18 04 21

And with great fear I inha­bit the middle of the night
What wrecks of the mind await me, what drugs
to dull the senses, what lit­tle I have left,
what more can be taken away ?

The fear of tra­vel­ling, of the future without hope
or buoy. I must get away from this place and see
that there is no fear without me : that it is within
unless it be some sud­den act or cala­mi­ty

to land me in the hos­pi­tal, a total wreck, without
memo­ry again ; or worse still, behind bars. If
I could just get out of the coun­try. Some place
where one can eat the lotus in peace.

For in this coun­try it is ter­ror, pover­ty awaits ; or
am I a mar­ked man, my life to be a les­son
or expe­rience to those young who would trod
the same path, without God

unless he be one of jus­tice, to wreak ven­geance
on the acts com­mit­ted while young under un-
due influence or cir­cum­stance. Oh I have
always seen my life as dra­ma, pat­ter­ned

after those who met with disas­ter or doom.
Is my mind being taken away me.
I have been over the abyss before. What
is that rin­ging in my ears that tells me

all is nigh, is naught but the roa­ring of the win­ter wind.
Woe to those home­less who are out on this night.
Woe to those crimes com­mit­ted from which we
can walk away unhar­med.

So I turn on the light
And smoke rings rise in the air.
Do not think of the future ; there is none.
But the for­mu­la all great art is made of.

Pain and suf­fe­ring. Give me the strength
to bear it, to enter those places where the
great ani­mals are caged. And we can live
at peace by their side. A bride to the bur­den

that no god imposes but knows we have the means
to sus­tain its force unto the end of our days.
For that is what we are made for ; for that
we are crea­ted. Until the dark hours are done.

And we rise again in the dawn.
Infinite par­ticles of the divine sun, now
wor­ship­ped in the pitches of the night.

« The Acts of Youth »
Selected Poems, 1958–1984
Black Sparrow Books 1986