Monday, December 31, 2012

Poem: Exercise

Take the category “Enemy,”
And purify it.

Remove from it the people you’ve identified
To be culpably ignorant.
Purge it also of the names of those
Who simply annoy you.
Leave in it only the fellow-beings
Who truly wish you ill.
You know--
The ones who’d kill you
If their church or government
Would bless it.

Then, pick just one of them.

Next, consider that the difference
Between you and him
May be as slight as the thickness of a piece of paper
In a book as thick as the universe.
Slighter than that, really,
But you get the idea.
Consider that, in the midst of his bad intentions,
He gets lonely, embarrassed,
frightened sometimes,
Like you do.
Forget for a moment that he deserves it.
Then imagine him in the role of
Someone’s loving mother
And consider that such a thought is not unreasonable.
No need to get all romantic about it.
If, in the midst of this,
Thoughts of your holiness for trying this exercise arise,
You can quash them by reminding yourself
How much you hate the son of a bitch.
Then: Hit yourself in the face with him every morning
If you pray, pray for him.
If you send out good intentions, include him in them.
If you wish for peace on earth,
Don’t imagine that peaceful Earth without him.
Even if you don’t really mean it.
Keep it up, as long as you have a mind capable of doing it.

Here’s what will happen:
Your heart will get softer,
Maybe just a bit, maybe a lot,
Not only toward him, but toward
Everyone else on the Enemy list,
And toward yourself too.
For you’ll learn that the differences between any of us
Are insignificant enough

To be laughable.
And that changes everything.

Or, if not--
If it doesn’t work,
And your heart doesn’t thaw--
You tried.
And that changes everything too.

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