It always should have been you.

A realization decades too late,

Only now do I see

The scope of my cowardice.

Fear, based in perceptions

Instilled since childhood,

Both at home and among brethren.

I allowed my perspective

To become oblique;

Skewed by the imagined judgement

I thought would follow

If I chose to heed

What my heart conveyed.

So many times

I nearly surrendered.

Instead I fought it.

Instead I cursed it.

Instead I buried it deeper,

Until no trace remained.

But the cruel truth of hindsight reveals

You would not have been shunned,

Nor merely tolerated.

You would have been adored.

For you WERE adored

As though you were his own.

More than I could have imagined,

More than I could have wished.

But I was woefully unaware.

I should have known, though,

For the same kindness,

The same caring,

The same compassion

Which draws me to you,

Is seen by all.

Still, I remained ignorant

Without the bliss.

I continued to spurn my heart,

And sat idly by

As you eventually gave

Your heart to another.


With that, there was nothing more to do.


It was officially out of my hands.


A false sense of peace

Washed over me.

I resolved myself

To live happily alone.

While sincere at the time,

It was truly a ludicrous notion,

Which eventually gave way

To a vast, cavernous sorrow.

Thus began the search

For your surrogate.

An exercise in futility to be sure,

I tried again, and again;

Subjecting my heart

To repeated torture.

For what I did not yet understand,

What I did not yet realize:

I am searching for someone

– Anyone –

Who might care for me

As much as I care for you.

For nearly half my life

I longed for you,

But was too afraid to acknowledge it.

Clarity and courage

Both came far too late.

Thus, I am relegated to dwell

Forever in this purgatory

Like some sadist,

Inflicting upon myself

An incessant stream

Of temptresses and femme fatales.

Living each day

With only the memory

Of a happiness known,

All too briefly,

So long ago.


This is the penance I must forever pay.


“Purgatory” poem and artwork by Enrique Martinez

2 thoughts on “Purgatory

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