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Three Poems by Wark Kelley

Never is Pain More

There can be pain more intense,
 and pain more keenly felt to skin

 or heart, but never is pain more
 persistent than one born and felt

 of mental isolation, and it is
 this leprous doubt for which

 there is no balm while living that
 beleaguers us poor agnostics, poor

 souls who elected themselves to
 seek God without the aid of faith.

 Artist's note:
         Sir Julian Huxley writes in his forward to Teilhard de Chardin's "The
Phenomenon of Man" that "It is no longer possible to maintain that science
and religion must operate in thought-tight compartments or concern separate sectors of light; they are both relevant to the whole of human existence. The religiously-minded can no longer turn their backs upon the natural world, or seek escape from its imperfections in a supernatural world; nor can the materialistic-minded deny importance to spiritual experience and religious feeling.
 A Ghost to the Flesh

 Love is that which binds us, one soul
 to another . . . and time is that which bends

 us, one soul hurtling, one catching.
 Love is an ember which smolders

 forever before it explodes, but one
 cannot light it or fan it, it has a time

 of its own, a mystery to even itself.
 Time is the silent sister of love, she

 is always there, a clear shadow,
 a ghost to the flesh of love who

will haunt you and trouble you
invisibly, and only when you grow

accustomed to her bedevilment --
when you suspect she never existed

at all -- only then will she explode
the ember and set you afire.

Love and time, they whisper together.

To Burn Myself
When doing right, there is a certainty,
one which brings its own righteousness,
and this should be sufficient to allow

a constant choice which can always be
known by its eager feeling, and to choose
otherwise would bring an equal discomfort.

Yet at the moment of choice, certainty
will often give way to the knowledge
how discomfort is brief and quickly

changes into the sharp pleasure that always
comes from choosing wrong . . . only later
the discomfort always returns as remorse.

I chose to avoid the pyre, and be assured this choice
brought quick relief, but it would not stay and soon
led to such keen remorse I had to burn myself away.

 Artist's note:
She was also the only person in history ever canonized as a saint of the
Catholic church who had once been executed as a heretic by the very same church.
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