R.M. Engelhardt at Poetic Vibe, Troy, NY

The Half-Dead Poets Review: A Clarity of Vision, Take A Break

A Clarity of Vision

I have seen this world
In its infinite perplexities
In its perpetual changes
Through eyes once young
Now old

The whole
The broken
The glass still
Half empty
Half full

In love with it
And sick of it all
To be the seer
The jester
The shaman
Of words

Or Baudelaire
The watcher
In the darkness
Unending once
The genius &

I’ve lived
Voices words
Made pacts
With muses
And have named
It love only
To find sorrow


But the

I have
Lives &

Burned down
Friends & bridges


In my wake

But the
Candle went
Out the flame

Out in
The reason
Of being

Which then
Gave hope



That the

A clarity
Of vision
After the
Years the
Muse has
You the

For which

At her
Table you
Must play
Her game

Never bet



“A clarity of vision”

So what exactly does that mean?

For each person, I suppose it’s different regarding where you are in this life or what’s important to you.

Maybe it’s not just something poetic but something to ponder and reconsider. The poem above is a true story. It’s about me, or more correctly was about me once when I was younger. Writing was my life and I sacrificed everything over to that endeavor. Poetry. Writing. Being exactly that vision. A writer. A poet. Nothing more & nothing less. But sometimes giving yourself over to your love or ambition isn’t really such a good thing or idea. It can literally destroy you. It will use you and burn you down and out. And if that’s what is happening to you then you need to take a break for your own sanity and well being. Believe me. I know. But this kind of self-destruction isn’t just a writing thing or a poetic thing. This is a universal issue that happens to almost everyone and all around us that happens to young executives climbing the ladder to overwhelmed moms taking care of their kids. In literature we see the Rimbaud’s & Sylvia Plath’s, we see poets and writers and romanticize their short and tragic lives. We think when we are young “Wow. Wouldn’t it be amazing to live like that?” “Wouldn’t it be incredible to live the life of an artist free of the normal constraints of this world, to create & be something more? Be Remembered?”

All an endless party right?
To live like a rock star in the eye of the storm.

Sounds great right?

That is until you have to pay the price.


“The essence of philosophy is that we should live so that our happiness depends as little as possible on external causes.”
~ Epictetus


So here’s that annoying voice of experience that you probably don’t want to hear if you want to be the next dead pop icon or literary hero or even if you want to be that next young successful business executive or salesman of the month with the new BMW and overpriced sunglasses. That if you chase fame or fortune, money or success or just the writing then you’re screwed.

As I said previously. No matter what you do or what path you choose to follow don’t fall into the trap. And that trap is the idealism that if you put all you are or who you are into the archaic idea that if you sacrifice your friends, time, family or even your soul (metaphorically speaking of course) that you will completely become what you want or even reach your goals. You may want that big mansion house in suburbia or to be recognized as the next millennial genius but all that stress and struggle isn’t what really being a full or happy human being is about. As the poem above says? I’ve burned bridges and have (un-purposely) abandoned friends and all for the cause and something, just an idea that I religiously believed in. And so far I’ve been spending the last decade or more so balancing out those mistakes in life which I’ve made. There’s nothing wrong with believing in yourself. There’s nothing wrong with pursuing your dreams. But whether you choose to take my advice or not is entirely up to you as the reader. Do what you love but don’t let that same love destroy you inadvertently. Me? This is my own story, one of a thousand regrets. But take the time to really love someone and take the time for your friends & family. Because that’s what you’ll find later on in life matters. All there is. So find that time and make the time to be there for them.

The rat race and the writing can wait. The American dream can wait.

And will still be there waiting tomorrow. Adulating doesn’t mean overextending or over working yourself to death. It doesn’t mean giving your freedom over to some cause or corporation, idea or even your own writing. You’re the one in charge. Not them or it. Not the muse or your boss. So protect your mental health and learn your own limitations.

A clarity of vision to me these days means seeing the world as it truly is. Clearly.
Not just through another writer’s eyes or imagination. I separate one world from the other.
And that’s what keeps me creative as well as happier than who I was years ago.

I got my soul back. And I intend to keep it.

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