Well, we die whether we stay together or fall apart.
Finally the world goes on its way without us.
The most scourge-like name alive today will one day
be spoken seldom if at all. To what purpose
this sighing and raging? To what purpose this pain?
The main thing is to be a part of one's time,
no matter which side seems to be winning. It's OK
to be a noble failure, a fool in the eyes of the world,
to die in the relentless faith of a Pete Seeger
or Rachel Carson. The big truck taking up so much
space will one day come to the end of its road.
Insults will be forgotten. Offended decency
will be forgotten. In a hundred years, new
people and new problems. And we can be
sure there will be some glory in being alive
in just their moment, as there is in ours.
Even as I write and as you read, the termites
of ruin are chewing day and night at the under-
side of the hypocrite's mask that shines with
such shameless intensity in the national
spotlight. The time to speak is always now.
Say your truth if only for those who may be
listening from the galleries of dead and unborn,
if not the childish public locked in their
death tango with destruction. Reserve for yourself
days of uninterrupted silence in which to hear
those things that have settled in your heart most deeply
sing their faithfulness beneath time's altering sky.
Thomas R. Smith has had hundreds of poems published on three continents. In the United States, his poems and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. His poems were included in Editor's Choice II (The Spirit That Moves Us Press), a selection of the best of the American small press, and in The Best American Poetry 1999 (Scribner). His work has reached wide national audiences on Garrison Keillor's public radio show Writer's Almanac and former US Poet Laureate Ted Kooser's syndicated newspaper column, American Life in Poetry. His most recent book of poems is The Glory from Red Dragonfly Press.