And when they reach me, as they surely will,
Then I will see, myself, what I had never hoped to know,
What I hoped I'd never see, what I hoped would never be
And then he let me wait a while. He smoked
and I sucked down my beer with fitful sips
through tightened teeth, a jaw incapable of compromise.
And when they come at me, he'd said aloud
and I had felt his words invading,
hard, persuasive and so defined:
And when they come at me; And when they do the things
We know they do when they arrive,
He said it sadly, yet without a trace of off-emotion,
Then we must do the things we're told to do,
or do the things we know we ought to do,
The things we're taught to do in bible classes
Proctored by nuns who staunchly hold their wimples posed
With pins that reach their brains,
and hair-shirts under woolen cassocks,
Plainly pained by their experience with God, or with not-man.
And when they come at me, as come they will,
And when they reach me, as you know they can,
And when they reach inside me, wrenching from me
Secrets that I do not know, and confidences never parceled
And I must soon surrender all the thoughts that keep
And there's the bitter truth that comes from deep inside
And shows its face just once before it hides in shame,
Disgrace that treason truly feels, but only once can speak of,
Once can know, before it's gone forever,
Like the men who come at me,
And there's no guilt in telling tales that one invents
But makes so real that even sharp men must believe
Then there's an end to all the horror of the world,
When just a lie, a choice invention of miraculous imagination,
Comes to save a moment, catch a breath, relieve a pain
And clutch a heart that dares to beat again
With fire and light, and air of course, such air
That must be cherished while it lives,
That air is mine. It cannot leave me, can't belong
To any one but me, not them, not surely them
Who come to me, as they must come,
In fear, in anger, anguish, pain and howling in the mind
And in the oddments of the weariness we feel,
And so they take the lie, go back to where they were,
To where they cannot know me laughing
Cannot hear me sighing,
Cannot smell me telling you the yarn of them and what they do,
And what they cannot do to men who check themselves within
Their minds, kept whole, and pure and simple and divine,
And hold the happiness of worlds between their minds and eyes,
and then he stopped.
His words ran quiet.
His thoughts stood stilled.
He spoke no more, but smoked,and sipped and smiled.
And I would ask him what I had to ask:
Am I the them who come at him?
Or are there more? Is there more to know that I can't ask
Because I am not them?
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