Oh lord, oh lord,
what has befallen me?
That which I hoped to make straight
becomes more twisted.
That which I should understand
only becomes more strange.
How did I land on this unexpected shore?
What am I to make of the walking wreck of myself?
I can still think, still work,
still speak in poems
in the sleepless time of the night.
It is a mixed gift, this life, it is hard
to feel so completely lost
in complexity I don’t know how I made.
I wanted to be a radiance
but I am more like a garbage can
tipped by a starving animal 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’m astonished that I’m alive.
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 are 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 home.
I shall try now 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, awkwardly,
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.