Poem: The Devil’s Lie

The Devil’s Joke

Ignore the skulls on the stairs,
their beached white boneness
against the red velvet and walnut,
counterpoints to the luxury of the moment,
the lavishness of another era.

Run you fingers on the hand carved bannisters.
Feel the grain in the wood,
the smooth finish that enhances that same grain.
Bend down. Let your fingers brush the velvet.
Smell the flowers in the hallway below,
their fragrance sweet and cloying,
rich magnolia fills the air. Breath it in.

Savor the light from the stained glass
at the top of the stairway. Blues and reds
and wild yellows. The interplay of sun
and shadows.

But ignore the skulls,
their gaping death faces jarring
against the golden hour,
the devil’s joke, designed to steal attention
away from the beauty
all around you.

About this poem

I have been pain free since yesterday afternoon, for the first time since early July. What struck me this morning as I looked out at the Victorian arbor my wife gave me for my birthday, arching over the Rose of Sharon with it’s vibrant pink blooms and humming birds come to break their fast: what struck me as I savored the beautiful contours of my wife’s face as we had coffee; what struck me as I breathed in the air was how pain, physical or emotional, robs us of our ability to appreciate the glories of life.

The devil’s lie.



  1. Interesting I first read “Victorian ARMOUR” until your referenced the Rose-of-Sharon and realized my mental error- although on reflection she really has given you an armour made of love. Sending Light and keeping you in meditations to remain pain free.

  2. Having just finished, “The Problem of Pain,” by CS Lewis, I think your words, and intriguing photo, help put things in perspective. Having now been mostly sedentary for almost 6 months due to back pain from both years of poor posture, etc., recovery from a successful surgery and then my stupid ladder accident, I know how pain’s presence is a different lens through which we see life around us.

    Thanks, Tom.

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