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Poem contemplating life and death

Epiphany of the lemming

There’s a lightbulb cooking dust
in my troubled mind,
something so akin to meaning
I can practically taste the alkaline.

It’s worrisome, this notion of age,
that I’ve lived long enough
I’m now imprisoned by breath
that heaves as I’m forced
to watch my idols die.

Maybe it’s imaginary,
this vision of mine,
that everyone I love
suddenly takes on the stilted posture
of a marionette, string-guided
and trance-like in single-file rows
toward the edge of a cliff
that separates the light from the dark.

Daily the news comes,
be it phone call or text,
news headline or tweet,
that another great influence
of my life has taken the dive
into that unquestionable void,
and each disappearance
causes more of a stir in my gut,
more of a dread-set panic
that blooms like an electrical burn,

because I’m here too you see,
I’ve woken up trapped
inside a body of wood
and cheap metal joints,
my eyes fixed forward
as if they’re a painted stare
watching the bobbing rows
of shiny black heads
careening like floating ducks
on a river without rapids,
and only I seem to understand
it’s a trap

there’s a waterfall waiting,
and it’s impossible to hear
the deafening roar of the cascade
until it’s swept you away,
out and into the ether
far from the crowd that remains
and wonders absently where you’ve gone.

I want to scream,
WAKE UP YOU FOOLS!
THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS PEACE!

My heart a piston out of control,
turning my insides red,
but I can’t open my mouth,
my lips now just a pen-drawn line
curved at the corners
into a concrete smile of catatonic glee
watching more members
of this cursed conga line
vanish from my sight,
their scents still left like chalk plumes
in the absence of their bodies,
dissipating seed clouds that glow dim
and swirl like coffee creamer
between the ignorant passers-by.

There’s no way back from here
that doesn’t sever the world from me,
and I’m suddenly haunted
by a repeated phrase, a recurring dream,
ask not for whom the bell tolls,
it tolls for thee,

and every shaking step
carries you closer
to the source of the noise.

For Okla Elliott

Elegy for the poems lost
~for Okla Elliott

I did not know you and I never will.
Why must breath whittle itself
from the bark of broken dreams
into a quiet fist, holding nothing?

Is this what it means to be tiny,
temporary as a ribbon of light
fluttering across the water?
In the fiber optic ether, they whisper

untruths and vindications,
a eulogy for unfinished works
and the cruel, callous benevolence
of a universe robbing the night,

silencing heartbeats, silencing songs,
drumbeats, the metrical enunciations
of tongues flicking against teeth,
a guitar pick placed perfectly

through three stings in the neck
of a guitar never to be played again,
its cherry-scented case unlatched
at auction, and then museum,

beneath glass and filtered light,
they’ll come from miles
to wonder at the source of magic
and words like timpani behind their eyes,

it’s the common music of lustful love,
threaded and stitched
through every palm, every throat
crying to be heard and held,

held until morning
removes all misconception
about permanence of the dark,
something the insomniacs will never learn.