Here is an old man
Whose lips are cracked around the corners
And his skin sags a little,
With deepened crevices upon his forehead.
He speaks to me as though most infantile of creatures —
For I am young to him,
“If you knew where I'd been you'd hate the same,
Damn foreigners stealin' our land, bastards —
Don't talk to me with such insolence, you should see;
You should see such as I have
They treat their women like burdens —
They aren't Christian, they live like savages.
The stench from their bodies is so horrible it'd make you vomit!
They're nasty creatures and they wouldn't say one word in defense
of you —
Mark my words they'd kill you in a heartbeat —
With no morality at all!
You'll see, it takes time to hate —
But you will hate them as I do.”
And clouds that hover low
Fragments of breath — and memory
Stirring desire, fleeting passion
I could not have known —
The chill in breath,
And stale bread and stilled water,
The dried blood across a spleen,
And dying men —
Sing me a song of drudgery,
Let me know the turmoil and pain —
I'll say I believe it, pretend that I've seen it,
But I'm a young fool and afraid.
Now this man has seen such bitterness,
That could fill all life's days,
His heart has rotted,
Turned dark and abhorrent,
And filled with hate and bigotry
Take me away from such reality!
Turn me from tangled disdain —
Whisper only what is sweet and holy,
And fill me with bright summer days!
Let us all step back again,
And view from within,
Hate will lead us to paths that are barren,
And insidious passion with a hollow void —
If this face of age is what's to come,
Then save me from myself today!
by Matthew York
... who is a freelance poet compiling a collection of verse, and
is finishing his second novel.