Hell’s Bells by Jeffrey Skinner

For John Branscum

Inside me the many things I should not have done
keep up a steady ringing, tinnitus, the medical term
and I try to comfort myself that I am no longer
doing those things, most of them at least,

that I have become another man with a new face
not new of course but altered
more frayed and crumpled and hopeful
more trustworthy to others because of the fraying

or the hope, and have for some time
been set on the path, as they say, though I hear Paul
loud and clear when he says The good I would do
I do not, and the evil I would not

I do—in a sense have joined a lineage
of wakeful self-doubt, without which no waking
beyond the self is possible
so that sometimes for moments I am permitted

to sit with a dying friend without fear
to sweep up the shattered bowl without resentment
or when my daughter begs for a ride to the video rental
not slam down the paper but simply rise

and lift the ring of keys from its hook
hearing as I turn that pleasing toss of music
and all these thoughts and actions by grace help quiet
somewhat the incessant ringing.

From: https://bombmagazine.org/articles/two-poems-jeffrey-skinner/

Date: 2001

By: Jeffrey Skinner (1949- )

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