There Are Men Too Gentle To Live Among Wolves

A poem by James Kavanaugh:

There are men too gentle to live among wolves
Who prey upon them with IBM eyes
And sell their hearts and guts for martinis at noon.
There are men too gentle for a savage world
Who dream instead of snow and children and Halloween
And wonder if the leaves will change their color soon.

There are men too gentle to live among wolves
Who anoint them for burial with greedy claws
And murder them for a merchant’s profit and gain.
There are men too gentle for a corporate world
Who dream instead of candied apples and ferris wheels
And pause to hear the distant whistle of a train.

There are men too gentle to live among wolves
Who devour them with eager appetite and search
For other men to prey upon and suck their childhood dry.
There are men too gentle for an accountant’s world
Who dream instead of Easter eggs and fragrant grass
And search for beauty in the mystery of the sky.

There are men too gentle to live among wolves
Who toss them like a lost and wounded dove.
Such gentle men are lonely in a merchant’s world,
Unless they have a gentle one to love.

This is one of my favorite poems. A friend of mine named Pete Kurie (look him up on itunes) set these words to music a while back, and now it’s impossible for me to read the poem without singing the song in my head. I used to have this poem and others in a little James Kavanaugh collection, but I sent it to a friend in the mail along with some of my own writing. Kavanaugh wrote a dedication to the book of poems—a dedication that I thought was just as good as any of the content of the anthology—but now I’ve forgotten it since I mailed the book away. It had something to do with watching geese fly, or hearing the sound of honking geese above the noise of ongoing traffic or something. Anyway, look it up if you have time, I’m sure it’s good.

My favorite symbol of this poem is the wolves who prey upon you with “IBM eyes,” a great image of people’s meanness becoming robotic—becoming a machine. It’s also a good line about how evil deeds can be committed while sitting at a computer, and indeed how sitting at a computer, isolated from the material world, can compel one to commit acts that otherwise would be unthinkable. Like investment banking.

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2 thoughts on “There Are Men Too Gentle To Live Among Wolves

  1. Pingback: Messengers | Coming Soon: A Vast Desert

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