Beware, good Christian, if you ask the Lord
to throw you some of his humility,
for in his spirited agility
He’ll grant you all his graces can afford.
Your wit, your charm, they’ll come to be abhorred.
You’ll come to doubt your own civility,
call into question your virility.
No tic or wart will loiter unexplored.
Yet never underestimate your pride:
it takes your noblest efforts in its stride.
You’ll soon begin to think your lowly mien
the envy of the saintly brotherhood,
and passing by a glass, your image seen,
think even sackcloth’s never looked this good.


Jeffrey Essmann’s prose work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and numerous magazines and literary journals, his poetry in America Magazine and Dappled Things. He lives in New York City.

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