepless time of the night
speak in poems.
It is a mixed gift, this life, it is hard
to feel so completely lost
in complexity not of my making.
I wanted to be a radiance
but I am more like a garbage can
tipped by a raccoon in predawn hours.
I pick myself up,
I sweep my contents
into a tidy pile,
but each time I think to rest,
I am again overturned.
I speak to you, o lord,
like the wounded Jew,
like the baffled bloodied prophet,
like the broken fated sage.
I take help from any quarter,
even those with dangerous denizens.
I take comfort with the scorpion,
I sleep with diseases,
I mark my worth with the vague knowledge
that I am somehow loved.
Still I marvel and lament
at my scattered state,
at my continued surprise that I am alive,
that I move my limbs with some dim purpose,
that I have any faculty left to cry out to you.
Oh lord, what has befallen me?
You see, I have nothing but questions.
It could be much worse, I freely admit.
It could be much better,
I ruefully entreat.
Pieces of me have gone numb.
Whole continents of my psyche have been submerged,
I am the world I have made.
I am a man, dreadfully incomplete,
unwilling to meet the terror,
reluctant to behold the fire,
shrinking always from the worst case,
taking the hand of any wiser being,
like a lost child who needs to be led,
anywhere, as long as it seems to be
a worthy destination.
I shall try now, lord, to snatch a bit of sleep
from the bottom of the night’s cup.
I’m glad we had this little talk.
I thank you, uncomfortably,
like one who has opened the wrong gift
at the wrong party.
Oh, is this for ME?
I’m not quite sure it fits,
I’m not sure how to use it.
I’ve broken it a little
but it still works. See?
I’ve tried, I’ve hopped on one foot,
I’ve danced insanely.
I’m still here,
waiting for your soft voice
to bring me peace.
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