The Bitter Days: A Collection of Poems by Wesley Provine

‘Tis the cold steel bars,

Which give freedom her value.

The solitary days, desolate nights—

Intimacy’s worth.


(February 2005)

Foes multiply,

And friends betray.

Tension mounts—

There’s no other way.

He goes to church,

And pleads his case.

They start to listen,

But spit in his face.

The bride is waiting;

She thinks he’ll come back.

He looks at the clock.

He’s starting to crack.

He’s standing alone;

They don’t understand.

He’s doing his duty—

In a dry and thirsty land.

The streets are empty

When the train arrives.

The enemy is here,

And death is nigh.

Shots are fired—

A struggle ensues.

Four men lay dead,

As justice is renewed.

The people come out,

And Grace returns.

The lovers leave town,

As his anger burns.


(March 2005)

Been down

For so long.

My soul is left

Without a song.

Before honor

Is humility.

Hope all this pain

Has some utility.

Shame and dishonor

Cover me today.

It’s all I know;

It’s what I hate.

I look forward

To better days.

Will God transform

This malaise?

If I sit on top

And crush my enemies,

If I’m vindicated,

And find a remedy…

Then will all this pain

Be worth the price,

And all the wrong,

Be made right.

And the golden prize

Will be within my sight;,

And all the joy,

Make it worth the fight.

The Corsican

(February 2005)

You cut your teeth

In Pharaoh’s land.

Though it went badly,

Fate had a plan.

You escaped in the dark

And arrived at Frejus.

Did you have any idea

What was about to ensue?

What a romance

Your life will be!

History will study you

For centuries.

Your name defined the times—

Napoleon the quixotic.

It was all about you,

And your dreams exotic.

If you could do it over,

Would you stay with Josephine?

Do you think she ever loved you

Or did she just want to be seen?

Tragic that you didn’t know

When to quit the fight.

With all Europe your playground,

You saw no end to your might.

Exiled to Elba,

With little to do—

You grew restless,

And escaped, until Waterloo.

You spent your last days

In a desolate place.

You’d conquered many foes,

But now had St. Helena to face.

Searching in the Night

(March 2005)

Awake in the night,

And countin’ the sheep

Ain’t bringin’ the sleep;

So he goes for a drive.

He wonders if he’ll find—

What he’s been looking for,

Or is more pain in store?

He’s seeking the answer tonight.

He’s been left behind;

He’s shut outside.

He’s losing his mind—

It’s another hopeless night.

He’s driving in the night,

Down that old empty road.

Thoughts and feelings overflow,

He’s searching in the night.

He knows futility well;

Will tomorrow be the same?

Will he still bear his shame?

No one can tell.

He’s tryin’ to escape—

This frustration he feels;

He’s lost his zeal,

And he hates the wait.

Broken Dreams

(February 2000)

Will I die

With dreams unfulfilled?

Will I be left longing

Lonely and still?

If I got what I wanted

Would that be a tragedy?

Would I lose my principles

And forfeit my sanity?

Nights like these

Cause me to weep.

My heart cannot bear

The thought of broken dreams.

Friendly Fire

(May 2005)

Oh, what a tragedy!

How sad that he perished!

My sorrow multiplied now that I know—

He was slain by those he cherished.

Those who hurt us most

Are not our foes;

But friendly fire

Inflicts our deepest woes.

He goes to church

And expects the best.

Ends up leaving,

Cynical—like the rest.

They gossip and conspire

Their friends they betray.

He sinks in the mire

As bitterness turns to hate.

His anger rages

Like an uncontrollable flame.

He carries his wounds;

He’ll never be the same.

Good Intentions

(June 2005)

They gossip about you,

And practice condemnation.

But they’re not bad people—

They have good intentions.

They’ll label you a troublemaker;

Exclude you from their company.

But they’re not bad people.

They go to church regularly.

They’ll treat you like trash,

And label you naive.

But they’re the adults,

Because they don’t bleed.

They’ll ask you to confide.

And promise they won’t repeat,

But they’ll stab you in the back

Faster than the guy on the street.

They’re supposed to people of grace,

But where’s the kindness and love?

After they’ve beaten you down,

They say you’re not tough enough.

You seek somewhere else

Where they don’t know it all.

Where you won’t be betrayed

And kicked if you fall.


(May 2005)

Your jealousy abounds;

You see me as a threat.

You push me around,

And treat me like your pet.

You build your empire.

You like being in control.

So you force me out

To go for the gold.

What would you do?

If all your dreams failed?

If I were the head,

And you were the tail?

You may be on top today,

But you can’t always have your way.

Power doesn’t last forever—

Empires all crumble, someday.


(February 2005)

If I treated you

Like you did me,

Could you endure the pain,

Or would you ask for mercy?

Why should I care

To listen to your plea?

I cried out for help,

And you ignored me.

What will you do?

When you lose your dignity,

When you can’t play the part,

And you don’t know who to be?

How will you act?

When the mask is removed,

Your shame is revealed,

And your games are through?

When all you know isn’t true,

And all you lean on is broken;

None of your tricks are working,

And all the help is only token.

The Irish Quartet

(June 2005)

Sunday Bloody Sunday—

It made me aware.

I couldn’t resist

The sound of the snare.

In high school,

I lay in my room.

I liked to listen

To U2’s Achtung…

Songs like One,

And Mysterious Ways

Are Even Better

Than the Real Thing.

Bono in shades

Danced as The Fly

Zoo TV

What a sight!

I found romance,

And got in a bind.

I found comfort in

All You Can’t Leave Behind.

It was loaded with greats—

Like a Beautiful Day.

I had to Walk On

To find more Grace.

How to Dismantle

The Atomic Bomb—

I got it for Christmas

From my Mom.

I got Vertigo in

The City of Blinding Lights.

I eat Crumbs from Your Table

Every lonely night.

Come Through

(December 2000)

What is to come?

God is mighty; God is true.

Don’t be sorrowful, friend,

He will come through.

He’ll give you your desire;

He has heard your cry.

All things are possible—

He’ll set you on high.

All Things New


I live in the land

Of Unfulfilled Desire.

I’m left behind

In the mud and mire.

What a dreadful place—

Every day ends the same.

I wake up wondering,

Can I endure the shame?

Wipe away my sorrow;

Wipe away my pain.

Make all things new,

In Jesus’ name.

Joseph forgot his sorrow

In Pharaoh’s land;

From prison to palace,

The bitterness passed.

God may seem slow,

But that day will come.

Take heart weary traveler—

You’ll shine like the sun.


(November 1999)

Though God gives me the grace,

Enough to keep running the race,

Still my discouragement resides;

Deep in my heart it hides.

I cannot end my sorrow—

Only hope for a brighter tomorrow.

Mourn and voice my complaint

Find solace in expression before I faint.

To women—I cannot relate

Lonely my heart—pain my fate.

Longing to rejoice in dreams fulfilled;

Yet hopes dashed and desires killed.

The Female Collective

(Spring 2005)

You whisper in the shadows,

Take advantage of our trust.

Are you all one—

Conspiring against us?

Can you keep a secret,

Or am I too late?

You’re eager to betray;

Bitterness makes you hate.

Beware of the Female Collective;

It’s a force to be respected.

It multiplies power in numbers,

And causes the healthy to be infected.

I look for one who hasn’t succumbed

To their hatred and fear.

I try to isolate her,

But the others are always near.

So tell me, Female Collective,

What is your plan?

Do you want to take over,

And kill the last man?


(Spring 2005)

I stumble, I stutter;

I look down; I frown.

Where you get your confidence?

How you keep me down?

Different from everybody;

I’m on the outside.

Why do I always feel

Invisible to their sight?

Could you walk

A mile in my shoes?

Could you go on

If the outcast was you?

Seeing others laugh

And walk in confidence;

Envy enters in,

And robs me of my sense.

They’re comfortable in a crowd;

They have the gift of gab.

They’re always up

On the latest fad.

This diffidence

Feels like a curse.

Can I hope for more,

Or does it get worse?

Sometimes I feel like

I just can’t win.

Sometimes all I see

Is my failure and sin.

Guilt and depression

Overwhelm this outcast.

I grow weary

Of coming in last.

I’m tired of the other guy

Always getting the chick.

I’m tired of being

Outside the clique.

Ill at Ease

(June 2005)

I envy others

It comes so easily.

Confident and relaxed,

They rule over me.

Stand out in a crowd.

Different from the rest.

It’s when I am alone.

That I’m at my best.

Everywhere I go

I’m ill at ease.

Awkward and nervous,

It’s hard to be me.

Will she still love me

With my insecurities?

Can she understand

Why I’m ill at ease?

Why can’t I be myself?

But open and free.

I’m so uptight—

When she talks to me.

I walk this path alone

With no one my life to share.

Loneliness leaves you vulnerable

In a world that doesn’t care.

I wear a shield

Over my heart.

Life was better

At the start.

Zest for Life

(Summer 2005)

Did you almost lose your faith

When you fled to the wilderness?

When Saul tried to kill you,

Did God still know best?

You fought the battle

That defined the underdog.

You killed Goliath,

And gave credit to God.

Saul had slain his thousands;

You’d done that times ten.

He had the throne,

But you the hearts of men.

His jealousy raged;

You always were the star.

Poet Shepherd King

A man after God’s own heart.

You won many victories.

Your fame multiplied.

You had a zeal for God,

And a zest for life.

You reached your zenith,

And your heart filled with pride.

You numbered the people,

And had to watch them die.

You stepped onto the roof,

And saw what you craved.

You brought her over,

And sealed your fate.

Your men were at battle

When you called Uriah back;

You devised a scheme

To cover your tracks.

A letter to the commander

Was put in his hand.

He carried his death sentence

To a foreign land.

You couldn’t sleep,

Or forget your sin.

Guilt plagued your soul,

And wore your mind thin.

Your glory turned to shame,

And trouble came to your home.

Absalom stole their hearts,

Before he stole your throne.

But God was gracious,

Picked you up after the fall.

Solomon was born—

The wisest king of all.


(February 2005)

You act like king and queen,

But you fail to realize—

Kingdoms shouldn’t be built

Upon treachery and lies.

You vie for power and position;

You like to control and manipulate.

You like to be the center of attention;

You treat others like you’re head of state.

I feel like I’m in a royal court

With all the intrigue and schemes.

Words and secrets spoken in the dark,

Nothing on the surface as it seems.

I long for the day

When you finally see—

There are kingdoms out there

Which do not recognize your majesty.


(February 2005)

I was standing in the library

When you stabbed me in the heart.

You were a different person

Than at the start.

I walked outside,

Too drained to fight.

I trudged through the rain,

Recounting your lies.

Your arrogance knew no limit.

O that God would bring you down.

Why do the wicked prosper

And the righteous drown?

My friend whom I trusted,

Operating behind my back.

You lied to my face;

Shame was all you lacked.

Revenge held me hostage;

Until I paid back your cruelty.

It was hard to find joy in a world

Where you were exalted over me.

Down Here

(June 2005)

It must be nice

To sit on top;

Do as you please,

And call the shots.

Go to New York,

Then to Miami;

The world’s a playground

For the VIP’s.

Why don’t you come down here

And get a different view?

You might be surprised—

Not everyone lives like you.

You have the girl

Everyone desires.

You got the money

To take you higher.

You drive the car

That’s faster than the rest.

You live the good life,

Enjoying the best.

Why do you prosper

While others drown?

Some have it all;

Others are kept down.

Prison Palace

(February 2005)

The bars, strong as steel;

Prayers don’t seem to break the lock.

For the key around I feel,

This prison is as solid as a rock.

Surrounded by luxury,

This cell is fully equipped;

It serves to mitigate the misery,

But independence is still missed.

I’m living in my prison palace;

No matter what I do, I can’t escape.

But taste freedom again I must—

God, how long must I wait?

Rather live in simplicity,

And breathe free air.

In here I know no rest, nor felicity—

Only heaviness and care.

The Pedestrian Life

(August 2005)

I struggle with frustration,

Boredom and regret.

I missed my calling,

And ran up the debt.

I’m left with mediocrity,

Bitterness and jealousy.

I watch the stars play,

And wish they were me.

Wondering where I went wrong—

How did I get off track?

I hope for a miracle,

Cause I can’t go back.

One day I hope to rise

Above my enemies;

To know triumph

And the thrill of victory.

But for now I endure,

And bide my time.

I pour out my pain,

And make it rhyme.

I pray to God,

And hope deliverance is nigh.

I walk in darkness,

As I search for the light.


(February 2000)

I sold my freedom today—

Just like all the other days;

I sold it for a guarantee

Of being free from humility.

Oh what I could do and who I could be—

If free from concern of people’s thoughts of me.

Liberated from haunting doubts, hesitating fears,

I would fly high above this valley of tears.

But instead in this prison I do sit,

Contemplating possibilities that I may miss;

Timidity is an irritating foe—

It keeps me from starring in the show.

The door is not locked you see,

But outside is my enemy.

Fear ensures that I stay in,

Because he hates it when I win.


(February 2005)

Your brother is everything

You could never be.

Did you think of him

When you stole Sparta’s beauty?

You brought trouble

On the city you love.

Your sin started a war,

And invited wrath from above.

You sacrificed honor

To satisfy your lust.

Shame covered you

As you lay in the dust.

Yet before all is done

You will strike down Achilles.

Your shame will turn to glory

As you kill your enemy.

The Argives sailed to Ilios.

The peace of Troy was lost.

When you look in the mirror,

Was she worth the cost?

You ran from battle

And lived in fear.

Does she have second thoughts

About coming here?

Negative Fixation

(Summer 2005)

I’ve gained a habit

Of negative fixation.

Bitterness is rampant,

And it’s clouding the sun.

Where does this road lead?

Is there purpose in pain

Will desire be fulfilled?

Or is all in vain?

Let the mourning cease,

And the sad song expire.

Find at last full release;

Lift me from the mire.

Kings and Pawns

(August 2005)

Kings and Pawns,

Emperors and fools;

You show no mercy,

And break all the rules.

You love to be

The Master of Manipulation.

You’re not content,

Unless you rule the nation.

You treat life as a game,

And oppress the weak.

You mock the ignorant,

And crush them beneath.

What would you do

If you couldn’t control?

Power and wealth

Warp your soul.

In the end,

You’ll be hated.

The manipulator

Becomes the manipulated.

Cruel World

(Spring 2005)

Frank had a farm;

He struggled for years.

Toiled at his plow,

And suppressed his fears.

Over time he acquired land,

And his livestock multiplied.

The family prospered

With fortune on their side.

But tragedy struck,

And the bank foreclosed.

Frank sold his land,

And died completely broke.

His work was all in vain;

This is the farmer’s futility.

Just as the goal is reached,

The hardworking die in humility.

It’s a cruel world;

The wealthy cut the poor in sunder.

The wicked inflict pain,

And the just are trampled under.


(January 2005)

Events stick out

Like barbs in my mind;

The cruel spikes

Cause me to bleed.

I would that they

All had smooth edges;

Everything might fit together,

And all would make sense.

But the more I ponder

The events of my life,

The more I realize

There’s no escaping mystery.

The answers I crave

Are hidden from me;

The injustices suffered

Are not remedied.

The Lies We Believe

(August 2005)

Of what does a person consist

When you remove the exterior?

When you look into the heart,

Do you feel inferior?

Are you uncomfortable

When you’re all alone?

Do you have an identity,

Or are you just a clone?

What would you see

If you looked inside?

Are you the real thing?

Or just a lie?

When you look into the mirror,

What lies do you believe?

With illusion your solace,

Reality’s tough to see.

Do you know who you are?

Or what you like?

Do you follow the crowd,

Or do what is right?

Do you try to impress,

And struggle to fit in?

Do you have to be on top?

Do you have to win?

You spend your life deceived,

Thinking that you’re a pro.

But in the end you realize,

You’re just an average joe.

Lost Illusions

(December 1999)

A funny thing I find

In the marital bond:

At first such bliss,

But in the end often amiss.

One day they rejoice;

On another they cry.

They begin in illusion,

And die in confusion.


(December 1999)

Sometimes I wonder

What events occur—

Outside my realm

Of selfish concern.

Is there in government

Or by evil conceived,

A plan that if executed

Would disrupt my ease?

Bed of Comfort

(December 1999)

The covers are my shield;

Under them I feel safe.

Bury me deep within,

Alone in my hiding place.

A tide of concerns

Floods over my soul.

The weight of responsibility

Takes its toll.

Keep me untouched

From a world of hurt.

I find escape

Upon my bed of comfort.

Bottom of the 9th

(June 2005)

I don’t want to worry about

How to pay the bills.

I would like to know

Just how that feels.

My dream seems miles away;

People tell me it can’t be done.

I’d like to step up to the plate,

And have the lights come undone.

Can I turn this thing around

Can the damage be undone?

It’s the bottom of the 9th,

And I need a home run.

I want to see the skyline

Down under in Sydney.

I want to go to New York,

And feel the rhythm of the city.

I want to travel to Rome,

And see the land of Italy.

I want to feel the breeze,

As I look out over the sea.


(February 2005)

He speaks eloquent truths.

What does it matter?

They serve only to amuse.

He wants to change

The world in a day,

And end all the pain.

He writes of beauty,

Described in detail.

But she’s only a dream.

This is the poet’s futility,

The world remains the same—

His lesson in humility.

He spins his philosophy.

It impresses the masses,

But it doesn’t end the misery.

He lies in his grave;

His words still inspire,

But they himself could not save.

The Scraps

August 2005

More vicious than a viper

Is the sting of my regret.

I’m left with the consequences,

Unable to pay the debts.

Each new day scrutinizes

The failure of my ability.

I long to fly higher,

But I can’t escape humility.

I want to be somebody,

And for people to care.

To listen when I speak,

Instead they’re unaware.

Overwhelmed with despair,

Mocked when I’m down.

Burdens heavy upon me,

With help nowhere to be found.

Weary and worn,

From pressure and stress.

Who can a smile adorn

In the midst of distress?

Imprisoned by despair,

Growing tired of the chains,

Are we destined for more—

Than failure and pain?

When it’s all over,

Will it remain the same?

My biggest fear is—

Not being in the game.


(February 2005)

No longer wanting

To hate you anymore.

Tired and alone,

My soul is worn.

O God, stir my heart,

So that I may weep.

I’ve forged this steel,

But I long to feel the heat.

In need of catharsis,

Purge me of this rage.

Teach me to forgive;

Let the bitterness fade.

Let love flow

For my enemy;

What I desire—

Is peace.

The Bitter Days

The Bitter Days is a collection of poems with mostly common themes: sorrow, injustice, bitterness, longing, and frustration. They came out of a painful time in my life and are sometimes biting and harsh.

Yet something beautiful and constructive came out of that misery. God is faithful, and the bitterness of yesterday has been transformed into the blessings of today. This collection provides a window into my heart and mind during that time. It outlines the progression of my struggle to overcome bitterness. This is resolved in the final poem, Forgive.

These poems were the culmination of five years of creative effort. I hope you enjoyed them. They came from my heart.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s