Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Animal, Success

What, after all, is the success of a life
if not the bull’s-eye, hit
at the maximum range,
whether seen or not
by the indifferent crowd
or the riotous judges?

Celebrity, that vacuum,
makes its greatest
boy’s noise
as it, jeering, escapes,

turning into scorn
everything it admired,
just to prove (in case we hadn’t
gotten it) that it,
and only it,
makes and dandles and ruins
every reputation.

Yet how this foolish fellow
wanted to be admired,
to hear frank praise,
be faced-off with awe
and eyes humbled, dazed.

His vanity will feel
the scathing it asked for,
the laughing eyes,
the taste of the lash,
sooner than the oil
of admiration’s seed,
the puff of genius
for any of his deeds.

Few are chosen
to stand in the dance
that makes life half godlike,
half myth and half holy,
a life’s sacrifice, to honor
the impossible in time.

Fewer still fit the shadow
of the antique dream
out of life’s dust,
time’s cut and sweep,
the dream and its shabby realization,
the inevitable defeat of the impossible hope
in the cunning joke called human life,

and our refusal to laugh at the mocking
between the shake of a head and a fist,
the sleep and assent as we nod
between our dreams and our losses –
to slip on the cloak of the sacred
and mask the face of a god,

the human and divine overlapping,
bodying forth the holy
as they ghost away into paradise;
eternity breathing sweet nothings
into time's faithful ear.

The rest of us have only the mirror to fear.


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