Friday, 2 November 2012

Never Call Me Names

I left school many years ago feeling a failure, and that feeling stayed with me for years.

One night, a complete stranger and I were chatting at a bar. He was a successful businessman staying at a local hotel. ‘It makes me mad,’ he said, ‘when people talk about success and failure. Some people seem to get what they want in life and others don’t. For a start, though, appearances are often deceptive. Besides, it isn’t what we think we want in life that counts, but what we know we have. If what we have makes us happy, that’s success.’

‘The trouble is,’ he went on, ‘ so many people don’t realize what they have because they are too busy wishing things different. Take me, for example. I’ve done well in my career and worked hard for it, but I’m looking for another job because I’ve finally woken up to the fact that I hardly see my wife and kids for weeks at a time. When I think of my family, that’s when I feel successful, not when I am checking my bank statement. I’ve been too busy trying to give them everything they need that I forgot they need me too, just as I need them.’

‘Look at what you need to make you happy, man, and go for it. Everyone’s needs are different so it follows that everyone’s measure of so-called success or failure will be different too, right?’

I could only nod and think on…

This poem is a kenning.


I wear no medals for battles won
nor will I ever walk on a red carpet
while everyone around me
applauds, begs me pause and lend
my signature to whatever
association with fame and fortune
may haunt and taunt us
at every turn, poor companion
to self-deception

It’s unlikely I will journey into space,
walk on the moon, find water on Mars
or even help repair a space station,
cross from pole to pole, raise the flag
on a mountain, pose with royalty,
leave my mark on the century - but
for getting older, growing closer
to nature, letting its finer spirituality
define my sexuality

What care I if no one speaks of me
in the same breath as classic writers
musicians, dancers, inventors,
founders of religions before they lost
their way, politicians suing
for peace where all around them
confounded by lies? I care not,
only that none should speak my name
in fear, pain or shame

Out of sheer spite, some call me Failure
that live among those who know better

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010

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