POETRY: Man the Master, by Thomas Merton

Man the Master, by Thomas Merton

Here comes man the master
The all-time winner
With guns and vehicles
Ready to celebrate
Six billion busy selves
Here he comes
Bursting with individuals
All his bellies fat and clean
Umpire of the big skin game
With innumerable wits and plans
Nations and names problems and resolutions
With all his eyes on spaces

Here comes John the Master with his knuckles
And his skins all shaved
Shining and paid for
Assured he smells
Like a good example
Smart in the dream of dials
Where he is alone great
With all causes in his own hand
This is his lucky day

Here comes John with the chin
The all-time winner
To lead his squad against himself
Into the fiery question
(Each is his own question
Each pumps deadly lights
In honor of his own answer
Each is his answer)
John always plays to win
Because he is leader
In action and honor
Because he is Master he succeeds
Exploding all his selves
With ever greater distinction
Right in the center
Of his own building

Here he comes again
Ever more and more the Master
Father and cocky number one boy
Swinging and winning he will always enjoy
The fun-loving spread eagle that restores
And signals happiness
With punch and needle
On the weak vacation and he will spray
The enemy right on the table
Doctor Business is his smiling complaint
While the expensive whimper
Of each little hidden wish
Can tell mother
The model fantasy disease
Of old Father and young Number
(Even a billion more of the same)
Why it is so simple
Not to get well

So anyway he comes and comes with new planets
Master of classified intentions
With homeward roses and fibs
And plans redder than Mars for the female
He stands his drink alone or falls home
In graver trouble
Yes here comes big John the same
To his religious door with dagger and flu
Beefing and cross-eyed true to love and debt
Seeking to understand the Catholic home
The cornflake cathedral and brassy wedded nun
Who is insured but never nice and tame
To the Master to John’s selves
Breeding when they like
Liking the OK canon and army

Such are the hopes such are the confusions
Such are the selves with shaved heads
With individual wants and certitudes
Each trying to define his own bravery
With “I-John    I-the Capital Person
I-Tarzan and Christian”
Ready to stick out all over
Keeping in full control of selves cancers
Weights taxes and debts
Braving the planets
And brand new disorders
The briskly blazing existential home
Till I continue in spite of all Master
Still drunk and all still anaesthetized
Co-pilot of my mangled star

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