Wednesday Poem

“Many American men…do not have enough awakened or living warriors
inside to defend their soul houses.” —Robert Bly

Old Self

I chanced across my old self
today. He was sitting in the second
floor office where I used to work —
at the typewriter, young, thin guy,
in his late twenties, white shirt, narrow
dark tie, serious demeanor, writing
an essay against the Viet Nam war.

I came up the stairs and saw him —
a decent human being, diligent,
not remotely aware of the ambush
life had waiting — not knowing
he’d permit himself to be taken
prisoner and then, in confusion,
do desperate things, betray
what he loved — and that nothing
would enable him to survive
as he was.

I passed the open door
and wanted to cry out — warn him,
force the warriors to raise
their spears. But even hearing
my shout, he would have only
hesitated, then turned back to
his devoted, lonely and interminable
work.

by Lou Lipsitz
from
Seeking the Hook
Signal Books, 1997

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