From time to time, I check my old journals, notebooks, filing cabinets, or Word files to see what I wrote when I was much younger. I do so not just to find something to post here but to see what I had to say back then and how what I thought and wrote as a younger man compares to what I think and write now, to see whether or not something that was important to me or relevant then still is now.
I wrote the poem below, “Truths”, in July 2001, when I was 30 and a grad student. I don’t often write formulaic poetry, but this is a rare example of such. At the time I wrote it, I was in a bit of a depression-induced writing slump, and I relied on the strictures of the form to provide, if not inspiration, at least guidance. I am pleased to find that its theme, its pessimism and disappointment, and its ultimate hope and faith are as true for me today as they were then. I may have changed in subtle ways since, but I’m still fundamentally the same man at 47 that I was at 30. Is it preposterous to hope I may still be in another 17 years if I’m so fortunate to live that long?
Walking through a forest, verdant and alive
shining sun, blowing wind, streams flowing free
through carved beds. The earth, plants, and animals
all have a place in this scene, each plays its part
willingly and well, all working together to cast a spell
over the loner, the walker, the seeker of truth.
Unlike fiction it is elusive, this thing called truth.
When found, however rarely, the seeker comes alive.
Loosed from the veil of illusion, deceiving evil spell
which kept him bound. With right on his side he is free.
He’ll wander the earth, spread the word, do his part,
try to briefly raise the race above the savagery of animals.
For a time no longer treating each other like animals,
finding we can peacefully live together; this is the truth.
Despite our location, our nations of birth, we are all a part
of the one human race. Not dead to each other, but finally alive.
We’ll release prisoners of war, unchain slaves, open our eyes, be free.
Live, love, laugh, not separately but together, if only for a brief spell.
But then human nature again will take hold, shatter the spell,
and again human nature demands to treat others like animals,
the ones that are penned, domesticated, the predators that remain free.
Be not confused, for although the other is, this is also the truth:
as long as greed, evil dark seeds, though deeply buried, remain alive,
they will gestate, bloom, overgrow even the kindest part.
Sadly, even the most well-joined among us will part.
Thoughts of hate, not love, which we’ll forget how to spell,
will supplant whatever goodwill had briefly been alive.
We will hunt, hound, harry each other like predatory animals,
but someone will hope and dream, if you want to know the truth,
of another distant bright day when we’ll again be free.
Until then we struggle, while to dream and strive we are free,
knowing that wrong and right, dark and light, each play a part
in our eternal and insatiable quest for the truth.
Someday a loner, a walker, a seeker will discover the spell
to free us from the instinctual inconsiderate actions of animals
and transform this dead decaying world into one that is alive.
Until that day, we are free to exist for a spell,
to each play our part as humans or animals
’til one finds the truth, and love comes alive.
Via RDP #20, Check