Tuesday Poem: The Ultimate Return

“They need you to become like the rest; mechanical, obedient, chained to your social role.”

In the early dark before dawn
I awake with a dreary feeling
of death dripping from my eyelids.
I sit up in bed and listen
to the echoes of oblivion
haunt my room. The emptiness
of 4am streetlights stream into
my dreams. The euphoric caress
of madness. A poignant
premonition of the
inevitable. All my yesterdays
converge into the nothingness
I am at this moment.

You poor sap, where
have the days gone?
What have you done?
Why does it ache so much
to be a finite creature
in an infinite

So much of our passing lives
are spent drifting along
on the surface
of our everyday consciousness
hiding behind the social
mask, too frightened
to take the necessary
plunge into the abyss of

The banality of the hours
becomes the banality
of life. I’m neither
happy nor sad
because it’s all too
senseless to be either.

Sauntering through this
bureaucratic age of
death and sterility
with a marred mind
and heedful eyes,
I bleed alone
with a half-smile on my aging face
wondering how long I can keep
the wolf of insignificance
at bay.

Gazing into the bathroom mirror
has become too much to bear.

The fierce thirst
I once had
for the
elixir of life
has waned.

I’ve grown weary of the fight against
the ways of the world, the moral
demands, the normalcy of the
façade, the binding ties
of obligations, the tribal feuds,
the pathetic protocols of
the unlived,
the unpoetic masses
with their unpleasant
pettiness, tired of the
endless pursuit
of illusions
in an effort to tongue kiss
the elusive lips of

Our pursuits
our actions
our tedious haste
are nothing more than
anxious attempts
to escape the torments of
our finite presence. An escape
from the awareness of
the brevity of life.
We spend our days trying
to get somewhere
but there’s nowhere to get to.
We dilute the experience
of the moment with a false
sense of hope
and a laborious longing
for a resolution that
never comes.

In spite of all the “truth” and
“reason” in this vulgar world,
we know very little. Yet, it’s the
unknowable that holds
the treasure we seek —
the darkness, the seat
of the soul that we’re too
afraid to explore and coalesce
with the light of our

Perhaps it’s a romantic deception, but
I believe in that unattended darkness
within. There’s a mysterious
current guiding our lives.
I’ve felt its presence all my days —
an ethereal force,
an unrest,
a transcendent whisper —
that forbidden fruit
dangling from the primordial tree
of our inner garden.

I don’t know what to make of it.

The Upanishads tell us: The Self,
though hidden in all beings,
does not shine forth but can
be seen by those subtle seers,
through their sharp and
subtle intelligence.

The Greeks called it the daemon,
the genius, the guardian.
We all harbor it in the
obscure regions of
our inner life.

Yet, society and its godlike
try to snuff it out in our youth,
this hidden power within us,
and they never stop. They try to
school it out of us; they try
to preach and pray it out
of us. They throw the heavy
nets of “social duty” upon us.
They’ll even attempt to subdue
this vital force with
pharmaceuticals and therapy
to help guide you away from
its potent influence.

They need you to become like
the rest; mechanical, obedient,
chained to your social role.

But for some people, this force
is too strong to be tamed
or throttled back. It wants
to be heard and to throw off
the shackles of the life-denying
demands of the status quo. To flip
over the tables of conventionality.
To obey its own laws.

Our bodies are the mere instrument
of this deeper force.

Through it all, I kept that dark
guardian in there,
tucked back in the shadows,
revealing no signs to the
external world
of its eternal influence.
At times, when I’m alone,
it emerges from the immortal sea
of the unconscious and yanks me
from clutches of the profane
and into an erotic aloofness
where the illusions fade
and the boundaries disintegrate
and the desire for mortal gain

Though I do not know how I got here,
or what it all means, I know that the
same hidden force which has
carried me to this moment
will also guide me to that
imperishable hour we
call fate.

And I will doff the gross garments
of a false existence and
ascend that sanctified mountain,
emancipated at last from the
lifeless stone of reality,
reborn into the eternal realm
of celestial vistas and enchanted
gardens, a place beyond the
illusions of opposites, where the
struggle between life and death,
dark and light, heaven and hell
finally subsides,
and a radical unification
of mind, body, and soul
ensues, and I will dance
that Dionysian dance
on the other side of the veil
where flower-haired nymphs’ bathe
in misty morning ponds,
and the water lilies
are forever in bloom,
and the lush, streamside meadows
rejoice beneath
the infinite blue skies
as the cosmic wind
what little remains
of my war-torn

The ultimate return.

–By: Erik Rittenberry at Poetic Outlaws

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