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The Furnace

As I am sitting here alone
the furnace kicks in with a roar,
reminding me that I have known
that sudden surging power and faced
its monstrous appetite before
in days of ruin, rage, and waste.

I did not comprehend it then;
a schoolboy by the bomber 'drome
I only dreamed heroic men
with bones of virtue, nerves of steel,
defending peace and truth and home.
Now, as the furnace roars, I feel

a different alien creature here
beside me, living by a rule
beyond my grasp, a thing of fear
moved by no love, desire or hate,
impersonal, and have to school
myself to think it less than Fate

which kicks in when we're least prepared
and swells a cancer in the gut,
burns up a nerve without a word
of warning or, maybe, commands
a palsied brain, a dragging foot,
blind eyes and useless, nervous hands,

or so we tell ourselves who wait
in our expectant rooms alone,
and know that either soon or late
we'll hear that overmastering roar
and learn what it has always known:
there is no after or before,

but only an illusion that
it is our destiny to feed.
Good or Evil, thin or fat,
black or white are all the same
and mutable. We do not need
success or failure, shame or fame;

all credos that enrage or please,
all joy and suffering, love and hate,
are droplets in enormous seas;
yet as the furnace stops I sense,
poised in a sudden lucid stae,
that Fate is also a pretence.

by Hannah Smith

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