This poem appears in the Spring 2023 issue of Modern Age. To subscribe to the journal, click here.

From disenchantment’s stronghold where he hid,
He peered out at the animals called men;
Behind a pale of sharpened doubts, he bid
Unreason keep back with his anxious pen.

Unwelcome creeds and brash defiant zeal
Threatened him on one side, while on the other
Odd shibboleths defaced the commonweal;
Disquiet was his friend, and Fear his brother.

He was unstill like us, but kept his humor.
He smiled to see the rivalry of priest
And presbyter and ranter, and the rumor
Of second comings or of St. John’s beast

Provoked his irony. But then the night
Whispered at times to frighten him awake,
So to his desk he went once more to write
For calm and sanity and dry light’s sake.

An atheist not easily surprised
By kings, cabals, by statute, state, or tax;
His paranoiac genius deputized
A Giant to arrest aspiring Jacks.

Setting policemen round the civil garden,
He banished sect and faction, and outlawed
From the incredulous realm where he was warden
The stubborn echo of the ghost of God.