LOVING MY ENEMIES by Judson Jerome

LOVING MY ENEMIES by Judson Jerome

 

I must love my enemies: I have made

so many of them. Whether I, drowning, flailed

rescuers, or, terrier-nervous, yapped.

defending God knows what from God knows whom,

or thought I was the jester, licensed to wound,

I drove you all away. I wanted room

to grow my crooked stem, so sprouted thorns.

or, as self-consuming candle, blindly burned

in guttering isolation, or vacuum-drained–

as a black hole does the sky–all warmth and light.

Emperor of sunny nursery play.

I took all as due, nor wondered how or why.

Pursuit of justice was a good excuse

to wear the jackboots of some public cause

and stab a friend for a stranger’s brief applause.

It simplified affection’s murky snarl

to make such clean incisions. I have hurled

babies and bathwater out for a better world.

But mostly I won your enmity with love

too fast too soon, my overwhelming wave

of self too bountiful, too gladly given.

To save yourselves from my self you were driven

if not to anger to politic escape.

I said I love you:  you foresaw a rape.

You must have loved me, enemies, to have left.

dreading the waste and smother of my gift.

sensing my naked need to be received.

Hard love withholds indulgence:  you withheld.

Such closeness both of us would soon have scalded.

You could avoid what could not be repelled.

Safer, of course, to love thus at a distance–

a dream of faces gone, but nearly kissed–

blending across the years without resistance.

yin lost in yang, and none knows when or how.

But there is safety even in my bower.

for I love you still–but do not need you now.

 

 

 

[Judson Jerome, born in 1927, grew up in Oklahoma and Texas. He taught at Antioch College from 1953-1973. His dozen books include volumes of poetry, books about poetry, a novel, a collection of verse plays, and works of social criticism, and hundreds of his poems, stories, essays, plays and articles have appeared in dozens of popular and literary magazines since 1955. Jerome wrote a monthly poetry column in Writer’s Digest, pointing out the frustrations of the market and the vanity of vanity publishing. “It was later that I remembered that self-publication is an ancient and honorable alternative. It won’t assure one of readers, but it at least scatters a few copies around for the ages to find.”]

EVIDENCE FOR THE DOCTRINE OF A SEPARATE CREATION by Judson Jerome

EVIDENCE FOR THE DOCTRINE OF A SEPARATE CREATION by Judson Jerome

alone

among the animals

man kills

his kind he has designs

mortality fills

his mind no velvet leopard ever

died for justice

slew with love

nor is his prey

politically assassinated

they

(the beasts)

are not inclined to suicide

 

orangutans

in cages sometimes may

jerk half

their adolescent hours away

and maybe a rare

chimpanzee

is gay

man’s friend the dog will mount

a leg or bitch

line up to take his turn

and not care which

but man

alone

goes rutting all the year

preferring almost any

to his mate

devising means to be

infertile

spraying

his seed like shells

laying to be laying it

takes a man

to copulate

in hate

he plugs up any orifice around

or finding none

will fertilize the ground

 

only

a man

would sew up skins to hide

his loins and decorate himself

in pride

or shame

tattoo scars on his flesh or wear

a badge to indicate his rank

slaves labor

deep in African earth

to deck blonde hair

with diamonds

whales are drained of ambergris

so that milady may outsmell her neighbor

no other species

some drug or drink to free

it from

its mind

beasts never go to war to fight for peace

 

man

measures time

gives names

he shapes the stone

aware of his own death

therefore at odds

with nature

he torments himself with gods

erect

among the animals

alone

 

UNTITLED (a poem) by Theodor Hendrick End

UNTITLED (a poem) by Theodor Hendrick End

I admire you,

Not for your fame

or popularity

not for your skills

or awards

not for your money

or possessions.

I admire you

for not turning back in the darker days

or becoming cold

in life’s winters

for continuing to sacrifice your life

so that someone

you will never know

or meet

may for a moment,

despite all they might be going through,

find some good in the world.

and even now

in the beauty of your ripened age

you sit upon the throne of servant hood

devoutly,

diligently

molding the souls of tomorrow

planting a harvest

you know

you will never see

–Grandpa–

LOVING MY ENEMIES (a poem) by Judson Jerome

LOVING MY ENEMIES (a poem) by Judson Jerome

I must love my enemies: I have made

so many of them. Whether I, drowning, flailed

rescuers, or, terrier-nervous, yapped,

defending God knows what from God knows whom,

or thought I was the jester, licensed to wound,

I drove you all away. I wanted room

 

to grow my crooked stem, so sprouted thorns,

or, as self-consuming candle, blindly burned

in guttering isolation, or vacuum-drained–

as a black hole does the sky–all warmth and light.

Emperor of sunny nursery play.

I took all as due, nor wondered how or why.

 

Pursuit of justice was a good excuse

to wear the jackboots of some public cause

and stab a friend for a stranger’s brief applause.

It simplified affection’s murky snarl

to make such clean incisions. I have hurled

babies and bathwater out for a better world.

 

fast too soon, my overwhelming wave

of self too bountiful, too gladly given.

To save yourselves from my self you were driven

if not to anger to politic escape.

I said I love you: you foresaw a rape.

 

You must have loved me, enemies, to have left.

dreading the waste and smother of my gift.

sensing my naked need to be received.

Hard love withholds indulgence; you withheld.

Such closeness both of us would soon have scalded.

You could avoid what could not be repelled.

 

Safer, of course, to love thus at a distance–

a dream of faces gone, but nearly kissed–

blending across the years without resistance.

yin lost in yang, and none knows when or how.

But there is safety even in my bower.

for I love you still–but do not need you now.

 

 

 

ALL THE SORE LOSERS by Judson Jerome

ALL THE SORE LOSERS by Judson Jerome

“You win,” he said, and shrugged. She nodded,

in dark recesses chalking one more score.

(A stave gave way in her corset, but

she thought she would not need it any more.)

 

That night she took a torch, descending

by dripping stairs her endless, echoing halls.

The flame was smoky, oily, but

gleamed on the trophies ranked along the walls.

 

Eight shapes of sweating brass were lovers

frozen in postures of athletic play,

graceful, with swollen muscles, but

corroding here beyond the reach of day.

 

Here were the scalps of ladies who

befriended her, and then revealed their faults.

She bore their smiling manners, but

their stinking pelts now hung here in these vaults.

 

A golden likeness of her daughter

evoked the time she found that trollop wrong.

She had her son in silver, but

did he give up–or merely go along?

 

With her husband she had taken pains

to get him, not at once, but piece by piece.

Thus no one saw him suffer, but

grow daily leaner as she grew obese.

 

Now picking over his bone structure 

she knew where he was fallible, joint by joint,

so durable and pearly, but

he steadily surrendered, point by point.

 

and now, she reckoned, had lost track

of all his losses and the total due.

She cackled, counting. Time would prove

that she and she alone was right. She knew.

 

 

I FEAR THEM–THEY MUST DIE! by James Merritt

I FEAR THEM–THEY MUST DIE! by James Merritt

I fear them for they look different,

I fear them so they must die,

I fear them for they believe different

I fear them so they must die

I fear them because I am poor

I fear them so they must die

I fear them for they have different sex

I fear them so they must die

I fear them for I cannot accept myself

I fear them so they must die

I fear them because I am told to

I fear them so they must die

I fear them because I do not understand

I fear them so they must die

I fear them for lack of education

I fear them so they must die

I fear them because I was raised to

I fear them so they must die

I fear fear

I fear them so they must die!