Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Soldier Unsettled

by CWK

Last night, the sky was on fire
with the weapons of wars of desires,
and it stirred me.
I am a soldier. We are at war! At war, are we.

I'm still wide awake, I still hear your gospel;
O Lord, I still hear, still clear, the bell.
I still believe we will prevail,
O Lord – but Lord, please hurry:
it's getting dark; I'm getting worried.
Or else, at least, send me a sign
to remind me: this will still all end well.
It's getting dark; I'm getting worried,
and Lord, I can't seem to find
my horse, my sword, or my way off the front line.
My vision's dim; my map is blurry.
O Lord, please help, O Lord, please hurry.

O Lord, the good guys are the bad guys,
and the bad guys just get worse.
I can feel their hate hot on my skin;
I can hear their curse
strangling my breath from within.
And Lord, with weaponry loveless and cold,
they have vandalized my soul.
When I feel now, I feel less a man,
and more like a worm writhing, trying
to crawl across a parched land.
Yes, I’m a soldier; all this, wages of warfare:
burdens every good soldier must bear.
You sent me to this war; I’ll die fighting –
but the truth is, I'm already dying;
the truth is, I'm not that strong.
O Lord, how long? How long? How long?

Somewhere on earth there's a line
between heaven and hell;
I used to know that line so well,
but I can't spot it anymore.
I still see demons in the strangest places;
I still watch my back out in open spaces –
but I am growing careless and unsure.
I can no longer separate foes from friendly faces;
they look the same in certain lights.
I forget, sometimes, we are at war.
Some days I even lose sight
of why we’re here, and what it is we fight for.
And I still have open sores;
they are worse, much worse than before,
and they bleed every night.
Still, I'm alright; I'll just say, I'm alright.

I am a poor man: a soldier unsettled:
wearied by struggles too cruel, too several.
I'm still wide awake, I still hear your gospel,
O Lord – but my soul's depleted.
I see single frightful frames repeated,
but I've lost the big picture, and nearly my mind.
I see the grapes being cruelly crushed down fine,
but I can't see, much less taste, the wine.
You see the landscape timeless, full, divine;
you see the thousand hills, green, and all the cattle –
but I see only valleys, red, full of bloody battles.
Where you see the whole, the grand design –
like a rose grown full, in beauty settled –
I see only fields of flowers felled, 
with blood on the stems: blood on the petals.

You've seen I'll come through, proved and improved,
with virtue perfected and true tested mettle;
you've seen my pilgrim's progress: sure, though meted.
I see a man in mud, struggling; unable to move:
a pilgrim in regress who's only retreated.

Where you see the masterpiece completed,
I see brutal brush strokes, in jagged lines.
Unlike me, you see across space and time and lies
with vision pure and good and wise.
I see my bruises blackened; it alarms me –
you see my enemies can hurt, but never harm me.
I see the beginning, only farther, but darkly.
You see the beginnings in the end, in harmony, 
all withal toward bright glory refined
as in eternity they shimmer and shine.
I try to see how you see, but my eyes only decline.
O Lord, please hurry; my heart's breaking.
I am your soldier, but your soldier is shaking.

I don’t know what else to ask for;
a million requests clamor at my heart’s door.
There's this, I guess: I could use some friends now:
a few kindred souls that I could talk to.
This is how friends begin – they begin, how? 
Oh, right, with one kind word, five virtues,
four loves, and two worlds with the same view.
In fact, O Lord, if friends are deferred –
(they're short in supply, or so I have heard)
then one kind word would do;
one kind word would get me through.

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