Memento Mori ~ Philip Brent Harris
Shall we now, forever, no longer pretend
That we have done anything less than sinned?
Whether stumbling through our ignorance,
From our hubris or through fate or history.
If saints all, we would still plead unaware
Of acting less than noble, acting like we care.
Not everyone in every time, beginning until now
But so many, we have forgotten why, or how.
With tension in the world bristling
We walk past the graveyard whistling.
Whether at the stroke midnight or in bright sunlight
We are taught, be afraid but schooled to fight.
More often, we would be better off to flee,
Yet, sense gone, anger screams to drown the sea.
What can I do to make my voice heard?
Speak more softly? It sounds absurd.
If I do not shout the madness, the raging excess,
Refuse to sprout my prophet’s long, tangled beard,
Join with others and put this to the fevered final test,
Be then, by confusion, into the rabid ruckus lured,
Must I stand alone?
If I could choose to not feel forgotten and lonely,
I would be a lone voice in the wilderness whispering,
Under a night of a million unseen stars, if only, if only,
People would choose to pause, begin listening.
When noise and fear grow so loud,
We will all be lost within the crowd.
I would propose to be the new Howard Beale,
But reject the terms of this lousy deal.
Though I assure you I am mad as hell,
Like you, none here know me well.
We may meet for coffee, drinks or dinner,
Solve all the world’s problems in our way.
Neither does this aid us, cause us to be winners,
Nor, in any manner, prevent us from being sinners,
No matter how nicely with others we may play.
Would I be the flawed hero, whose final reach
Wins the day, though the beach is awash in blood.
A latter-day Noah, thrown recklessly into the breach,
Me and mine, alone, running before the flood.
What of heritage, genetics? What of our destiny?
Does the former provide us less than we’d expect,
The latter not what we would have chosen to be?
Is either our choice or decision in the long view,
When life holds our feet to the fire or we object,
Do we imagine, simply, that glory is but our due?
Will I be chosen to play the lead,
Or be an extra, have no lines?
Both are there to fill a need,
Important to the plot’s designs.
Truly, such purple words; is it for want of a nail,
No matter if we are chosen to rule the world
Or condemned to spend our entire life in a dank jail,
There are harsher insults than life has so far hurled.
I would choose to be a mystic, a prophet, a fool;
Anything, if my choice, not any other’s tool.
Does this burn me, brand me an atheist, if I
But believe in life and my own existence?
Is there any reason that I must ask why,
Face the world without faith’s resistance,
Or any other form of outside assistance?
Love alone. Whether seen close or at a distance,
The background which holds all with its insistence.
Oh, to be able to walk upon the shore of the world,
As myself, but looking with a child’s-eye view.
To see all life, every flower, wing and leaf unfurled,
Understanding that anything which I believe is true
Not innocence, no. I court, propose possibility, magic.
When everything is possible, it may still sometimes be tragic.
Should I be the leaf litter,
The needles beneath the trees?
Seen as dead, to decompose, what’s fitter?
That death engenders life, wisdom perceives.
Why would we choose to kill and die
At the instigation of thorny, heartless old men?
They fight to keep us from ever asking why;
And we know this truth and should not pretend.
“Danger and damage,” you say, “may lead to growth.”
Fire in the forest fosters fierce fecundity.
Yet, the wood does not court the flame for its worth.
It responds in balance, when life provides opportunity.
As the cosmos always does and always shows.
The word itself implies, declares this glorious truth.
Child is parent to the man, or so the saying almost goes;
The opposite is true as well, that age is parent to youth.
Why do we model our behavior
On a vengeful, petty god? I’m unclear.
While we teach of god as good, a savior,
Is it only to mask our face, hide our fear?
Succor the little children, by example nurture them.
Live for them and their future now and forever.
Smile, to life yet to come sing praise, a holy anthem,
Until child and man shall finally grow together.
And if we do, in time, the world and all
Will pass away as if it’s never been.
But we will live in peace and recall,
A time when we claimed our sin.
When my flesh is rotten, and my bones returned soil,
I will float upon the night sky’s waves, beyond turmoil.
Until I am washed upon the distant shore once more,
Recognizable, perhaps, but for some new purpose,
Life will recycle, connected, to destroy and restore,
What ascends scarce, descends, that which is surplus.
No one may describe the future in detail, exactly,
Though some may see a vision on the unfurled wing.
Only when we make mistakes will life fit perfectly;
Learn we are the choir and those who hear the choir sing.
I have stepped out when fog obscured any sign or thought of land.
Only in that sacred moment, did I even begin to finally understand.