I’m mucking about with the WordPress app on Facebook, and I needed a post to complete an experiment. So I figured I’d take the opportunity to post this poem by Edward Hirsch. I ripped it out of The New Yorker back in 2006 and it’s been on my fridge ever since.
Now, I’m not a poetry person – in fact, this is probably the only poem I’ve ever read in The New Yorker – but for some reason this one caught my eye. My visceral reaction to it is not unlike my reaction the first time I heard Appetite for Destruction. I can’t stop reciting it in my head.
Since I must soon remove it from under the Los Sullivanos save-the-date magnet, I’m going to put it here for when I need it…the next time traffic is heavy coming off the bridge.
A PARTIAL HISTORY OF MY STUPIDITY
Traffic was heavy coming off the bridge
and I took the road to the right, the wrong one,
and got stuck in the car for hours.
Most nights I rushed out into the evening
without paying attention to the trees,
whose names I didn’t know,
or the birds, which flew heedlessly on.
I couldn’t relinquish my desires
or accept them, and so I strolled along
like a tiger that wanted to spring,
but was still afraid of the wildness within.
The iron bars seemed invisible to others,
but I carried a cage around inside me.
I cared too much what other people thought
and made remarks I shouldn’t have made.
I was silent when I should have spoken.
Forgive me, philosophers,
I read the Stoics but never understood them.
I felt I was living the wrong life,
while halfway around the world
thousands of people were being slaughtered,
some of them by my countrymen.
So I walked on–distracted, lost in thought–
and forgot to attend to those who suffered
far away, nearby.
Forgive me, faith, for never having any.
I did not believe in God,
who eluded me.