After Finishing a Long Work

My head emerging from this paper box—
not heavy but sufficiently opaque
and put there up across my balding pate
by my own hands—expecting sounds of tocsins
ringing wild for freedom, finds, instead,
a kind of dull suppression hung like fish-
smells in the rain-sogged air, a mild attrition
of the senses. Augmentation should
have followed exit: hasn't it been said
that heroes never get their mettle proved
until they're out, since getting in is easy?
Perhaps it has to do with heroes' breezy
irresponsible ability
to close their eyes to everything except
what's pressing on their nose. But mine's a chest
no medals hang on: maybe what I see,
emergent as I am, is what I saw
before, discolored by the noisy war
of words I think I fought. I can't be sure,
so newly back from yet another tour
of murderous duty, lovely havoc wrought
completely in my reappearing head,
still plainly caught in webs of brutal thought
and brushing dusty spiders from its bed.
Existence seems imperfectly secure
and I a doubtful wanderer in these lands
I lived in, not so very long ago.
Don't throw away that box. Keep it, hold it
till I've made some new escapist plans.