Poem: The Devil Never Sleeps

The Devil Never Sleeps

I sip my coffee. I read the news.

It is amazing how different it has been these past few days,
reading the news. Less loud, less cringy,
Less hate. A sense of possibilities. Good mornings.

But I am not the innocent I was twenty years ago.
I understand more than most how the devils hide,
how they fester, and lie in wait.

I fight my own each morning. Some more than others.
They are familiar, and sneaky, quiet some days,
violent on others. I know their tactics and they know mine.

Most days I win. I have good in my days.
The darkness gets pushed aside. Joy is the prize
and by mid morning most days, I claim it,

the tools of therapists and pastors, of lovers and friends
have power and I have, just, the strength to wield them,
a tired beserker at the tower’s top.

Let us not pretend. The devil lives in darkness.
And the voices of hate have not suddenly evaporated.
They fester still. In time, they will become emboldened again.

Predjudice, fear turned into anger, obscene pride,
the false strength of cruelty, racism, the need
to eat our own beautiful different children

and let them whither under our acts and words,
to keep “them” in their place, these things remain,
quieted for the day, but only for the day.

It is morning. I have put my own demons to bed for the day.
I can rest, but only for a time.
There is work to do, and it is the work of love,

hard work. Work that dares not rest for long.
We need to learn to become loud again,
to sing our songs of hope, banners flying,

remembering the battle is never over.

We have made that mistake before.
Believing love’s battle was won, that the things we said
in church, of all men being worthy,

worthy of love and care;
believing the things we said in school, of and for all,
believing them true, and that a century of progress

was a victory in itself. It was not.

There are no victories. That is the lesson of my life.
There is only progress, or regression.
Angels never die, but neither do devils,

and it is up to us mere mortals to fight their battles
again and again, choosing sides, aware we are just caretakers
not of what we say we believe, but what we actually believe.

I sip my coffee. I read the news.
There are new mistakes to make.
but this one I will not repeat.

There are no victories.
Only battles.
And this one is worth the fight.

About this poem

I lost my innocence twenty years ago. The details don’t matter. A bit late in life, but it taught me the lesson of this poem, that you can never think you have won. That is a particular flaw many of us who are more gentle, who believe all people matter and the ones hurting the most matter the most. (re: Black Lives Matter, Matthew 18:12–14, etc.). We have mistaken progress for something lasting.

It only lasts when we live it. And loudly.

Be well. Travel wisely,


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