The Way of the World

Some horrid truth seems now made manifest:
__Some nothingness tucked in the human core
Parades itself as fullness and the best
__In us—our grace, our reason—sore distorts.
__In mirror after mirror we adore
____A god more false than any made of stone,
____Whose heaven is a place where everyone’s alone.

The nothingness, however, isn’t true:
__It vaguely smells of apple and of snake,
The ethers old that make us misconstrue
__Creation’s mystery as a great mistake.
__But those who know its strange Creator quake
____Before a light that strikes Unreason blind
____(And, for that matter, Reason also far outshines).



Jeffrey Essmann is an essayist and poet living in New York. His poetry has appeared in numerous magazines and literary journals, among them Agape Review, America Magazine, Dappled Things, the St. Austin Review, U.S. Catholic, Grand Little Things, Heart of Flesh Literary Journal, and various venues of the Benedictine monastery with which he is an oblate. He is editor of the Catholic Poetry Room page on the Integrated Catholic Life website.

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4 Responses

  1. Roy E. Peterson

    The last two lines of the first verse are particularly trenchant and dead on the mark! I join you in your thoughts about the contemporary malaise of our society!

    • Julian D. Woodruff

      I second Mr. Peterson. And this is is the “heaven on earth” we’ve become ever more adept at building.

  2. Cynthia Erlandson

    “It vaguely smells of apple and of snake” is such a brilliant, yet subtle and succinct, way of not letting the (literate) reader miss the intended meaning, without stating it outright or in a prosaic way. And “In mirror after mirror we adore / A god more false than any made of stone” not only evokes Narcissus, but creates great imagery which supports the meaning. A great statement of the sad truth of fallen humanity.

  3. Margaret Coats

    A concept well thought out and expressed. Excellent balancing of the two parts, and strong, conclusive use of the couplet in both, with the final line in each being longer. A brief masterpiece opening beyond atomistic narcissism into ineffable light.


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