Max Gardner’s Acceptance Poem – NACBA Annual Convention, April 2013

Life promises no praise or eulogy
For those who fight for consumer rights.
Compiled, it’s history, recorded and blest,
Written in books with all the rest.
It’s a code just two words perpetuate;
Creditors win and debtors lose
Unless we consumer lawyers take the fight
And take the chance to always do what’s right.

Exist is not the same as live,
For all mortality can find to give
Will not make life entirely painless,
Nor will it fail to make the lawyer less stainless.
Take it seriously and what is it worth?
What’s the reward at death, or at birth
If you mold your face to fit the part
But fail to knead and bake the heart?

From compromise and things half done,
To failing to make a more hallowed one,
Piling their trifles in little heaps,
Regretting sowing where no one reaps.
Much better the lives of Gladiators
Than sulking, twilight mediators,
Hovering between matter and dreams
And differing from each, or so it seems.

Some might say I have tried to build a cathedral alone
Or to carve consumer law like a cutter his stone.
Or like Paul imprisoned by Nero,
Or Dante, exiled, before Inferno,
Accept secular substitute for reason.
Scorned like fruit bloomed out of season
For dreaming of law too intense
To bring the dreamer recompense.

Even love is not without its horrors
If lived today in fear of tomorrows.
No weekends, no Sabbaths, no vacations,
Only sunset’s stark insinuations.
To face the quest means chance at loss,
There is no Easter without the cross.

The spur of challenge makes its mark,
Threatens, reverberates, forecloses dark
Shadows and doubts; and only resolute defense
Can overcome determined creditors’ pestilence,
And dominance of love turn the defeat
Into objective…a life complete;
Complete with trifles, things so small
But without which there is nothing at all.

Shadows lengthen, twilight is lent
To desolation, tone and tint.
Glimmering with dreams and watered by tears
I caress the flowers of yesteryears.
Different drummers playing the tune,
And memory’s ear failing me much too soon
I mark the cadence of a distant drum
Dreading the life of law that is losing its bloom
When you’ve reached those years you should know
Wherever the heart leads the rest must go,
So go, if I must, without the drummers,
But never forget these wonderful honors.