End of the Ball


When I was a young, adventurous lad,

I walked off the straight, wide road.

I wanted to see the dark and unknown -

the untraveled and the untold.

The thorns and the briars

and the poisonous tendrils


were thick and unmercifully cruel

as I picked my way

off of the highway

that had brought me so far from my home.

I struggled long and hard,

and it was painfully hot


in the sun on that mid-summer’s day.

Many a time, at the sting of a briar,

I thought, “What a fool you are.

Patch up your wounds,

let your mind not stray,

and return to your ‘civilized land’!”


Determined, I was, to finish my quest

for adventure and wondrous sights anew.

I pushed myself further and deeper

and harder than ever had I done before.

Stinging and itching and sweating and panting,

I stood in the midst of a court.


The royal subjects were majestic giants

who long had attended this ball,

and I - just a flash, like the swat of a fly

that happened to alight on the wall.

Thereupon the awesome thought occurred to me,

that I alone am just nothing to these,


but with my fellow man and tools at hand,

we can swat flies… or we can cut down trees.

Either or neither, it is up to us.

The potential is in our hands.

We can rape the Earth, pillage her stores,

and “make use” of every scrap of her land,


but perhaps, instead, we should be respectful and courteous,

and we should honor the court’s guest list.

After all, when intruders drop in and start a brawl,

and the guards are summonsed to arms,

the music stops, the crowd thins out,

and thus comes the end of the ball.


September 7, 1988


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