Feeling Sorry for Myself -- Charles Harper Webb
I start with a groan, swelling to a moan,
rising to a keen, ascending
to a shriek that tapers off in a thin wail.
I hug myself and, whimpering,
rock back and forth on my heels.
No one has ever known such sadness.
No one can grasp how I feel.
I smash an egg over each eye.
I smear my face with coal and pepper.
I wear a paper bag soaked through
with spoiled watermelon and pork grease.
I shred my happy past - my books,
pictures, and poems, published or not.
I'll never fly fish again.
I'll never make love again.
I'll never sit outside and watch night
stretch its starry tent over the sky.
There will be no more metaphors.
I am more sorrowful than a sorrowing man.
Life has no more meaning to me
than a life without meaning.
My heart slows. My blood congeals
to brown, vein-clogging mush.
My stomach goes on strike; my colon
bars its door. People assume
I'm terminal. They imagine what
would make them feel the way I look,
and project their paltry problems onto me.
As if they could fathom my misery
by waterwinging over its abyss!
My pain is too heavy to lift,
too vast to measure, too ineffable to name,
and incalculably too precious to share.
I dig my grave in a landfill, and topple in.
I rub dirt and dog droppings in my hair.
I've sunk so low its funny; so I start to giggle.
Then to chortle. Then to roar. Mothers
clutch their bleating kids, and rush away.
Gangbangers dash to the far side of the street.
I crawl out of my grave, strip, and shower
with a gunk-filled water hose.
shake and shiver, grinning, in the filthy air.
~ Charles Harper Webb ~
So, this past week I was so tired and so stressed out and felt so overworked and unappreciated that I had to build an escape route or I was going to self-destruct. I had to make a trip to Berea anyway to bring the sweet boy home, so I added in a couple extra days to retreat and rest. By yesterday when the above poem came across my desk I had regained my sense of humor enough to laugh at the pieces of myself I saw in it. And today by the time I got to Waddy and had played Oh God Our Help In Ages Past very loudly several times, I was really restored and could have gone on home right then. By the time I got to Berea, I was so in love with my family and my life at home I could hardly stand it. Just those hours of alone time in the car were the good medicine that my weary spirit needed. How wise my family is to know that time alone is what fuels me to love them more. Wonder what else I will learn about myself this weekend?