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The poetry of Alexander Doodis

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When the voice inside you screams, "YOU CANNOT DO IT!!!"
- that is the time you must sit down and write.

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Excerpt from, "The Futile Struggles of I.M. Graves."

SUNRISE:

IM Graves lays on a crumpled bed,
a dirty coffee cup, an alarm clock
thrown on the floor.
His neck stretches left to right
then left again as his shoulders tighten
to the possibility of standing up.
He glances the window a meditative glance
and the voices of the newly-weds next door
mingle with the voices in his head.
It is not yet sunrise, thinks IM Graves,
and the air is crisp and clear
and all that lives
lives inside me; between my ears
is all I see and hear and taste
and smell and feel
and nothing exists outside
except what I sense inside
and the only order in the world
is the order I make
from the chaos in my head;
and the only truths are the truths I create
from the absurdities in my head
and the only reality is the reality that screams,
"I exist..."
and the only word that sticks to my mind
and can't come out is,
"... alone!"

Alone with the world that I create in my head,
the only life that exists
is the life I create in my head.
Life?
We are dead before we are born
and we are dead after we die
and in between these deaths
is an intermission called 'life,'
a tiny stream meandering slowly
below two cliffs,
between the two escarpments of death
and all my stream experiences
is what my stream creates-
it comes from one ocean
and flows into another.
From the moment of its birth
my stream flows inexorably
to its final destination,
and the trickle in between I call, 'life'.
Every moment from its birth my stream is dying,
moment by moment,
inch by inch,
drop by drop.
"I am a stream," thinks IM Graves. "A meandering stream
dreaming of becoming a raging river."
As soon as I was born I started to create,
believing I was destined for immortality;
and at the same moment I knew that at every moment
I was dying.
Life is a mistake, meandering between two truths-
death and death.
So how do I reconcile these two forces,
this irony of existence-
knowing I am dying but wanting to create;
where will my courage to continue and
to struggle come from? thinks IM Graves.
"Oh this is a cruel and futile game."

"Dig deeper within yourself, dig deeper,"
a voice thunders in his ear.
"And why do you complain before the sun has shone?"
"Look at me, pity me!" cries IM Graves,
realizing he is shouting at himself.
"Yourself?" thunders the voice again.
"You know nothing.
Look at you,
you worship the tears that sting your eyes.
you worship the blood that stains your hands
you worship the grime that cakes your soul.
Your eyes, your hands, your soul
are devoured, eaten by your cries of
'Pity me, pity me.'
You demand miracles, proof that life is worthwhile,
yet all you have to do is open your eyes;
the miracles are all around you,
they are all around you, every second of every day;
they are yelling in your ear but you are deaf
they are in every thing you touch but you cannot feel
they are in your heart but instead
you focus on the madness dredging your soul
through moment by moment eternities of,
'Pity me,
pity me.' "

"Leave me alone," cries IM Graves.
"Whatever you are, I don't believe in you.
This world is too small for me,
I need something bigger, something satisfying."

"You want something bigger,
yet you cannot conquers
the little that you have,
and your heart is never satisfied.
You need God!
And I,
I who have not conquered the Totality
cry for something smaller-
the Universe is too big for me,
and I need Man."

IM Graves sits on the edge of his bed,
holding yesterday's shirt
that will today be worn again.
God?
Is he hearing the voice of God?
IM Graves laughs to himself,
then aloud.
"This is a trick. I don't believe in God!"

"Don’t believe in me," the voice whispers.
"I will only break your heart;
I am your enemy
because I will not MAKE you happy-
you must do that for yourself.
I am fear and anger and frustration,
you must be the master of your own happiness."

"Happiness?" thinks IM Graves, turning yesterday's
socks inside out.
"Wouldn't you think we humans would be
used to your torments by now?
No! We choose to suffer still.
Wouldn't you think we humans would have
learned patience, faith and love by now?
No! We choose to be impatient,
unbelieving and angry... still.
We only seek to perfect our delusions
by better and better stories."
Choked IM Graves,
"How can I believe in your Word,
when I cannot trust my own?"

"And that is my fault," sighed the voice.
"I sat down one day and thought
I'd create children of fear
so they can behave themselves,
and I would tempt them to see if they obey
and learn to be happy."

"What are you?" hissed IM Graves,
slipping on his beige leather sneakers.
"God or Devil? Who can tell you apart?
God is sometimes evil and Satan good
and Man is confused, suffering a wound he cannot heal
alone, a wound caked with the salt of
shame and fear and anger,
and Man runs from his shame and fear and anger
and has never stopped running."

"All the struggles of Man are a mockery,"
snickers the voice. "As it is God and Satan
who fight each other-
and we are ONE-
It is all God fighting his inner self.
Why does God torment?
Because he himself is tormented.
Yes, I sometimes take the evil road,
but I cannot run as Man runs
and I look at Man running and cry,
'Humans, I despise you, I despise you,
I despise you because you are me!' "

"So you love Man in the abstract only and
not in the suffering of the human mind,
to that man is left to his own devices;
and Man is not of your image,
you are of ours.
You have clamped our minds
in a cage of obedience and..."

"Stop!" yells the voice. "You are the chosen people
and I bring you the hope of a great Messiah,
but first you must conquer pain,
because pain is knowledge."

"Chosen people?" spits IM Graves,
knotting his tie.
"Promised land? Kingdom of heaven?
Messiah?
we are all the messiah,
you have given us the CURSE of hope in a Messiah
and hope breeds deception, not faith.
Hope is the opposite to faith.
Only faith breeds love, but you do not offer that."

"I will not give happiness freely.
Why should I give something I myself do not possess?
Man should thank me for the fear I give to him
as it is the path,
the only path to true happiness.
Man must approach
the dividing line between flesh and soul,
then cross that line
into the struggle for happiness.

"I cross that line every second of every day,"
cries IM Graves slipping on his jacket.
"And in all the misery you provide
to teach me happiness, you deposit
tiny nuggets of paradise;
yet you own the entire mine.
There is no reason for me to have faith in you."

"I am a dead fruitless tree-
Man's life is IN the world,
it lives in the detail-
in all that is ordinary and
my inner turmoil is the world’s turmoil.
I certainly got myself in trouble
when I created this world," grimaced the voice.
Man should thank me for everything
for the loneliness
for the hunger
for the suffering
for overcoming those is the path to true happiness."

"Yes. I should thank God for bringing me to a place
I do not wish to explore," thought IM Graves sarcastically
as he brushes his hair.
"For here I can learn. Oh pity me!"

"NO!!! Pity me," cries the voice.
"Having to listen to you these past 10,000 years.
I will not change my plans,
nor will not forgive you.
you must be a human and take it.
I will tempt you
and you will either cry, "Pity me,"
or look into your soul and struggle to be happy,
and struggle hard IM Graves, for tomorrow
you will be happy?"

"Tomorrow? Tomorrow!
Always tomorrow
Always tomorrow
Always tomorrow
the promise of a new Jerusalem
always tomorrow."
"This is a blood thirsty God," thought IM Graves,
ready to face the working day.
"He is immortal because he does not fear death.
Man cannot be happy unless he first leans
over the edge of the precipice, and God warns
'I am the precipice, better stay away.' "

Both man and god will suffer
until each is fed up with their misery,
and then a little bit more.
Why does God torment Man?
Because he loves us.

"That’s not good enough", cries IM Graves,
slamming shut the front door.

(c) doodis

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The Futile Struggles of I.M. Graves, Australian Poetry by Poet doodis, Australian Poems, Alexander Doodis is Australia's most popular and widely read leading poet and one of the greatest contemporary poets writing in English. Links to best modern contemporary australian poem, poems, poetry by Alexander Doodis poet, modern Australian poetry