Theodore Roethke


Diffuse the outpourings of the spiritual coward,
the rambling lies invented for the sick.
O see the fate of him whose guard was lowered! -
A single misstep and we leave the quick.

Flesh behind steel and glass is unprotected
From enemies that whisper to the blood;
The scratch forgotten is the scratch infected;
The ruminant, reason, chews a poisoned cud.

Platitudes garnished beyond a fool's gainsaying;
The scheme without purpose; pride in a furnished room;
The mediocre busy at betraying
Themselves, their parlors musty as a funeral home.

Though the devouring mother cry, "Escape me?
       Never - "
And the honeymoon be spoiled by a father's ghost,
Chill depths of the spirit are flushed to a fever,
The nightmare silence is broken. We are not lost.

spoken = David Juda