Domain of Pain A piercing migraine or a throbbing toothache, A splinter underneath a fingernail, An upset stomach caused by too much fruitcake, And waiting for responses in the mail Are typical examples of distress A person is expected to endure Within this agonizing wilderness Until his passage to a farther shore. And add to this some grit stuck to an eyelid, Which needs ophthalmological relief In order to ensure our boats are guided To safety past tomorrow’s hidden reef. We have become accustomed to assaults By enemies that storm our nervous system, But that does not imply we praise their faults, Or that we shook their hands and promptly kissed them. Perhaps the worst indignity of all Is listening to crooked politicians Whose speeches, echoed from a bathroom wall, Bespeak a plethora of foul perditions. A World of Hurt Was mich nicht umbringt macht mich stärker. —Friedrich Nietzsche Sometimes a bit of pain is just what’s needed To regulate a misdirected life; In bygone days, no matter how one pleaded The torturer refused to spare the knife. Much more is learned from pain than gained from pleasure (Of this there’s never been the slightest doubt), And when it comes to wisdom made to measure Some pain is that which can’t be done without. Extreme discomfort is a model teacher Exacting swift repentance at a touch, For why on earth would any living creature Consent, for pleasure’s sake, to hurt so much. Forswearing objects of profane desire Does little to dispel the sting of grief, But pain, the universal Edifier, Cuts quickly to the core of one’s belief. Though cries of “I can’t take it any longer!” Arise from huddled masses all the time, If it don’t kill you, it’ll make you stronger Remains the standard global paradigm. First published in Trinacria Small Talk Writ Large She said I never seemed to find the time for conversations other than some light remarks pertaining to the weather. “I’m about to change that,” I replied, contrite. It started out as loose pajama talk, but when I told her that I thought she’d gained a pound or two, she raised her tomahawk and would have scalped me if I had remained within her reach. I rolled right off the bed and headed for the safety of the couch downstairs; she said that I would be a dead man if I ventured near the bedroom. Ouch! I hadn’t known there were forbidden topics whose mention would enkindle sudden wrath; the problem for congenital myopics like me is that it’s hard to do the math when numbers on the wall are out of focus. I’m thankful for my therapeutic wife who’s able to identify the locus of discontent and bring me back to life. Crapshoot Adornments that are saved for rainy days Have not the luster of a falling star, And neither do the beacons lost in haze Shine brightly for those searching from afar. Reflection is invested in the future, Though sometimes it is focused on the past, But never should an able farmer suture His destiny to things that cannot last. By neither plan nor serendipity Will anything go back to how it was, Because there is no cure for entropy— Disorder all the world is what it does. It’s possible to think that purpose matters, That good intentions pave the road to heaven, But mostly we’re directed by Mad Hatters Whose grand design is seven-come-eleven. With utmost care we’ve sown our living seed In fertile fields prepared with plow and harrow, But harvest-laden barns will not impede The headlong flight of time’s relentless arrow. First published in Roots in the Sky, Boots on the Ground C.B. Anderson was the longtime gardener for the PBS television series, The Victory Garden. Hundreds of his poems have appeared in scores of print and electronic journals out of North America, Great Britain, Ireland, Austria, Australia and India. His collection, Mortal Soup and the Blue Yonder was published in 2013 by White Violet Press.