I’m a Poet (poem)

night lighthouse

I see pride all around me
Though I’m often quite confused
About the variety of reasons
For which the word is used.

Some are proud of country
And some are proud of race.
Others are proud just because
They have an attractive face.

But what do all these things say
About a person’s actual worth?
What point is there in being proud
Of an accident of birth?

I know this may sound nasty.
Who knows, I may be out of touch
But to be proud of a thing like race,
One must not have accomplished much.

I could say I’m “white” and “American”
but what on earth does that prove?
The only thing that matters
In this life is what I DO.

The only thing that matters
Is the kindness that I show
And the work that I contribute
To help myself and others grow.

When I wander through a graveyard
And read inscriptions on the stones,
I see only words of love and praise
Written in rich, poetic tones.

There’s no mention of nationality
Or of looks or wealth or race.
Those things don’t seem to mean much
In a hallowed, spiritual place.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my country
And that can never be undone
But it makes more sense to measure
Who I am by what I’ve done.

For when my heart stops beating
And my time on earth is through,
The only thing strong enough to last
Will be the loving deeds I do.

What is it then, you ask, that makes
My life wealthy and well-spent?
The greatest joy I know are poems
Which, into this world, I’ve sent.

To know that some small words I wrote
Have eased a troubled, aching heart.
There is no greater feeling.
There is no greater art.

And maybe someday, years from now,
In some far-off place and time,
Some traveler will find my grave
And brush away the leaves and grime.

He’ll kneel down in the grass,
Lay his hand on the cold stone
And say, “I came here to thank you.
You made me feel much less alone.”

I suppose that’s why I struggle
To find the right words to say –
To be like the poets who guided me
When I had lost my way.

So I’ll keep on writing poetry
Until my life is through at last,
And I’m honored that they’ll be read
Centuries after I have passed.

And if you ask me what I’m proud of,
I won’t hesitate. I know it.
I’ll say it loud and clear, my friend –
“I’m a writer. I’m a poet.”

(c) 2006 Mark Rickerby