Return Poem by Edward Rhodes


So, in the very dead of night
Tired and bored and broken-hearted
I knelt by the bedside alone, and wrote
Of how I tried to keep afloat
When drowning in a sea of dreams
Although, you see, it should be said
That, when my words, at last, I read
I found myself at quite a loss
In seeking to discover why
Why do I fill my mind with such thoughts?
Dreams which influence my decisions
Crowding out the ache of self-derision
Sharing the derision of others
For I can hear the tempting voices
Importune me with their choices
Urging me toward revisions

But I will not repeat here what I wrote there
For I do not wish to alarm you my friend
I would never want to harm you
So do not listen to me

You see, it was the sort of dull and gloomy verse
Which one writes as a moody teenager
Nearly buried in youthful doubt
And not as a grown man, almost forty
Grown up into maturity and regret
Grown up into asking
“Is it too late? ”

And really, they were such depressing words
Like those one expects from the dreary pages
Of nineteenth-century German philosophers
And so I sit here, hide my face
While locked in this cold, lonely place
In which I have grown old
Grown old in asking
“Is it too late? ”

And they were just murmurings of self-pity
Not the sort of thing that you might imagine
Would be coming from the mind of one like me
From one who professes to believe
For I still believe
And I still receive the bread and wine
Hold on to faith and hope and love
Even when I am almost lost in the grieving
When I no longer can deceive
And I have grown bold
Grown bold in asking
“Is it too late? ”

I don’t know what’s come over me
Why is my perspective so awry?
All out of proportion and degree
Afflicted by some strange unease
Did I consume, the other night
Far too much wine and cheese?

So, I put aside my feint-ruled notebook
Pour myself another glass of gin
Wonder if I should tear out the pages
Is there time left to begin?
I should write something far less prone
To being distorted, misunderstood
Or, worse still

I will go to sleep
I will close my eyes
I will start to dream
I will try to think of submarines
Trying not to drown in a distant sea
Hiding away where I can’t be seen

And I will sleep
And I will dream
Till the night turns to dawn
And the songbirds sing
In the trees that rustle by the bedroom window
And the alarm clock rings
To rouse me on another day
When I shall hide this all away
Far from the people that I meet
Maybe some of them will say
“The clown has not arrived today
No jokes he makes, no silly games
Why does he hide his face away? ”
But do not worry about my gloom
Though the entertainment’s not so good today
Normal service will be resumed

And in the evening I will walk away
Maybe go and hear the jazz band play
And drink a pint of beer, or two, or three

And I will sleep
And I will dream
And all these passing moods
Will no longer trouble me
For I will make them go away
With cheery tunes
And I will strive to be that man
Who brightens everybody’s day
And everybody will love me

But I have faith
I still have faith
I still believe that I am new
That the old and obsessive fool has had his day
Maybe I should begin again to pray?
To close my eyes once more and see
Through all the clouds of unbelief
The face of God
Smile back at me

And then I will no more need to dream
And no more feel the need to write
To strangers set apart in heart from me
Of adoration and desire
But I am weak
I know I’m weak
Sometimes at night before I sleep
I feel the lingering, soft caress
Of tears upon my cheek
And seek escape in words
Please do not let me write of love
Or challenge my respect

But I have love
I still have love
Even when I, in distant rings
Orbit the warm and glorious sun
Of some beautiful woman
Even then I have love
Even then I worship

And I will leave this all behind
Walk by the sea, or anywhere
Far from the detours of my mind
Which lead me to despair

But I have hope
I still have hope
Hope that one day, perhaps today
I will return
Come home again
Restored once more to my right mind
But will I then be welcomed in?
Awaited, seen from far away?
Will you see and run to me?
Will you fall upon my neck?
Will you drown me in strong kisses?
Embrace me in accepting arms?
I hear the music, smell the feast
And clothed in gentle robes of love
I wear the ring
Which speaks to me of love unearned
And listen to the angels sing
Sing of the day that I returned
From wandering among the dead

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