The Imperfect Portrait Commentary

Introduction

One year ago, “The Imperfect Portrait” was self-published on a WordPress blog. What originally began as a small assortment of poetry, transformed into a story told in poetic form about the human condition. It tells the story of a prideful man and how a set of circumstances ultimately humbles him to view life in a different lens. Throughout these twelve poems, topics of love, loneliness, lust, maturity, and Christianity are explored and displayed in a transparent, vulnerable manner.

Meaning behind the title

“The Imperfect Portrait” can be viewed from two perspectives. One is that humans are unique portraits, each with our own color palettes, shapes, and illustrations. And in some way, we reflect the Painter. We are “his workmanship.” (Ephesians 2:10)

But there are gaps. Spaces that hasn’t been filled in yet. Flaws that are better off hidden. This sense of feeling incomplete is evident in how we function as humans. Always trying to seek something that will make us feel whole. Money, sex, power, accomplishments, etc. In our pursuit for perfection, we try to leave behind our imperfections. Thus, humanity can be seen as a collection of “imperfect portraits.”

The other perspective is to add an apostrophe and change the title to “The ‘I’m Perfect’ Portrait.” Now, the focus is shifted on the innate desire to be seen as perfect. Ignoring one’s flaws and only displaying the qualities that leads to self-gratification. This desire to be loved and accepted is the main conflict that both characters face.

Both perspectives are equally valid, in that it showcases the heights of arrogance that we tend to climb. Either through overbearing arrogance or self-exaltation. The methods may change, but the destination remains the same.

Background

This book was written in the span of a summer, specifically during the last semester of college. Naturally, many narratives were created and considered when composing these poems. A man struggling to accept who he truly is, a Christian coming to terms with a sovereign God, and a writer who wants to be among the greats. By the end of the writing process, all of these narratives were able to be woven in.

But there had to be a way in which each poem can relate to each narrative. Thus, the character  Two Dope was created. His story would mirror the one about Icarus, the classic Greek character who died due to an unwillingness to accept his limitations. The wings that Two Dope flies on is his own delusions of grandeur. To that end, Two Dope would have to “die” at a certain point due to his own pride. Perhaps it would have been sufficient enough to stop the story there.

Brother Humbled then enters. And he is the antithesis to Two Dope. The tone of the book shifts from boastful thinking to thoughtful pondering as Brother Humbled is now viewing life through different lenses. A Christian lens. Instead of wanting to be served and adored, Brother Humbled now wants to be a servant, although the transition will not be as easy as expected. This internal dilemma culminates in the last poem, where Brother Humbled pours his heart out to God and receives a response concerning his purpose in life.

When approaching this book, it’s important to recognize the different perspectives. Although each poem were written independently, it is possible to connect each poem to a specific character. The book is structured into two halves, dedicated to each character. And with enough imagination, the reader can even be inserted as well, adding a layer of interactivity.

Visual storytelling

Each poem is paired with a poster. The posters are meant to act as a visual foreshadowing of what the following poem will be about. Rather than address the posters in their respective poem analysis, the following are brief explanations of each poster:

I’m Two Dope- A black background filled with smoke and a skeletal hand emits a sense
of foreboding.

In the Night- A dark composition with small pockets of lights, detailing the uneasiness of                           walking alone at night.

All of my Friends- Using the Facebook color scheme and blank profile pictures to show                                       the ironic nature of social media.

A message to J- The white space and typeface evokes the feeling of writing a professional email to a work colleague, as opposed to writing a heartfelt plea to a lover.

Sea Sick- The ships represent the progression of a romantic relationship. This one in                          particular ends in a shipwreck, with the last ship being tilted down.

No Correlation- A painting that contains boxed-off illustrations. The separation                                                is apparent in that there are no possibilities of reconciliation between                                    each work of art.

The Fall- A clouded sky as the backdrop and a slanted arrow creates the sensation of                          falling from a tall height.

I am Brother Humbled- A blackened heart becoming anew. It visually depicts the inner                                                 workings of a person coming to faith in Christ.

Nocturne of the Nerd: the college years- This picture was taken at the Tampa campus of                                                                             the University of South Florida, where this poem                                                                           takes place. The vintage filter and font choices                                                                               call back to the college experience.

Flowers, next to Machines- The blending of these two different objects connects with the                                                   message of being both creative and practical. The fonts also                                                       accentuate the differences, yet come together to complete the                                                   title.

Loving (You) is Complicated- The heart and cross are two symbols of love. Yet like the                                                            poem suggests, it’s difficult to achieve these various                                                                      standards of love.

Imago Dei- Meant to be the closing poem, the sunset represents the end of a journey and                        a time to rest. The cross with two swords represents the internal battle that                          every Christian deals with daily.


I’m Two Dope: “Exploring Primal Urges to be God”

A braggadocios piece, the poet aims to exaggerate how amazing he is, using drugs as a metaphor for his supposed influence.

The book begins with a character named Two Dope. Without much background or context, he breaks the fourth wall with his arrogance and demands the reader to acknowledge his existence. The poem is meant to view the mind of a prideful person and how his outlook on the world is skewed towards self-glorification. That is, he is the center of the universe and all things need to revolve around him.

In order to unveil this God complex, the poem starts with this opening line:

I’m Two Dope

This line can be portrayed in two (see what I did there?) ways. One is that it’s obviously an introductory statement. Since it is the first line of the first poem, it’s only natural to have an introduction to the character that the reader will follow.

Another way is to replace “two” with the homophone “too.”

“I’m too dope.”

Suddenly, it becomes a verbal declaration of the protagonist that defines his existence. In this context, the term “dope” refers to being very good. With the modifier “too,” the changed statement now reveals the root desire of pride: to be better than everyone else.

But it’s not enough to just say how amazing you are. You need to compare yourself to a substance that attractive, influential, and causes addictions. That’s when this next line comes into play:

I am every drug in existence

Illegal drugs (or “dope”) are widely known for altering a person’s thinking and judgement. So like these drugs, Two Dope believes that he is the very embodiment of influence and control. Pride is an infectious drug that rivals marijuana and heroin. Self-confidence can be alluring.

But like any drug, there are bound to be side effects.

I am the comfort before the crash

This is a reference to Proverbs 16:18, a popular Bible verse that details the repercussions of unchecked pride. It sets up the initial conflict of the book.  Although he is living comfortably in his hubris, there’s no guarantee that it will last forever. Eventually, he will have to crash.

I’m so dope
I destroy communities

To extend the drug metaphor, the next verse deals with the negative consequences of drugs. But rather than lament on the issues of drug use, Two Dope uses this as a platform to express how amazing he is. The impact he supposedly has can be equated to the rippling effects of drug addiction.

Jail systems, I call your bluff

Apparently, Two Dope is so above it all that even the jail cells can’t contain him. Perhaps his “prominence” can grant him immunity from prosecution. Regardless, having that amount of power can inflate one’s ego to the point where nothing can stop him. Not even a jail sentence.

I’m so influential
I’m your only hope

As the poem closes, take notice of how Two Dope’s ego continues to grow as he compares himself to “your only hope.” It’s as if he’s comparing himself to God.

This is where our primal urge to be God is put on display. Of course, none of us is omnipotent, omniscient, sovereign, or eternal. We are subject to forces beyond our control. Yet in our quest for self-sufficiency, we tend to dismiss God entirely. Two Dope is meant to symbolize humanity’s departure from God. When we believe that life is about fulfilling one’s needs and desires, we become like Two Dope and demand that people make us feel like special. And it can only be one-sided.

So like choirs and choruses
Sing it over and over
I’m Two Dope

The closing lines circles back to the opening lines. It doesn’t matter who you are. You need give this guy all the praise and glory. No reason is necessary. Just take his word for it. He deserves everything.

His need to be God will eventually collide with the ultimate reality of God’s presence. Until then, Two Dope will use his pride as a means of challenging God’s sovereignty and covering up his imperfections. From this point on, the reader will get a behind-the-scenes look into the psyche of Two Dope. And it will be made evident that Two Dope isn’t as amazing as he thinks he is.


In the Night: “An Internal Dialogue on Sexual Urges and Christian Chastity”

This poem explores the struggles of a Christian dealing with porn addiction.

In the dead of night, certain sparks of light glimmer in the darkness. Confused yet curious, Two Dope begins his trek.

I walk down a narrow road in the sun’s absence.
Lost in the midst of constricting thoughts.

The narrow road is a reference to the Christian lifestyle, particularly in that it’s difficult and only a select few are able to walk it. On this journey, he notices some familiar and appealing figures.

Lamp posts pose as ladies in their worldly glory
Some flicker, others remain steady.

It’s revealed that these sparks of light are actually women. Women exhibiting their “worldly glory,” or nakedness. From this line, it’s clear that the subject matter of this poem revolves around pornography.

With that in mind, the lights that flicker or stay steady refers to the various forms of pornography that are easily accessible for viewing.

Serpents of tempting devices, ready to offer apples.
And I’m Adam,
this dark evening is tempting.

According to the Garden of Eden story, Eve was tempted by a serpent to eat of the forbidden fruit. Although Adam knew better, he was tempted by his wife to join along in this act of disobedience, leading to the Fall.

This biblical reference reflects Two Dope’s conundrum. He is the Adam that is being tempted by dark forces, which in this case is porn addiction.

I try to look forward,
but my peripherals are obstacles.

Chastity, or the act of abstaining from sexual immorality, is considered one of the many virtues that a Christian is called to uphold. The difficulty to “look forward” is a direct result of the peripherals of our sex-obsessed culture. It’s encouraged and expected to immediately act on our sexual urges, rather than to wait for the appropriate time.

Scrambling to free lust like
leaves escaping trees in autumn.
Like Joseph reacting to the trap of his master’s wife
or Samson keeping his hair intact

Lust is a struggle that affected the heroes of the Old Testament. Joseph was nearly coerced into an affair with his master’s wife. Samson, who drew his strength from the length of his hair, had his hair cut because of his love for Delilah, a woman who was able to Samson’s strength.

Keeping these stories in mind, Two Dope realizes that his “body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord” (1 Corinthians 6:13).

With each glance, I get lost in a trance.
Transported to an Eden of deceit,
not realizing that the sun could come back at any moment

Each time he views pornography, his conscience gets blinded and he willingly gives in to the sexual temptation, ignoring the reality of God’s second coming.

I forget time exists. I forget why I exist.
I’m fixated on these figures of twisted fantasies,
sensually stealing my vision from His provision.

Like any drug addiction, pornography can influence the mind of the viewer. It creates a desire to view more images and videos, but it’s never enough.

This continual focus on the temporal competes with the faith in the eternal God.

Decisions that could affect my salvation.
The inner pain is evident.
How can I be a Christian yet glorify the body?

Here it’s revealed that Two Dope is actually a Christian. And despite his braggadocios introduction, he still struggles with his fallen humanity. He doesn’t want to lose his salvation, but continues to seek worldly pleasures.

Lord forgive me

A call to forgiveness and repentance. Despite his struggles, Two Dope recognizes that only God can forgive him and cleanse him of his sins.

I’m thankful for your light

Two Dope believes that Jesus Christ is better than anything that the world has to offer.

These little light sources are nothing compared to the sun. Even though it’s night, there’s hope in a greater light source that provides warmth and guidance.

So I continue down the road

Despite these distractions, Two Dope will continue to walk the Christian path.

This poem exposes the side of Two Dope that he would rather keep hidden. His Christian title and pornography addiction creates an interesting dynamic that makes him somewhat relatable. Who doesn’t have a particular struggle that they battle with daily, yet is hidden from public view? This is only one of the many struggles that the reader will know about as Two Dope’s pride causes his eventual downfall.


All Of My Friends: “Loneliness in the Digital Age”

Using an ironic twist on generalizations, the poem deals with the insecurities that arises from social media.

With the amount of social media accounts that the average person has access to, loneliness in the digital age should be easy to combat. Advances in modern technology facilitates integration between friends, family members, and the occasional acquaintance.

In the case of Two Dope, however, social media has only led to more distance between the people he sees on his timeline. He wonders if anyone truly cares about him, aside from birthdays and important life events.

All of my friends are polished instruments,
I’m the out of tune guitar,
the broken string.

Each verse begins with the phrase “All of my friends.” The verse then includes metaphors and imagery that highlight how secluded he feels from the rest of his friends.

Being the “out of tune guitar” and “broken string” relates to the feeling of being rejected. Compared to the “polished instruments,” Two Dope feels disposable and ignored.

I’m every dissident chord that disrupts listening pleasure
I’m the washed up, ego-driven with a horrible voice.
Always making the wrong choices and belting wretched noises.

Next to feeling useless is feeling hated. Harsh critiques about your creation can take up much of your time than pure indifference. This insecurity directly attacks Two Dope’s pride from a creative standpoint.

All of my friends are spotless saints.
Sanctified siblings, singing psalms of praise.

Christians refer to each other as brothers or sisters in Christ. It promotes the family aspect of Christianity, while encouraging selfless love and accountability.

Two Dope feels like the least favorite child, prone to sibling rivalry and complaining. While his “sanctified siblings” are singing “psalms of praise,”

I’m in a pit of sin, filled with tears and regrets.

This can be a callback to the previous poem “In The Night,” which focused on Two Dope’s struggle with lust. It can also be an example of the loner Christian who doesn’t share his troubles with other Christians, choosing to wallow in his own sorrow.

All of my friends are social butterflies.
I’m the caterpillar crawling in the corner.

Two Dope is not much of a socialite. Given what we know about him so far, it’s not difficult to see why. Being prideful and stuck in your own head can make it problematic to establish lasting relationships.

I’m longing for my cocoon of solitude,
with free food and smooth tunes.

Rather than pretend to be a social butterfly, Two Dope would rather just be the caterpillar alone in his room, listening to music and eating food. It’s too much pressure being sociable, so Two Dope prefers to keep to himself in his “cocoon of solitude.”

All of my friends are messengers,
talkative creatures with moving mouths.

On social media, Two Dope tends to see people just talk for the sake of talking. “Talkative creatures with moving mouths” refer to people who make status updates without any meaning or proposed action essentially wasting Two Dope’s time.

Small talk is never good enough.
I can never muster a clever response
in the moment of a conversation.

From Two Dope’s perspective, small talk is almost the same as not talking at all. These kinds of conversations bore Two Dope, so he’s unable to contribute anything meaningful.

All of my friends love me.
Sometimes the feelings are mutual.
They love the person I’m not. 
I love to be accepted,
conform to the popular opinion.
Consciously, I could never comply.

Even with his complaints, Two Dope knows that people care about him. But he’s paranoid about the depth of his friendships. Are they as steadfast as he initially believes? Maybe they like him for what they expect him to be. Maybe that’s why he’s alone most of the time. In any case, Two Dope sticks to his convictions and chooses to be himself.

All of my friends lack investment.
The businesses went bankrupt,
the profits fell into pitfalls, and
the employees went on to better things.
Now I’m staring through the window,
wondering if anyone would break my fall.

Without the proper foundation or growth, Two Dope is seeing his relationships crumble as a result. Now left alone, he wonders if there are still friends to call his own.

All of my friends might not read this.
Either they are blind to my internal struggles
or will use indifference for personal purposes.

For this last verse, Two Dope vents his frustrations towards the friends that may ignore his thoughts entirely. Whether they choose not to see it or don’t care, Two Dope has uncovered the veil and believes that social media has exposed the true intentions of his so called “friends.”

I’m honestly not worth a mention.

Two Dope probably receives little to no notifications on his phone, assuming that no one bothers to mention him or start a conversation.

Studying ancient chat histories,
realizing I have no time on their timelines.

Looking back on chat threads, Two Dope realizes that the people he talked to rarely responded to him consistently. Yet they would post something everyday.

No news of me, I’m broken from lack of followers.

His follower count is really low and even his followers rarely interact with him. It only accentuates the perception of perpetual loneliness.

Leading a host of ghost accounts that offer no accountability. 
The illusion of social networking is more than I can bear.
I wonder if all of my friends are still there.

By the end of the poem, Two Dope understands the fickle nature of social media. It’s not as social as most people make it out to be. In a sense, it’s like talking to ghosts who won’t respond back. It makes him question if his real life friends are as loyal as previously thought.

It’s one thing to feel distant from people in your friends list. But how about letting go of your pride for a moment and love someone other than yourself?

The next 3 poems aim to address that question. And the relationships Two Dope will experience may leave him in a terrible predicament.


A message to J: “Experiencing first love and heartbreak”

Starting the series of love interludes, this poem focuses on the first love went wrong, using the internet as a metaphor for loss connection.

Subverting the “love letter” cliche, this poem takes the form of an e-mail. What’s interesting about this format is that it is also written in abecedarian form. So each line begins with a letter from the alphabet, similar to the poetic compositions used in ancient texts like the Psalms.

Writing this in past tense, Two Dope is heartbroken over a girl he fell in love with. Naturally, his emotions are in flux as he tries to make sense over what happened.

Abandoned lover, remember your former
boyfriend;

Two Dope is urging his first love to not forget him. This was his first love and he doesn’t want to let go of the experience, even if it is a memory.

big brain contained
couplets that included clingy
desires and teenage dreams. Sent via
E-mail

Two Dope was obsessed with this girl. So much so that he would think about never leaving her and being with her forever. This little section ends with the phrase “Sent via E-mail” to symbolize how he connected with her through the internet.

I’m still
here, hanging on a response to reach my
inbox.

Now that he sent the e-mail, he’s expecting to get a response from her. Perhaps this will convince her to come back. But he’s still waiting.

Obviously, she’s moved on and wants nothing to do with him. Two Dope hasn’t processed this yet and is still hoping for the best.

In fact, I
judged myself as the
killer of our internet connection;

Not wanting to place the blame on his former girlfriend, he decides to accuse himself of ruining the relationship. He still wants to uphold this perfect image of her in his mind.

Leaving behind dial up tones and
menacing pop-up messages of
not being able to reconnect.

Two Dope, now starting to get frustrated, decides to keep getting this girl’s attention. Yet it seems she’s still being distant and difficult to find.

The “dial up tones” and “menacing pop-up messages” are common annoyances that relate to the internet. He wants to move past these obstacles and connect with her again.

Only once did I consider
pursuing you again.

During the time apart, he wanted a second chance to redeem himself. He viewed the silence as neutral ground. No official breakup has been made, so he pursued her once more with the intent of starting over.

Queue the rain and romantic cliches,
remember our interrupted connection as you find another.

Eventually, it amounted to nothing. Despite his best efforts, it didn’t win her back. In fact, it only pushed her away further. This is where the heartbreak sets in and he’s remorseful over the situation.

You were the axis that merrily made my
world go around.

This first love defined his whole life. Now that it’s over, he’s unbalanced and unsure about how to move forward.

Now I place
X’s on circles containing
your face.

To cope with the heartbreak, Two Dope removes anything that reminds him of her.

We are no more than a
zero, nothing at all.

In the end, the relationship ended and there is no chance for reconciliation. Like a forgotten e-mail in the trash folder, this girl no longer has any effect on Two Dope’s life.

This poem details the experience of the first love and the tension that arises from the degradation of the relationship. Two Dope wanted this feeling to last forever, similar to how drug users continually chase the high. In both scenarios, it can only last so long. But this won’t be the last time that Two Dope will try his hand at love.


Sea Sick: “A Second Chance at Romantic Connection”

This poem details a past relationship gone awry. Using ocean imagery and extended sea metaphors, the poet wishes nothing but the worst for this girl.

We last saw Two Dope dealing with his first heartbreak. At this point, he wonders if he will ever find love again. So he sets off on a journey to find something or someone worth living for.

The opening line shows his current state.

My soul is tied to the tides of time.

Not committed to anyone, Two Dope is simply wandering through life. He’s an adventurer without a planned destination.

I set sail on the seas, searching for my soulmate.

Yet his purpose is revealed: to find another girl to connect with and chase the same relational high that hurt him in the past.

So far off from the island.
I set my eyes on the horizon.

In this ocean, Two Dope is “far from the island,” or his zone of comfort. Not sure what to expect, he courageously sails towards the horizon.

Now begins the voyage.
Nervous motions into the ocean.

A subtle reference to the title of the poem. Sea sickness occurs as a result of the rocking motion of a boat while in the water. The lack of stability that the waves represent reflects Two Dope’s fluctuant intentions with finding love.

I suddenly sought romance with my best friend
All these emotions I dived in

It all seems worth it when he does find a potential soulmate. The fact that she’s his best friend implies that there was a previous friendship that was established at an indeterminate time. He finds her in a similar predicament and it becomes apparent that they should take the risk of being in a relationship.

You held me together,
when the weather was furthest from pleasant.

During tough times, she comforted Two Dope with her compassion and loyalty.

But the voiceless winds left me paranoid.
What happened to our connection?

At a later point, there seems to be a possibility of estrangement between the two lovers. Two Dope notices this and wonders if it is worth worrying about.

Has this maiden voyage become pointless?

Still at sea, Two Dope realizes that he’s far from land and still drifting. Although he supposedly found what he’s looking for, he’s starting to question if it was all worth it.

All of my fears became reality
when you found comfort in another captain.

The answer comes in the form of infidelity. Her intentions were not so pure after all. Once she grew tired of this relationship, she simply left and began another relationship.

You must not have heard,
but a mutiny occurred.
I lost control of my anger.

News of this caused some internal unrest on Two Dope’s ship. The ship represents Two Dope’s state of mind, which is in disarray at the moment.

My guard was let down,
now I have cracks in my armor.

Because Two Dope made himself vulnerable, it only weakened him once she left.

Weakened from the turmoil.
Losing my loving manners.
What’s the point of being enamored?

With the loss of another relationship, Two Dope now views romance as a meaningless endeavor.

Through all the wrongs, I see right through you.

Losing his capacity for love, Two Dope only has anger and contempt towards this person. In retrospect, he should have seen the signs and acted accordingly.

Harboring a cold heart, I have no sympathy for you.
You moved me in ways that made me nauseous.
Now I’m sea sick.

The negative aspects of the relationship and the subsequent deception now become apparent. The instability of their short-lived romance led to nausea and regret.

You slithering sea serpent.
Silent siren, siphoning life forces.

The alliteration of the “S” sounds evokes the hissing of a serpent. This is how Two Dope sees this girl now. A poisonous creature who led him to a false sense of security, then weakened him.

I sing sad sea shanties and the storm is imminent.
I see you in my nightmares and hopeless delusions.

A storm is coming and Two Dope is unable to mentally prepare for it. His mind is occupied with the sorrow that the girl left him with and he’s unable to let it go just yet. He still wants to be the victim and seek vengeance for her treason.

A sinking Ark in a Deluge,
I couldn’t save myself from the merciless blues.

Unlike Noah and his Ark, Two Dope’s ship wasn’t meant to survive the harsh conditions. His hopeful outlook is now sinking along with his ship.

Like sinful sea dogs,
I hope you drown in your own vomit.

Ending the poem on a Biblical reference (Proverbs 26:11), Two Dope continues to latch on to his bitterness. Two Dope still has feelings for this person, albeit negative ones. And it looks like he won’t be forgiving her anytime soon.

Two Dope becomes more cynical as his ego continues to be challenged. Regardless of his intentions to find love, he’s only found abandonment and betrayal. The only conclusion he can formulate is that he is incapable of loving and being loved. Still drifting at sea, Two Dope accepts his fate and lingers on.


No Correlation: “Jadedness from another Failed Relationship”

This poem is about another short lived relationship with a lover of literature. The poet reminiscences on past mistakes, telling his side of the story and still jaded from past failures.

Shipwrecked and distressed, Two Dope begins to reminiscence on his past experiences with love.

I flirted with the idea of connection.

Personifying love, Two Dope remembers his obsession with being in love.

I’ve gotten mixed messages to no messages.

Alluding to his previous romantic experiences, Two Dope recognizes the inadequacies of the relationships. In hindsight, they were similar to the online connections he failed to maintain. He didn’t get the amount of love that he wanted.

I was still recovering, going undercover.
Until you found me and restored me to the front lines.

His drifting eventually ended once he was rescued by a caring soul. She helped build him up and soon he was returned to his former self. He was on the “front lines” again, willing to put himself out there again and welcome the possibility of loving someone again.

Our love life was like a battle with no end of sight.

To love someone is to fight for and with this person. With his strength regained, Two Dope will fight the good fight with his new partner.

We connected via Facebook Messenger.
Fittingly, I talked to a face that loved books.

An important detail to consider is the girl’s love for literature. From her viewpoint, these online conversations were like sending love letters to each other.

I was her prince, but I couldn’t save her.
Because we were both damsels in need of a Savior.

This girl is also a Christian. Now Two Dope has to wrestle with his position as a boyfriend. He’s not her Savior. Jesus Christ is.

With this is mind, the damsel metaphor calls back to fairy tales that she may be familiar with and how it connects with the message of the gospel. Because they were sinners that needed to be saved, it’s God that ultimately controls and sustains the relationship. Not Two Dope.

You were my Muse
and I was your musician.
Together we composed songs,
which we 
sang in the dead of night.
You brought life to my mummified heart.

A Muse was a Greek goddess that symbolized a particular form of artistic inspiration. As if it was a form of divine intervention, Two Dope feels genuine love and hope again. He enjoys talking and connecting with this girl, oblivious to how long the conversations may be. His heart, once mummified and dead, now beats life again.

The relationship then soon withered.
Unlike Hermes, I didn’t deliver on my promise
to rescue you the way God did.

History repeats itself once again. Hermes was the Greek god of trade and messenger to the Olympic gods. Even though Two Dope promised to always be present and fight for her, he failed to live up to God’s expectations.

And to be honest, I haven’t healed since.

Dealing with another breakup, Two Dope is now facing a pain that can’t be easily cured. He’s cursed and he knows it.

I can still hear your anger and cries.
The piercing sound of your goodbyes.

How the relationship ended is permanently etched into his conscience. Her angry departure via words still rings loud in his head.

We had a match of words.
You surely won, as I forfeit before it even begun.
A swing of regrets, interruptions in your breath.
Then you brought the worst yet:
the whirlwind of silence and neglect.

She went out fighting, yet Two Dope already surrendered. While she was exhibiting her hurt, Two Dope chose to keep it inside. This only furthered her frustrations, because he was no longer trying to fight for her.

I failed at being your guardian angel.
I’m still battling my own demons.

Two Dope was still fighting a war with his own insecurities. To maintain his pride and status, he felt obligated to take on the role of a guardian angel for his girlfriend. Unfortunately, he couldn’t handle the stress and was unsuccessful in protecting her.

I’m reaping what I sow, leaving behind weep
trails along minefields.

“…for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7)

Traversing through the battlefield, Two Dope can only recall this verse as he sees the results of his actions, or lack thereof. In the end, he experienced true love and subsequently lost it.

With nothing left to gain, he comes to this final conclusion:

I don’t deserve to be in a relationship.

Although it may seem like Two Dope is defeated, he’s not done yet. Rather than look for people to please him, he now believes that no one can deeply satisfy him.

If no one else is able to take him to a higher place, then only he can elevate himself. And that is when the fall happens…


The Fall: “Falling from the Heights of Arrogance”

The poem documents the transformation of Two Dope, who starts to fall from his pride and encounters a very special person.

The previous six poems revealed Two Dope’s ego and eventually tore it down. As a last-ditch effort to reclaim any semblance of grandeur, decides to take a plane trip to Heaven and force God off his throne.

In his head, Two Dope truly believes that his plan will work. But considering Two Dope’s past troubles, the reader can sit back and watch the madness unfold as his pride takes him to a different destination.

Alright, this is your captain Two Dope speaking
We should be reaching our destination shortly

How Two Dope managed to commandeer a plane is left unexplained. Like the first poem, Two Dope likes to keep certain things a mystery.

What’s interesting about these opening lines is the self-introduction. You would think that he’s talking to the passengers on-board. Yet there is no one else on the plane but him. While this can be seen as a little joke or even a breaking of the fourth wall, it actually reveals his deteriorating sanity. This is clearly a suicide mission, and he’s fully committed to it.

Don’t worry, no need for parachutes or precaution
I’m confident that we will reach our destination flawless

A little revelation to his reckless nature, as well as a bit of foreshadowing to his plan failing.

Wait, what’s happening?
Why are the red lights flashing?

What should be no surprise to the reader is leaving Two Dope in a state of panic. The plane is now experiencing issues. Like an escape scene in an action movie, Two Dope is surrounded by obstacles that he needs to overcomes. Although it seems unlikely that he will succeed, his pride clouds the severity of the situation.

My altitude should be ascending.
I swore I didn’t need preparations
before I started take off.
Now the wings are flying off.
No, this can’t be my season yet.

Instead of reaching Heaven, Two Dope is now falling towards Earth. Expecting an easy and straightforward journey, the current scenario is quite the contrary.

Oh, no the engines want to act unemployed

Even with everything around him literally apart, Two Dope still finds time to joke around.

So they weren’t just babbling nonsense
when they told me his aircraft Babel
couldn’t reach the fathoms of space

Through a sudden burst of insight, Two Dope now realizes the futility of his mission. Even when others tried to warn him, he still wanted to reach the heights of Heaven, as the name of his aircraft suggests.

In the eleventh chapter of Genesis, people came together to build “a tower with its top in the heavens” (Genesis 11:4). When God saw what was going on, he confused the language of the people, preventing the tower from ever being finished. In a similar way, God is sabotaging the plane in order to stop Two Dope’s ambition for personal prominence.

Now face to face with my own hubris,
I wish there was a way to reverse this.

Realizing the error of his prideful ways, Two Dope hopes to somehow survive this dire predicament. He’s accepting the consequences of his actions and surrenders to his fate.

Skydiving to an open grave, soon to meet my Maker.
Gravity’s prisoner, a meteor crashing
towards an innocent bystander.

The plane is now torn apart. Two Dope is currently dropping at an accelerated speed. With no expectations of surviving the fall, he ends up encountering someone who could break his fall.

Actually, I think I know this person.
Wasn’t He the man that bore the world’s burdens
I heard he was blameless, upright, and perfect.
Yet the religious crucified him,
and he didn’t deserve it.

As he gets closer to the ground, Two Dope is reminded of who this person is. Isaiah 53, Psalm 22, and plenty other prophecies of the Old Testament point to a Messiah that would be crucified for the sins of the world. His eyes are opened and it’s apparent that Two Dope is encountering Jesus Christ.

I had no scratches, no other reaction
than to thank Him for His sacrifice.
For being at the right place,
at the right time.

Despite falling from the atmosphere, Two Dope miraculously didn’t die. In fact, he walked from it unscathed. Understanding that this was no mere coincidence,

Lord, I am sinner.
I tried to usurp heaven from you.

This last verse is a reiteration of the Sinner’s Prayer. It’s the confession of one’s sins and believing that Jesus Christ died and rose from the grave, conquering sin and death for those who place their trust in Him.

The previous mentions of Two Dope being a Christian was merely him adopting a Christian worldview. So while he did feel guilty about the sins he committed, it didn’t lead to any heart change.

I wanted no one to be above me.
But now seeing the love you have for me,
I’m done living for my own glory.

Like Lucifer, Two Dope wanted to be like God and failed due to his pride. Challenging God’s sovereignty led to a fall that could have killed Two Dope. Because of God’s grace and mercy, he got a second chance at life.

I no longer want to be dope.
I just want to rely on your hope.

Letting go of his pride, Two Dope decides to follow God and trust in His plans. It can also be a renouncing of his alias, deciding to now go by a new identity.

The title of this poem is a reference to Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden. Sin entered the world, disrupting man’s connection with God. Rather than live for God’s glory, we seek glory for ourselves.

From a colloquial standpoint, to take the fall from someone is to carry the burdens that you aren’t responsible for, which is what Jesus did on the cross. And while the crash was a result of Two Dope’s carelessness and ego, Jesus loved him enough to take the full force of his fall. This selfless love transformed Two Dope, causing him to finally give up his futile pursuit of being God. From this point on, he will take the form of a servant. No longer prideful, but humbled.


I Am Brother Humbled: “A Change in Identity”

The poem introduces the antithesis of Two Dope, Brother Humbled. This poem focuses on the character and thoughts of Brother Humbled.

After the plane crash, Two Dope “died.” In his place, we are introduced to a new character.

Similar to the first poem, this is an introduction in which the reader gets acclimated to who he is and what he stands for. Instead of being focused on himself, Brother Humbled turns his attention to God. But given the sudden transformation, there may be some traces of Two Dope still lurking inside.

I am Brother Humbled.
A former wolf with a healed heart.
Now part of a sheepfold, set apart from the world.

The tone of this poem is more reflective, as opposed to braggadocious. Being “a former wolf” refers to his past life as Two Dope. Not belonging to a specific group and believing that he is worthy of praise and admiration. Once his heart got healed, he gained membership to a group that is not of this world.

My room for growth could use some growing.
Lord knows I’m not divine.
I whine, cut of all lines of sight.
Turn a blind eye to all sources of light.
Then wonder if God exists.

Having a change in identity doesn’t remove the past. Brother Humbled is aware of this and it becomes the new central conflict for the remainder of the book. Even though he is Christian, he still has moments of doubt. It adds a more human element to the character, as opposed the cartoonish aspects of Two Dope.

Although I choose to acknowledge it,
it’s believing that makes the difference.

To be a Christian isn’t to just know the God exists, but to place your hope in that reality.

I like when life has meaning.
But not when the definition is meaningless.
And the synonyms just lead to death,
deadly weapons, diseases, and other malicious
forces I deal with.

Comparing life to a dictionary, looking for meaning is essential to human living. When there is no meaning, it leads to disenchantment and dissatisfaction. What’s the point in living if there’s no apparent meaning? And to add to the lack of meaning, there’s only death and suffering that affects everyone.

Brother Humbled is trying to reconcile this mystery with the greater hope that Christianity offers. Perhaps if there is a higher power that controls every aspect of our life, then life does have meaning after all.

It’s a dead wish or a death wish.
To want something that’s easier than this.

Life is difficult and humans cope through a variety of ways. But in the end, the comforts that we desire won’t last forever. It’s either a “dead wish” (not going to happen) or a “death wish” (you’ll eventually die trying to seek every form of pleasure that is available).

If the after life is the last resort,
then I’ll praise God until my last breath.
Praying in order to withstand times of temptation,
while living out every text inside the testaments.

One of the main aspects of Christianity is experiencing eternal life in paradise. Because the world is broken, Christians look to the Bible and see God’s promise of creating a new heaven and earth. Where there is no trace of sin and people can live in perfect harmony with each other and God.

Don’t do life alone.
Remember your King who gave his own.

The first verse talked about the “sheepfold” or the community of fellow believers. Because Christ died for those who accept Him in their lives, Christians are called to fellowship with other Christians.

Be the humbled, holy, wholesome sojourner
who unfolds scrolls of scriptures
while meditating on His love letters.

A sojourner is someone who stays at a place for a temporary time. Because life is temporary, Christians are considered sojourners on Earth. Their true home is Heaven. The bible is a collection of love letters from God to His children, offering wisdom and encouragement.

And proclaim good news to blind readers

The gospel of Christ has to be shared with those who have would never bother to read the Bible. This call to evangelism is a mission given by God and a standard that every  Christian needs to uphold.

I am the redeemed sinner.
I am the flawed saint.
I am the exalted servant.
I am the sanctified remnant.
I am God’s work in progress.
I am Brother Humbled.

These statements represent the reverent mindset of Brother Humbled as he comes to grips with his commitments as a Christian. Whether or not he will follow through remains to be seen. He’s still human and bound to mess up eventually. But with this new outlook on life, Brother Humbled now has to interact with the outside world. Will his Christian views connect with the values of the hedonistic culture? More specifically, within a college setting?


Nocturne of the Nerd: the college years: “Doubts, Hopes, and Fears of a Growing Adult”

This poem details the experiences of being a confused student in a college setting and his eventual transition to the real world.

A nocturne is a contemplative piece of music, usually inspired by the evening. Written from the perspective of a college student, this poem is a reflective piece about the transitions that occur when attending college.

Five bars of misplaced notes.
Treble brewing, bass shattering vocals.
Halfway through college, a quarter way from adulthood.
I’m an eighth of a whole man, composing
an instrumental for the internal audience.

These symbols normally show up in sheet music, which calls back to the compositional nature of a nocturne. Brother Humbled is a young college student who is about to finish his educational career, yet still has some maturing to do before graduation.

Here I am.
Inside a dormitory of conformity.
Boys finding their manhood in rebellion.

I simply mature in silence.

As a transfer student at a university, he spends his first year away from home and inside dorm rooms. Surrounded by people his age, Brother Humbled has a tough time relating with the other students. While they use this freedom as an excuse to indulge in the party life, Brother Humbled chooses to find solitude and focus on his work.

Struggling to keep depression at bay.
Just wait, don’t succumb to the sadness.

The solitude doesn’t help with the depression, which he struggles with as he adjusts with his independence. He wants to enjoy the college life, albeit in a more conservative manner.

My past friendships consist
of distant connections and unreplied text messages.

In this new stage of life, it’s difficult to reconnect with people who weren’t always the most considerate. So Brother Humbled hopes to establish some worthwhile friendships in this new setting.

My major is engineering,
yet I still can’t build a bridge to the future.
Databases, computer architecture, and
coding languages aren’t appealing to me.

Like most young students, Brother Humbled had trouble deciding a major. Although he settled on engineering, he regrets picking something that he lacked an inherent passion for.

I settled on being an underachiever,
a troll throwing rocks at the curriculum.

His intellect was unable to comply with the curriculum before him. Like a bridge troll, he couldn’t meet the standards of a successful engineering student.

With mediocre grades and late turn-ins,
I turned into the very student I despised

As the semesters progressed, his grades were nothing to brag about. Brother Humbled couldn’t effectively retain the information, making tests hard to take. The assignments were time-consuming and laborious. It’s probably leading to a bit of self-doubt in his learning capabilities.

I failed my finals for the last time when
I changed my major to match my passion.

After failing another final, Brother Humbled concludes that engineering is not his desired career path. As a leap of faith, he requests a major change before his senior year.

I decided to design graphics for a living
and be more professional in my writing.

His new major involves graphic design and writing, which he considered to be hobbies that aren’t profitable. Now a senior, he now has to prevail through a few more semesters and explore opportunities that may help him post-college.

Some fears remain, still outlining my five-year plan.
Lord willing, I hope to play the sound of a whole man.

Brother Humbled now has to take his life more seriously. In order to become a “whole man,” he needs to complete the nocturne. From a confused college student to a mature adult, the college experience added a variety of notes that ultimately came together to execute a unique tune. With graduation behind him and the world in front of him, Brother Humbled now has to play his song for a new audience.

Will they receive it well or were they better off not hearing it in the first place?


Flowers, next to Machines: “Complexities between Artistry and Practicality”

This poem explores the concept of creativity and practicality, and how they clash (and combine) when relating to the poet.

A poem about writing. A conversation between two writing disciplines.

A slight departure from the storyline, Brother Humbled is wrestling with the concepts of artistry and practicality. Which one takes precedent?

To settle this once and for all, he hosts a debate in which each concept can argue their case.

I have a gold mine of talent.
My body of work should be in a pageant.

The beauty of art is embodied in a pageant model. Throughout the poem, the phrase “body of work” will represent different things. Whether it’s an anthology or compilation of business documents, this internal debate will adapt to the changing comparisons.

Dressed in impressionistic fashion
with flair, beauty, and passion.
Exuding extravagance at this fine event.

A subtle nod to the Impressionist art movement of the 19th-century. Characterized by the inclusion of movement, depictions of light, and thin brush strokes, this pageant model captures the attention of her audience.

I’ll give a voice to the introverted.
I tell the creatives to be beautiful in their own skin.

Introverts are known for being contemplative and are more likely to be artists. Since art is derived from one’s mind, creativity is an exhibition event in which to give a voice and take pride in one’s creation.

I manage the affair.
I’m a body of work that works overtime.
To place you in your position
where you can strut like you have something to say.

While art draws the crowd, there has to be planning and organizing involved. And this body of work believes that his managerial skills is of true importance.

There’s no security in beauty.
No guarantees that you will succeed
without me working behind the scenes.

Living the artist life is a constant risk. The success stories are few and far between, and it will not be an easy process. It’s simpler to just work behind-the-scenes than to perform.

I admit that’s fair.
I’m a body of work that belongs in a garden.

Even though there are difficulties in being an artist, there is still inherent value of art found in nature.

I arose from oppression.
Son of a bright flower, I was plucked and
thrown in the den of lions.

Using wordplay on different kinds of flowers, the struggles that inspire art allows for a more human connection.

Still I rise, greeting the sunshine.
Basking in writer’s enlightenment.
Reflecting colors of nature’s spectrum
that inspire portraits of imagination.

It’s not enough to only focus on the pain, but to learn from it. To seek resolution and clarity is paramount to the human experience, which artists aim to address through a variety of methods.

I see your point.
I’m a body of work that takes form in sprinklers,
Spraying waters of wonders and wandering wisdom.

If imagination is the garden, then revision is the sprinklers that keep the garden hydrated. To portray art in an effective manner, there has to be order and balance.

Correcting all the flaws of human nature.
I’m an overseer of writers’ tears;
I simply pass by and rain everywhere.

At any moment, a multitude of ideas are formed and considered. But only a select few will see the light of day. Still, it’s important to observe and organize the flawed and favorable flowers.

In the molecules of solitude,
I produce plants grown from hydrated nutrients.

Revision first starts with self. Every plant that’s grown is important, but only some can be sold or put on display. It’s up to the sprinkler to make sure each flower is hydrated and cared for.

I know my nature is flawed by humans.
I’m a body of work that fits all the lines in a room.
Housing stanzas into separate living environments.

The previous poem revolved around the concept of a style of music and how it related to real-life experiences. In the same way, this body of work is a lyric sheet to a song. The “lines in a room” are stanzas which host separate ideas.

The neighbors are musical notes,
intricate rhyme schemes, and syllabic patterns.

Sounds, rhyme schemes, and rhythms adds to the composition of a song.

I reckon I’m the best thing to happen to words
since literary recordings.

Ancient stories that were written down was originally delivered orally and passed down through generations. Written word preserved these stories and made it possible for a future audience to get a glimpse of the past.

I won’t deny your organizational tactics.
I’m a body of work that is best paired with graphs,
diagrams, and outlines.

While it does take effort to create a song, it’s doesn’t nearly compare the endeavor of putting together a business presentation.

I’m the final draft.
I do mean business.

The final draft is the version that gets presented after much revision and edits. Taking creative liberties won’t fare well for the business-minded individuals.

I’m rough without the right revisions.
I’m tough to write without a clear vision.

Drafting a written work can difficult without making the necessary edits and finding the right inspiration.

It’s elementary that essays, proposals,
and presentations require proper grammar.
Without me, the message stagnates.

The editing aspects of writing can be laborious and boring. But without it, the effectiveness of your message weakens.

I’m intrigued by both arguments.
As an admirer of author’s tools, I admit
I tend to separate you two like residents and immigrants.

After hearing both arguments, Brother Humbled now appreciates the value of both thoughts and regrets not taking advantage of the possible cohesion between them.

Yet with you both, my writing transcends
from amateur works to master collections.

Reconciling the dichotomy can improve one’s writing capabilities.

Technical expertise, taking the form of artistry.
One creates, the other corrects.
One cultivates, the other contemplates.
One performs, the other presents.

The differences of each aspect of writing offer their own advantages. As an artist, it’s imperative to view your work from a variety of perspectives and to figure out what needs to be worked on before publishing.

The unlikely duo.
Like metaphors, let’s connect.
Utilizing teamwork to achieve brilliance of language.

Brother Humbled is battling between his desire to create art and to make a decent living. Does he remain business-minded and practical? Or artistic and imaginative? There is an audience for both, but it’s necessary to find the cohesion between artistry and practicality, even if it’s imperfect. If we think life is meant to be lived on either extremes, then we are not living at all.

This poem added levity to the heavy topics addressed in previous poems. And with the end fast approaching, the reader was given a chance to breathe and relax with a fun poem. But the complications make a return in the next poem. This time, centered around the idea of love.


Loving (You) is Complicated: The Consequences of Loving”

This poem deals with the concept of love from the perspective of a person incapable of maintaining relationships.

“There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable.”
– C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Love has been a conflict that has remained unresolved for Brother Humbled. And his past commitments still haunt him.

The title of this poem can apply to anyone. Thus, the “you” in parenthesis acts as a placeholder for anybody or anything. To love at all, is complicated because it puts us in a vulnerable position.

Slow dance, romance, give love a chance.
That’s what my heart said.

The optimistic side of Brother Humbled wants to take yet another plunge into loving someone. And as a Christian, he is called to love everyone.

You know what will happen.
So stay slow, man.
Don’t go too fast and
pace yourself away from the past, then
keep yourself open to the potential of a relationship.

The pessimistic side of Brother Humbled is aware of what will occur and warns against just falling in love. Rather, it’s best to just take it slow and not expect the best.

I stand as a wavering, unfavorable white flag.
A blank page made of rage and
tragedies of unrequited loves
and unwritten regrets.

Brother Humbled waves his white flag that contains regrets and fractured relationships. He’s surrendered any hopes of establishing a fruitful relationship, simply going along without any set expectations.

After writing the 21st letter and 5th vow,
it got complicated.

The 21st letter of the alphabet and 5th vowel is the letter “U,” which is the homophone for the word “you.” It rewords the title and puts it in a context of writing a letter and saying a vow to someone. The complications arise when there’s no stable connection.

Like mails, I lacked emotion.
Just a destination.

“Mails” is a homophone for “males,” who are known for not being expressive with their emotions and just go where they are needed.

I’m too nice, too quiet.
I’m tall enough to be an eyeful;
cowardly enough to be Pride’s food.

Some self-reflection here. Brother Humbled is not an attention seeker, yet captures the attention of those around him due to his height.

“Eyeful” can be replaced with “Eiffel,” a tower that is a well-known tall attraction.

Because he gave up his pride in exchange for humbleness, Brother Humbled still worries about succumbing to his arrogant ways.

You and I live on opposite sides of different dimensions.
A fictional universe that I wouldn’t traverse.

The lack of communication created a great distance between the two parties.

Hypocrite!
All I wanted was your approval.
Assurance that I wouldn’t lose you.
Aspirations to adore you yet,
as usual it’s just a few futile attempts.
A pitiful assumption that we function as a duet.

The pain in this verse stems from Brother Humbled’s desperation for this person’s attention and not receiving it. He now feels abandoned. Cast aside and lied to. There’s no one who will give him a chance at love, resulting Brother Humbled not wanting to love anyone.

I’m forever lonely
I’m stuck with all these questions,
and I don’t know if you can hear me.

As time goes on, the loneliness grows. The questions remain unanswered. The relational strain only confirms the pessimism that he developed from lack of stability in his relationships.

Don’t leave me here.
Please appear…

The poem ends on a cliffhanger as the last line trails off.

As the penultimate poem, it culminates all of the conflicts that has laced the poems. Wanting to feel loved, dealing with insecurities, and accepting something bigger than one’s self. With one more poem left to cover, it’s important to keep in mind the major theme that were discussed within these eleven poems. It will come in handy as we approach the last poem.


Imago Dei: “Interacting with a Higher Power”

This poem reflects on the glory of God, as well as the shortcomings, benefits, and necessity of being a Christian in a fallen generation. The poem ends with God himself responding to the doubts of Brother Humbled, the pride of Two Dope, and addressing issues mentioned throughout the book.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)

Imago Dei is a Latin phrase meaning “image of God.” It’s a theological term which describes man’s relationship with God and the uniqueness which is endowed in mankind. As image-bearers, we were made to reflect God’s divine nature through our free will, rationality, creativeness, and self-actualization.

God, I’m your messed up messenger.
You wonderfully made me.
It’s an honor to be an heir of privilege,
a visionary for the Invisible King.

In this moment of vulnerability, Brother Humbled is admitting his innermost thoughts and feelings to God. He opens up the dialogue with praise and thankfulness.

The world needs to see You,
but I’m a foggy window to Your glory.

Brother Humbled feels like he hasn’t been an effective Christian lately. His personal weaknesses prevented him from living out his Christian purpose.

I sought comfort in Pan’s thinking and suicidal thoughts.
I was a deer in headlights,
on a wrong path trying to veer right.

“Pan’s thinking” can refer to Peter Pan (youthful thinking) or the Greek god of nature and sexuality (desiring personal pleasure). Coupled with the suicidal thoughts that has probably plagued Brother Humbled at some point, it’s clear that he was not at peace with himself. He was stuck in these destructive thoughts, desperately trying to walk the right path.

My good deeds are just scuffs on a dirty rag.
Yet You washed my heart clean of all iniquities.

Even with the best of intentions, Brother Humbled is still a human who good for the sake of others’ praise and self-importance. But God was still loving enough to pursue him and rid him of sin.

If I’m blessed, it’s Your decision.
If I’m depressed, it’s Your benediction.

The good and bad things that affected Brother Humbled were not outside of God’s control. If anything, God’s sovereignty is what Brother Humbled to this point.

This might not be the perfect prayer.
At times it feel like
I’m having conversations with dust particles
while Your back is giving me the cold shoulder.

The tone takes a critical shift as Brother Humbled laments on his current situation and past scenarios, wondering where God was in the midst of it.

I’m carrying my burdens, the size of boulders.
Yet You have the nerve
to rain down your blessings for others on earth.

This section evokes the image of Brother Humbled carrying his struggles on his own, while God blindly fulfills the desires of everyone else. This bitterness to God stems from the loneliness he’s always felt throughout his life.

I’m tightrope walking the narrow road
with bruised feet, struggling not to fall off.

A callback to “In The Night,” a piece about maintaining the Christian walk in the midst of temptation.

I continually fall short of holding Your pierced hands.
What more do You want from me, a man?

This prayer ends in a question. He waits for a response as he summarizes what he’s been through to God. How can a mere man please a perfect God?

It can also be seen as “amen,” the common word which ends a prayer. Even in this painful moment, Brother Humbled chooses to trust God by confiding in Him through prayer.

Brother Humbled, mercifully have I kept you.
You are my image bearer.

God’s response to Brother Humbled is reminiscent of His response to Job. In both cases, God chooses to exemplify His sovereignty over His creation. Through this response, God shows His mercy and fatherly love towards His wayward son.

I bore your sins.
The weight of the world wore me down, but
I dealt the mortal blow to death.
With my final breath, I laid it to rest.

The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the foundation of the Christian faith. It’s what initiates new believers into the faith.

So have your questions.
I give you my Word, I answered them.

God isn’t telling Brother Humbled to have blind faith, but to have faith in what has been revealed to him through his Word (the Bible or Jesus Christ).

For your debts, I’d endure millions of crosses
to get the point across that you are worth every second.

Even though Jesus doesn’t have to, He loves His own creation enough to give His life for it.

No matter the pace of the race.
You are still covered by grace.
You are forever forgiven.
You are My imperfect portrait.

Humans have the special privilege of communing with the Creator of the universe. It’s a privilege that both Christians and non-Christians tend to take for granted.

We began this journey with Two Dope, who reveled in any opportunity of being adored and loved. Receiving worldly glory and praise defined his life, up until his pride led to his own downfall.

Brother Humbled then entered the picture and he started out as the opposite of Two Dope. Humble and willing to serve, he was willing to embrace his need for God and to trust him completely.

These two characters are two sides of the same coin. It’s one person living life a certain way, then making the change to live a different way. It represents the dynamic nature of the human experience. We aren’t always bound to our past failures, and the future remains a mystery that may lead to better days.

We are all imperfect portraits. Paintings wanting to be the painter. God knows this and loves us in spite of it. It’s a reality that defies human understanding, but it’s the truth that defines our humanity. Love is real. Change is possible. It’s not something that we can create, but is given to us as a gift.

God’s final line of the poem reveals an important truth: He loves us and there’s nothing you can do about it. You can either accept it or reject it, but it won’t make Him disappear. So find solace in your imperfections. You were painted for a purpose.

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