EARN MY WIN

If you should rise from Nowhere up to Somewhere,
From being No one up to being Someone,
Be sure to keep repeating to yourself
You owe it to an arbitrary god
Whose mercy to you rather than to others
Won’t bear to critical examination.
(Robert Frost, FEAR OF GOD)

EARN MY WIN
I
The Argument

My small car won the wood-shop race in 8th grade
It wasn’t a fair win
A screw on the track popped out the other car
It wasn’t a fair loss
So I didn’t take the win; I called for another run

I wanted to earn my win

In the subsequent runs, I ended up last
But it wasn’t a fair loss

How about I explain what happened in language that isn’t poetry?  Jeff Aubaugh pestered me to catch my car at the end of the track and I let him.  But on my winning run, he had wandered away and my car skittered against the wall, breaking the fender.  So the bare axle was exposed and my car kept sticking in the wooden walls of the track.  Everybody challenged my car, one by one, and I kept losing and came in last.  But this poem isn’t about my wooden car, or Jeff Aubaugh.

Next class, the boys told the girls that I came in last
It wasn’t a fair humiliation

II
The Evidence

Once, I interviewed for a job they wanted me to have
But it wasn’t a fair win for me
Others interviewed for the job they wouldn’t get
But it wasn’t a fair loss for them

I took the win, fair or not;–the job

It broke my friend’s heart when he peeked at his admission file and found out
His minority status superseded his mediocre standing among the applicants
Now, a grad student with me and his broken heart

He took the win
I earned it, deserved it
I got it by merit

I got published a few times
I merited those publications
They were fair wins
I got published a few other times
I don’t know if they handed me the publications
They may not have been fair wins
My professor got his book published
On the press of the university where he also graduated
A friend thought my professor handed out A’s
Only to graduates from his Alma Mater
Which I am and I got an A

III
The Conclusion

No one wants a hand-out
We want to earn our win
No one wants to take that all we didn’t ask for
A lot of it I didn’t ask for
Neither deserve some of what’s come my way
Certainly didn’t earn
The young couple who worked at Subway
And accepted me, a broken doctoral student, as a friend
When bipolar disorder shattered my confidence,
My professional collegiality, ties to colleagues, professors
No, I did not deserve their love, the young couple
Nor earn the air I breathe
Deserve the beat my heart gives me
Deserve heaven and earth
Merit heaven

Carol

Earn grace
Gracias, we hate to say
Gracia, hate to receive
Receive grace

Receive anything at all

Receive
Grace
Gracias
Grace upon Grace
Gracious
Gratitude

And it’s not all mine
All of my own making

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