No Useful Illusions

What useful illusions we once had are gone:
that governments serve, that the lowliest pawns
with slow forward motion may yet become kings.
How quickly it seems that the simplest things

become complicated and mired in deceit,
and minor successes engulfed by defeat;
despite constant vigil and unending toil,
the fruits of one’s labors will wither and spoil.

And those who claim otherwise, believing luck
to be the foundation of bargains yet struck,
are lost to insanity greater than most:
that we are prized guests of some kind, noble host

who when we plead hunger, will provide the bread.
‘Tis more often shadows of crust, and instead
of a table of succulent dishes and wine,
more often takes form in less pleasant design.

What artifice leads us, in spite of these truths,
to believe in justice beyond tender youth
and strive for no purpose, for unseen reward,
each beyond the true means that they can afford,

to trust in a government built on such things
as man’s dignity and hope’s gossamer wings,
and think that the tightrope we cross at the top
of the tent has a net below for when we drop?

Illusion, illusion. There is little use
in hoping one’s neck out of reach of the noose;
and justice? Like vultures, the lynch mob rides in,
an anonymous mask for a number of sins.

04 DEC 2005

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