Poetry of the Incarcerated

by | Jun 28, 2019 | Articles, Awakening, Enlightenment | 0 comments

Perhaps it’s been years and years since one has even thought of it… yet, at some point arose a curious thought about the distant past:  That one had put oneself in the cage.

Put oneself there?!? It had always seemed like it was just the way it was.  That one had nothing to do with it… that one had been jailed.  Not the jailer.

How can one be shocked?!?  Has not this pattern been seen a thousand times?  That one has always turned out, upon careful inspection, to be one’s own jailer?

I had been my own jailer.

Perhaps at the time, maybe long ago, locking oneself into a cage was a meaningful act of protection… of loving support in honor of protecting what innocence was there, from the vagaries and violence in one’s midst. This is how it usually works…

…That one locks oneself up.  And later, somehow… one forgets they turned the key in the lock themselves and dropped it where it still remains… in their own pocket. Railing and raging, screaming in agony and anger at the injustice of the world and God, locked in a prison of their own making.  Forgetting entirely one made this cage… Raging and railing, screaming in agony and anger… forgetting entirely, that release is as close as oneself.

Incarceration – at first an act of loving and necessary protection, has become a hell of thwarted wishes, aching loneliness, and the surest reason for pointing a gnarled and accusing finger at all the others, the world, and at God, screaming out in wrath and rage for doing this to me…

The key; long ago forgotten.

One’s own hand in it, long ago forgotten.

Is it any wonder… that the world… viewed through such a lens would seem to be little more than an asylum for the damned?

What was that?  Oh…  “It’s hard,” “I’m trapped,” and “long for intimacy rather than alienation.”



What’s even crazier?!?  Is…

…that we do not all run from the cage upon discovery of the key, screaming in joy at our release!!

Most of the time, we just continue to deny the existence of the key.  We stay trapped.

But eventually, perhaps after a moment of quiet in which we’ve had the gentle space to catch our breath, we recognize the cage, and even recognize the key. One sees the world beyond, and still… somehow, insanely, there is not an automatic leaping into freedom.

There is fear of stepping outside the confines of the cage.  The terrible has become home…  it has become familiar and strangely comfortable in its terribleness. Rage, anger and fear still pointing the accusing finger outward… strangely, comfortingly familiar.

Even if the door swings open, one cowers back into the dark corner, quite afraid of the light outside.


But finally, one grows tired of this nonsense.  Grows tired of this game.  Let us put down these toys and stop this round of make-believe!

Have you not sat in the hand of God a hundred thousand times?  Are you not always there, in truth?

We have sought peace a hundred thousand times… not madness.  How natural; how reasonable is our bafflement at how we could still be afraid of the light despite having been given so much of it.  And yet, we must gently admit to having been afraid sometimes, still…

Let us take the key and push open the door.   There is the open space… the light all about… It’s time to go now.

Walk into the light and disappear entirely into it.

Time to go.


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© Copyright 2014 Jonathan Van Valin


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