Communicator (communicator) wrote,

Atheist in a Foxhole

This is not much like the kind of poems I normally write. When I read it at my poetry workshop, it provoked quite a lot of discussion. My Quaker friend and my Sufi friend disagreed with it quite profoundly.

Atheist in a Foxhole

Wise people say
Love something bigger than yourself
Such as an ideal of goodness
Or the impartial processes of nature
And die for that
Or die in that
And it will comfort you
Give yourself up to the process
And your loss will be no loss

Through heroic effort
Which is almost beyond my imagination
I could slightly loosen
the grip of selfishness upon my soul
But I suspect that
When bad times come to test me
What I will feel
will be the renewed supremacy
of my selfishness
and pain, loneliness and despair

But no, stop thinking that and
Think again

When I have suffered or been in fear
At that extremity
I have felt calm and joyful
I have felt triumphant over life
Is this some lucky side effect
Of stress or the deprivation of oxygen?

How should I know?
How should you?

I do know
That this deliverance
Is not reward for effort or goodwill
For I have made no effort
And my will is not good
I am a fighting animal, clever and under-socialised

So, if you live in goodness and devotion
Do that for its own sake
There is no reward
For I who deserve nothing
Will get as good as you.
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