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The Jury - a Poem

Updated on October 12, 2010

The Jury looks down on the room,

A room of shadows, filled with gloom,

In discussion, they, about my fate,

Hour upon hour, I sit and wait.

There’s something I’ve done wrong, it seems,

Perhaps it’s real, or just in dreams,

I can’t believe I’m waiting here

Underneath this judge’s chair.

I search my mind for what I’ve done,

The guilt is there, I want to run,

But I can’t think of a single thing,

That would require an offering.

An offering of my life is fair,

“I’ll give up everything”, I swear,

They sit there staring, one and all,

I wait to hear the gavel fall.

They press me with the deepest gaze,

Until I can only look away,

And what I’d give to trade their place,

And sit and judge another’s case.

But mine is up, it is my turn

To sit in judgment that I’ve earned,

The lead jurist stands to speak,

I cannot stand, my legs so weak.

“We find you guilty of a crime,

That man’s committed down through time,

You’ve lived your life by what we said,

A life that’s filled you with much dread.

There is no sentence - walk away,

Never treading again these halls of grey,

You’re free to go, now get your things,

For we require no offering.”

I sat there in disbelief,

"The jury spoke and set me free?"

And as I turned to walk away,

I looked back where they sat today,

And they were gone into thin air,

There wasn’t a trace - anywhere.

“What will everybody think?”

Has taken me to the very brink.

I’ve stared over the edge many days,

Lost in their cruel judgment’s haze.

But now I turn and move away,

From the edge where night meets day,

And taste God’s grace, I’m finally free,

As I realize - the Jury was me.

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    • haikutwinkle profile image

      haikutwinkle 6 years ago

      I admire your inner strength and courage in realizing who your jury was and coming to terms with that realization. Wonderful hub! May peace be with you on your journeys and trials ;)

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Gosh that connection wasn't well said, I love Matchbox and the song is about revelations and reflecting. Great song.

      Great poem.

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      I'm glad I found this - you are such a curious guy Stan. So hilarious - you've got that talent for sure.

      I happened to be listening to "Shame" by matchbox. Awesome work - I mean brilliant or something. I'm printing it. Loved it.

    • Stan Fletcher profile image
      Author

      Stan Fletcher 6 years ago from Nashville, TN

      TL - thanks a lot. I goof around quite a bit on here, but sometimes something serious hits me. And I try to put those things on paper too.

    • tlpoague profile image

      Tammy 6 years ago from USA

      It wasn't that long ago I seen a reflection of myself in your poem. To be one's own worst critic is more haunting than an actual judge and jury. It isn't often I see a more serious side of you, but noticed the words are just as powerful and full of emotion. Glad to see that you are on a better road. Great hub! I had to give it a vote up!

    • Stan Fletcher profile image
      Author

      Stan Fletcher 6 years ago from Nashville, TN

      Thanks Crysto - I appreciate it a lot.

    • crystolite profile image

      Emma 6 years ago from Houston TX

      Wow, nice poem. I like your style....it's real. Cheers.

    • Stan Fletcher profile image
      Author

      Stan Fletcher 6 years ago from Nashville, TN

      Tender - I'm really glad you enjoyed this. One of my faves. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment.

    • tnderhrt23 profile image

      tnderhrt23 6 years ago

      This piece captured me at the gate and drew me in, I could feel the stares...powerful write, indeed, one I could relate to on several levels! My "inner critics" were a committee, i never thought of them as a jury but it makes perfect sense and you nailed it here! I am "wowed" too!

    • Stan Fletcher profile image
      Author

      Stan Fletcher 6 years ago from Nashville, TN

      Dallas - thanks so much for reading. This is definitely one of my personal faves.

    • dallaswriter profile image

      dallaswriter 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Wow! Who hasn't at sometime had to sit in judgement by themselves. We are our hardest critics and sometimes play a bigger hand in our own demise. I enjoyed this as it wasn't too long ago that I too sat in that chair! Voted up!!!!

    • Stan Fletcher profile image
      Author

      Stan Fletcher 6 years ago from Nashville, TN

      greg - great comment man. Glad you stopped by to read this one. I write mostly humor stuff and a lot of my readers haven't seen this. The day I wrote it was a breakthrough moment for me.

    • gg.zaino profile image

      greg g zaino 6 years ago from L'America- Big Pine Key, Florida

      Hey Stan, i enjoyed this poem and can relate well. once we finally come to that point in our lives where we understand that we are the ones we should be pleasing and screw the rest- true growth begins.

      Hemingway said,

      ... immorality was something he felt bad after doing- whereas what is moral, is something he felt good afterward. smart cookie that Ernie :)

      gg.zaino says,

      .... living up to others expectations leaves me unfulfilled, living up my own -and giving 100% to each and every task- leaves me a winner every time.

      In failure we appreciate victory.

      ... and what really matters what others think of us? this is an unreasonable burden we place on ourselves.

      Write on my new friend... keep it coming.

      peace ~greg

    • Stan Fletcher profile image
      Author

      Stan Fletcher 6 years ago from Nashville, TN

      Mary Sue - really glad you read this one. Thanks for the great comment.

    • profile image

      Mary Sue Marshall 6 years ago

      Stan,

      You use such vivid imagery, I could feel your tension and dread as if I were there with you. Your message is a great one. It's true, we're the hardest judges when it comes to yourselves. No one else is harder on me than I am. It's also a lesson for us not to judge others. They're doing a better job of that than we can.

      Thanks for sharing this, Stan,

      Mary Sue

    • Stan Fletcher profile image
      Author

      Stan Fletcher 6 years ago from Nashville, TN

      Coolmon - And thank you for reading!

    • Coolmon2009 profile image

      Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA

      Nice poem, thanks for sharing.

    • Stan Fletcher profile image
      Author

      Stan Fletcher 6 years ago from Nashville, TN

      Thanks M89. Really glad you liked it.

    • mysterylady 89 profile image

      mysterylady 89 6 years ago from Florida

      You have used an excellent metaphor to describe your epiphany. I also think your comment to Wayne says a great deal. I, too, have been there, but I would not have been able to express it so beautifully.

    • Stan Fletcher profile image
      Author

      Stan Fletcher 6 years ago from Nashville, TN

      333 - I thought you would like it. Thanks for the great comment and compliment.

    • sueroy333 profile image

      Susan Mills 6 years ago from Indiana

      Thank you for recommending this. It was beautiful. It spoke to my soul. These are words that will stay with me forever.

    • Stan Fletcher profile image
      Author

      Stan Fletcher 6 years ago from Nashville, TN

      Muddle - Truly glad to be an inspiration. I will accept your compliment, knowing that this particular poem came from somewhere else. I don't feel like I wrote it, as it wrote itself. It's so true for me though. I struggle with it every morning and have to do battle with it until it's dead for another day. I'm getting better at killing it faster, which is cool. The Jury will kill you if you don't kill it first. :) So glad you stopped by and took the time to comment.

    • Stan Fletcher profile image
      Author

      Stan Fletcher 6 years ago from Nashville, TN

      Jaye - I loved your comment. If everyone was like you, I'm sure I could write that book and sell a few copies. I really do want to do that. I haven't had a publisher knocking down my door yet, but who knows, maybe they will. In the meantime, I really appreciate your support and kind words. You're welcome around these parts any time!

    • Stan Fletcher profile image
      Author

      Stan Fletcher 6 years ago from Nashville, TN

      Michael - sorry for the delayed response....I really appreciate you reading this. One of my faves for sure. Thanks for the kind words....

    • profile image

      muddle<34 6 years ago

      wow. i have been waiting to find inspiration for a long time and now realise that this is it. i have needed an idea such as this poem to help me along and now i feel able to help myself. thankyou stan once again for inspiring me. :)

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 6 years ago from Deep South, USA

      What an awesome and awe-inspiring poem! I think perhaps a lot of us have judged ourselves while thinking it was other people doing so. How empowering to know this and act on it by accepting our freedom.

      I read your depression series right through from the gut-wrenching first segment to the last. I hope you are serious about turning your experience into a book. Not everyone who can help others is a professional. It seems to me that you've learned so much in a short time because you became willing to learn. It was also inspiring to witness the outpouring of love and concern for you expressed by everyone from your family and old friends to your cyber-friends and fans. Congratulations, Stan. You earned your victory. As people suffering from depression find and read about your journey through your posts (or a book you may write), who knows how many people suffering from depression you may help? If that's not a powerful enough purpose for your life, I don't know what is....JAYE

    • michael ely profile image

      michael ely 6 years ago from Scotland

      Hi Stan, Really great poem. Every line seems to fit in perfectly with the others and a really good ending. Cheers. Michael.

    • Stan Fletcher profile image
      Author

      Stan Fletcher 6 years ago from Nashville, TN

      Somber - thanks. Those of us who have lived under the Jury thought everybody did. When I found out that wasn't true, I began to seek ways to get rid of it. But I didn't know who was on it until recently. When I found out it was me, I was able, through some good mental therapy, to kill it off. Thanks for reading!

    • profile image

      SomberStares 6 years ago

      Fantastic poem! It's always interesting to learn the things that go on in other people's minds.

    • Stan Fletcher profile image
      Author

      Stan Fletcher 6 years ago from Nashville, TN

      E - thanks so much for the great comment. I really appreciate you taking the time to read and give your insights.

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 6 years ago

      ..well the last line says it all - it's what I like to call the 'pay-off' line - I use this device all the time - lol lol - and that's a trade secret from the epigramman - keep them in suspense until the very end - lol lol

      ...and yes this reminds me of the writing of Leonard Cohen - which is high praise indeed.

      Of the two you asked me to review - this piece, the Jury, for me anyway, is more focused and a more direct piece of writing. It tells a story (something which I like to do all the time) but also informs the reader of your own personal thoughts and feelings (the essence, I suppose, of poetry) .......

      I would imagine this will be your signature piece, if you will, a high water mark, in your new creative endeavors and a starting point to continue to even greater artistic heights.......

      Thanks for your insightful comments and fan mail by the way - and coming from someone like you - it's a great honor indeed!

      Stan you are starting to show your many colors - and that's what makes a great renaissance man!!!!!

    • Stan Fletcher profile image
      Author

      Stan Fletcher 6 years ago from Nashville, TN

      DRBJ - As always, I appreciate your comments. You are always faithful to read what's on my mind, and I really appreciate it. This is one of my faves.

    • Stan Fletcher profile image
      Author

      Stan Fletcher 6 years ago from Nashville, TN

      Wayne - I have a couple of very good friends that I've known since I was a kid. We discuss this concept a lot, as we all suffer from it to one degree or another. One of them calls this syndrome "the Jury". For the past several years, I've been trying to figure out who sat on my Jury, and whether or not I cared what they thought about me. I couldn't quite figure out who they were, but I felt their presence. And it seemed they were always waiting for me to slip up. I attributed it to growing up in a small town. Anyone who grows up in a small town knows it's like growing up in a fishbowl. There were certain standards of behavior, and it always felt like there was a great deal of pressure to conform - something I didn't want to do. (That led to a lot of bad behavior later, but that's another subject.) I gradually began to believe that once a person went so far there was no redemption - especially on the biggies, like divorce. It seemed that the people who were telling me how to live without being very transparent about their own failings. You can't really be transparent in a small town though, unless you like being the object of gossip.

      I'm rambling a bit, but my point is that I've been living under this Jury of people's expectations, and my failures (particularly the moral ones) for a long time. But as I really looked deeper into it, I was really the only one who sat on my Jury. I was projecting a lot of unknown, and distant, people's expectations onto my life - and often these expectations were at odds with each other - there's no way to please everyone. "What will everybody think?" is a road that, if traveled daily in your mind, will lead you to misery. You have to be able to look in the mirror and be happy with the person looking back at you, no matter what everyone else thinks. And truth be told, the vast majority of people are dealing with their own crap and don't have time to evaluate your life anyway. So once I realized that I was the Jury, it vanished.

      I made peace with my hometown last year. And now I'm making peace with myself. Thanks for reading Wayne.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      First I read this penetrating confession to be entertained, Stan. Then I read it again with a clinical eye. As I have stated more than once, You are - and will continue to be - the MAN! :)

    • Wayne Brown profile image

      Wayne Brown 6 years ago from Texas

      What an interesting concept...you cast your own fate then judged yourself on the result. I think I know where you are here. Maybe you are the only one who can offer a conviction with a trial. Others are just relegated to suffer the crime and attempt a punishment. All thngs come to he who waits. I really belive that although waiting can be a long process. I love your poetry Stan...there's a healing process going on here that I firmly believe will justify your freedom. Peace, my friend! WB

    • Stan Fletcher profile image
      Author

      Stan Fletcher 6 years ago from Nashville, TN

      Lorlie6 - thank you as always..

    • lorlie6 profile image

      Laurel Rogers 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca

      This poem really hit home for me, Stan. It reminds me that I am my worst critic, that I am the only one who can truly forgive myself.

      Beautiful.

    • Stan Fletcher profile image
      Author

      Stan Fletcher 6 years ago from Nashville, TN

      Thank you poppy. I really appreciate it. Means a lot coming from you.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 6 years ago

      Utterly magnificent. Now it's time to forgive yourself. The world awaits you with open arms. Voted up and awesome.

    • Stan Fletcher profile image
      Author

      Stan Fletcher 6 years ago from Nashville, TN

      Brandonfan - yep. This is a debilitating condition that myself and many others I know have suffered too much for. I'm tired of it and refuse to live under their watchful eye anymore. Thanks for reading.

    • brandonfan profile image

      brandonfan 6 years ago from Mid West

      Seems like we do all punish ourselves worst for things that others would just brush off doesn't it? Same goes for criticism. Very cool poem!

    • Stan Fletcher profile image
      Author

      Stan Fletcher 6 years ago from Nashville, TN

      Linda - thank you. This epiphany has freed my mind more than anything ever has. The Jury was me.

    • profile image

      Linda 6 years ago

      You must have some exceptional dreams Stan. You put me in that chair!

    • Stan Fletcher profile image
      Author

      Stan Fletcher 6 years ago from Nashville, TN

      Surly - I couldn't have asked for a better response. This came to me in a dream last night. Thanks so much for reading.

    • profile image

      surlyoldcat 6 years ago

      Wow...

      no comments, just...

      Wow