Who is to say if this paper skin, this name I carry
is the crux of myself, scratched with the imprints
of recollections culled by my senses between these
dice throws of days that cash my wheeling fortune?
These loitering memories, they say they are mine
but may just be panhandlers awaiting a pause
in the next indecision that pretends to be wisdom
for a split of distraction, and then take their shelter.
Where is my home, my sanctuary of long legend
that is said to afford some sweet dollop of peace,
some seconds reprieve from the broadcaster chatter
and their woebegone oversold news of the world?
Compared to the finery in ever shorter supply,
this skin, this name seems a trick or treat costume
ever made on the cheap, that both tatter and tear
on the snares of the snide and on secondhand slights.
Are not all of us homeless on the well trodden road,
deceived by the thought that our breath and our pulse
are the proof of a person, of the dodging of peril
we mistake for delight in these lingering lives?
What spectacular frauds we amend by the hour
just to say that our story was the tale we foretold
in the charts of our stars and our planets maligned
and the fictions best sold as our skins and our names.
About the Poem
This poem expresses uncertainty about the manner in which we think of ourselves as the identities we inhabit and come to know during mortal life. Some of us come to see our bodies as ourselves. Some of us think we are our name, our family, and our reputation. But as someone who believes in the eternal majesty of a self whose being transcends all these mental cartoons, I think such things are convenient shorthand at best and not to be confused with that which makes us who we truly are.
This poem is previously unpublished in print. This poem was finished December 11, 2012.