Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Hateful Thing


When life struck its first blow,
he retreated before it.
But blows never stop at one.
So he kept retreating
until his back found the wall.
Within himself he found
hammer and anvil,
turned the ore of pain
into plate metal and shield.

Gilded and girded,
he strode forth upon the field.
And the wounds he took showed
only as dents in his armor.
On the outside.
On the outside.

A hero holds his own in the face of many.
He does not wish battle but does not shirk it.
He “stands tall.” He “fights the good fight.”
His face may be bloodied, his body bruised.
But it’s only on the outside
because his spirit is burnished within.
Burnished within.

Only, in this world
there are so few face-to-face fights.
He seldom sees an enemy coming.
He can’t watch every shadow where a dagger
might lurk.
And not only enemies wield the blade.
Friends and loved ones always know
where the chinks lie in the armor
that has started to rust.

When does the hero become the villain?
Is it when he begins to return every blow
with the force of ten?
Or when he returns blows not yet given?
But expected.

In time he came to enlightened rage.
When an insult was thrown at him,
he sharpened it with words,
poisoned it with his own blood
and hurled it back.
By then he was going armed
to every gathering.
Prepared for defense.
Or offense.
Or offense.

Finally the day came
when he looked in the mirror
and saw,
he had become his own enemy.
A hateful thing.
And for such a blow
there is no armor,
no retreat.
For such a blow must be the last
ever struck.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

And that can certainly happen when the anger and negative take over. Excellent poem, Charles.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Certainly reflects on our time.

Cloudia said...

What a deeply wise understanding of human nature such as a writer or psychologist might possess!

Shadow said...

Does life sharen the edge or our own ego? Yes. Stand tall. Say your say. Live what you believe. Fortunately it's not in my nature to harm, not anymore.......

sage said...

That's powerful--thankfully he realizes that he's his own enemy, many never have such an enlightment

Jenny Baranick said...

Returning the blows that he expected. That's really great.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Powerful stuff, Charles. I particularly liked the end.

Charles Gramlich said...

Alex, thanks. I appreciate it.

Patti, sadly true.

Cloudia, you always say the nicest things. :)

Shadow, I hope it is not in my nature but it's hard to be sure.

Sage, it isn't easy to admit, I imagine

Jenny, wrote this back a long time ago now but have never done anything with it.

Prashant, thanks, man

Erik Donald France said...

Excellent! I really dig the emphatic-hypnotic doubling of lines, too.