Although You cannot Bless

Oh look, look in the mirror,
O look in your distress;
Life remains a blessing
Although you cannot bless

–W.H. Auden

Although You cannot Bless

My life remains a blessing
I’m thankful every day
And yet it leaves me guessing
To whom then I should pray

My planet’s seven billion
I’m clearly near the top
God knows how many millions
Feed on gruel and slops

In the slums of Rio
A waif who could be me
Was shot by a policeman
Who does this for a fee

I never curse my Maker
I cherish every breath
I’m not a bellyacher
Exalt unto my death

You tell me my good fortune
Is contingent on His grace
As if God were a human
Who lives in outer space

But that leads me to wonder
Exactly who to scold
When so many are pushed under
By the knowing and the bold

You say to all who suffer
“It’s according to His plan”
Because it’s so much tougher
To explain the ways of man

Humans are not central
In this big old universe
And we only have each other
For better and for worse

(Note on Light Verse: Kurt Vonnegut complained that critics mistook Science Fiction for a urinal, and that’s how I feel about Light Verse, as any rhymed and metered poetry not written by Richard Wilbur is derisively categorized. Even when Phyllis McGinley writes of nuclear annihilation, it’s not really that serious, it’s just light verse. At least it’s nice to see Dorothy Parker and Ogden Nash beginning to sneak into the anthologies.)

by Richard W. Bray

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