Sunday Poem: Old Self

Illustration despardes.com

I chanced across my old self
today. I was sitting in the second
floor office where I used to work —
at the typewriter, young, thin guy,
in his late 20’s, white shirt, narrow
dark tie, serious demeanor, writing
as essay against the Vietnam war.

I came up the stairs and saw him —
a decent human being, diligent,
not remotely aware of the ambush
life had waiting — not knowing
he’d permit himself to be taken
prisoner then, in confusion,
do desperate things, betray
what he loved — and that nothing
would enable him to survive
as he was.

I passed the open door
and wanted to cry out — warn him,
force the warriors to raise
their spears. But even hearing
my shout, he would have only
hesitated, then turned back to
his devoted, lonely interminable
work.

by Lou Lipsitz
from Seeking the Hook
Signal Books, 1997

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