when i was young and raw and mixed
open as a road far from fixed
i let within all earth illusion
and laughed at every mind confusion

but time then forged a wary shield
welded block in magnetic field
and spears to throw when threats arose
weapons against potential foes

and barricaded in self-protection
i fought the world’s increased rejection
learned to look on each new advance
with narrow eye suspicious glance

if i try to tell this change of heart
to those who’ve yet to play the part
i squander hours still left to spend
and gamble the chance for a happy end

each privileged man pursues his taste
picks what’s precious from the waste
selects what suits discards the rest
in quest for all that’s bright and best

but poor and hungry and dispossessed
don’t have the chance to choose the best
they dream what dreams are sent their way
and watch in grief while others play

and at the close they cannot say
‘i had a chance i threw away’
they pass unmentioned and unsung
to the nothingness whence they come

and i despite acquired protection
shall also pass without detection
into the labyrinth of the dead
wrapped and boxed from toe to head

so why the struggle against illusion
and rejection of all past confusion
when the reward i shall acquire
is the selfsame quenching of desire?

if i hadn’t fought when i had the chance
there’d be little point to this frail romance
since i’d have spurned the gift of choice
given in faith to a privileged voice

55 thoughts on “privilege

  1. Hello John,

    I was reading about privilege earlier today. Your words are so fresh and send my thoughts all over. This was lovely. Thank you for this today.



  2. Life’s deep impressions leave their marks like scars. And, like scars, we grow thick and obvious despite our attempts at discretion. Regret and 20/20 hindsight are ruthless house guests. Riveting, John.

  3. Without the humanely obligatory self auditing of past performance we lose touch the stinging realities that are the paths of the world’s majorities. What a shame to have never compassionately examined the living portion of the human spirit’s journey of those so less fortunate. Equality is the sure and certain visit of the Grim Reaper. None shall elude or delay when it is his intention to complete his divine mission. You have it all here John. Our lives are almost over before we at last become cognizant of what we have done who we have become in life as a result of our privileges, save for the majority who have had not. This rings clear as a church bell on a Winter Sunday morning. “And the earth shall have us all.” Thank you for this journey of the human spirit. Ever your friend, Jon Michael

  4. A wonderful commentary in poetry! I liked “i fought the world’s increased rejection” – perfect line for an author. Your words reminded me a little of Ozymandius. We only remain as long as the last person’s memory of us; time erase us all.

  5. Gifts of life…choices…never easy…often squandered…often denied and cut short…lucky are only few who can say at the end I made the right choice…the dynamic of life – love it, John 🙂

  6. John, “privilege” a poignant commentary, especially stanza eight, we’re all equal at this point regardless of the “privileged voice”. I truly appreciate the structure of this piece, not only the thoughts behind your words but also the rhyme scheme used — WONDERFUL!

    Warm wishes,

  7. The privilege of living in a time and place where we can replace hearts and knees and even head strokes off is incredible. And the privilege of living in a time where ordinary people can communicate with one another across the world and where hearts and minds can be heard without the privilege of money or status or even exceptional talent.
    How fortunate we are.

  8. And in the end we are but nought. This is a fine poem, John, and the rhyme structure and rhythm add credence to the tone. To some extent we are all ‘privileged’, yet it is only with hindsight that this becomes apparent. A thoughtful reminder of the oppotunities that we have to do good.

  9. Dear John, this standout poem encapsulates your very essence – quality, understated, speaks volumes, simply stunning. The circle of life. This poem has to be shaken loose, to fly all over the globe. Eye-watering perfection.

  10. When poets use rhyme, it often comes off as “trying to hard”…the rhyme does not feel natural. You, however, have a true mastery of it.

    I especially love the flow of this stanza:

    each privileged man pursues his taste
    picks what’s precious from the waste
    selects what suits discards the rest
    in quest for all that’s bright and best

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