The necessity of being

Men came out

Women emerged

No children

The children were gone

What happened the first month?

Outside bars and cement

Away from gas chamber

When legs and arms, mere bone

Unshackled could move once more

How

Did you pick up your lives then?

Learn the grace of living 

No one has ever said

Something so horrific cannot be vented

It can only transform into fire

from survival we are born, once more

A second life

Not a child, not young

Nor unscathed, but covered in scars

They are our metal, winking silver and rose 

We do not stand in new bones

But those that know the feeling of kneeling

Begging for the end to come

And when it did not

When we survived

Despite their best attempt to smother

It is a land of ash and terror 

To navigate and put back together

Those shattered pieces of self 

Willing meaning from devestation

How? 

With the blood of ancestors, fresh

Seeing them led to their deaths

Courage in silence, in suffering

How?

When nothing is left but the last straw 

And it erupts into flame, burning everything you were

How?

Do you design again a day, a week, a year?

With a face enured by fear

Used to screaming in the dark

How?

To go past the horror and walk into a new life?

We do it by taking the broken pieces of us

Head in the oven, wrists slashed in bathroom

Pill bottles strewn about like flotsum

All our aborted attempts to shut the terror out

We take the gore and the furnace

The golem and the hangman

In our minds eye we stand among graves

Tasting human ash whilst behind us chambers cough out families

And if that doesn’t kill us 

Nothing ever will

Because when you stand on the far side of fear

Your heart extinguished and cold, a lifeless thing

There is only survival

We are the feral leftovers

We rebuilt ourselves from nothing 

Like from clay we came, so again, a second coming

To defy the proximity of evil

We are the ones who refused to cease

Standing when nothing held us up

But the necessity of being

(For all who perished in the death camps and all who survived.)

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Only then

Thinking about strength

What will it take

To change out the crumpled suit

You’ve worn almost to death

Though not yet

It isn’t death you should fear

But not living

Being incapsulated

In redundant urge

Truth is waiting 

Like a small round shouldered girl

Watching herself reflect in cold river

If she jumps she may drown

But staying still is often worse

Easy to ignore when new to the dance

Easy to neglect when all is going well

We learn in adversity

We become more of our stalagmite

Or something transformed

It’s the decisions keeping us from knowledge

A rare moment, often painful, offers the shove

Over a cliff, out of comfort

On our knees begging for Mercy

But she is no God

We carve identity and battle from our own leather

Skinned of illusions

We stand dripping and terrified without defense

Only when it’s all stripped down, pared to the thinnest slice

Believing we cannot survive

That moment

We learn again

To truly fly

For Rick.

What was lost, is not

il_fullxfull.328869000what was lost, is not

you were meant to die

you were not meant to die

we were both so alive

even though, without modern means

your poor head, my aching conscience

may have felt the drop of earth

far earlier

the stars so alight, over our premature sleep

we did not think we could lose

and still

life shows us in picture cards

‘having a wonderful time, wish you were here!’

how tender the road without direction

how still the clock in hospital room

counting down, looking up

explanations for frailty

pistacho shells growing in number

blood coursing through our stride

the winding path and sudden start of deer

their black eyes, wells of ink

reproaching

if I had to do the same again I wouldn’t change anything

but maybe, plant better roots

for sickness can shake the most stalwart

where everything is thrown around and

stooping to bend fallen moments

can seem like it will never

rebuild what was lost

life can

be a small flame, hardly visible

it may appear to flicker

out

and still you endure

the absurdity of surviving

we laugh at photos of catheters

because it is the only way to clamber over

the horror still lying beneath everything

after all

who expects to reach out and find

the dissolve of certainty?

after all

who believes the boogie man under the bed

will actually show himself?

in the gowns of harried doctors

who poke and prod and pronounce

without

mercy

after all

our world is in short supply of tenderness

and when we implore God

or the toilet bowl

for strength and a little succor

how do we imagine the rescue?

after all

it may be a stranger who

reaches out

a loved one who

turns away

such is the carnival

and round lights grow hot

on your restlessness

after all

it is not easy to be

cast in uncertainty

adrift we only know

the tug of another’s flounder

we are strong in

searching each other

for direction

embracing imperfection

as if it were

the most beautiful moment

from horror comes

straight-backed on her tired horse

the unspooling of

hope

for as sure as you are still

racing by my side

what was lost

is not

 

Before their time

They say courage

Is learnable

Sometimes acquired in combat

 Trial by fire

But I have tasted white flames

Walked on coals

Swallowed whole

The seat of Hades

And still

Unable to grasp pole and walk electric tightrope

Never brave

A weathered rock unable to move

Even as sea receeds and escape, presents herself

It is not courage I possess

But by default

Staying power

Sometimes it is easier to be frozen 

Than act or flee

Simpler to tred water than

Drown or swim to distant shore

I am well versed in biding time

Treating days as if they were not precious

Undisciplined in

Owning my error

Avoidance becoming

Personality

They said I was a free spirit

I say

I was a gutless procrastinate

How long will life have waited

For me to act? Before

Sighing in disgust

She throws in her hat

Leaving me to consequence

For surely, what we believe in youth, will not burn

Catches up

Paying back ten fold

The only life is the one you make

To be a spectator in your own existence

Is not even a half measure

There is no reward for cowardice

No fulfillment in hiding

Life is a burning bush lighting darkness

It doesn’t burn nearly long enough

We

Are made of nothing without

Ernest endeavor 

Do not put yourself off

Climb the mountain

Conquer the voice telling you not to bother

For soon we are too feeble

Too near that twilight of the soul

It will be late then to lament

Take care never to postpone

Life

And if you must, do not be harsh 

For those who stumble can continue to try

One day it will all be so worth it

Every ache, every struggle

Mighty is not always the healthy mind

But those who refuse to lay down 

And die before their time

Last night


Last night, The Devil called

He said

I’m calling in my marker

You have the wrong stiff, I replied

I’ve been scared stiff too long

I calcified

Turned into crystal

Split apart under armadillo sun

Melted and became a resin lingua, beneath surface, hearing murmur

Of half forgotten plea 
Smoke me if you must

You’ve got the flame

Though displeased not to gain my soul, ponder this …

What you cannot snap in two

What resists

Will one day be called beautiful

And all that pain it took

Just to keep walking

When the sun burned you to clay and turned you finally to river mud

When the last ounce of yes I can

Si su puede

Became Holy Lord I cannot endure

When you felt yourself

Wilt like wax candle of the saints, in midday sun

From alive, to oil, to fire and back again to blood

When Demi-Devil’s mock human weakness

Whispering in your shellac ear
“Try your hand at Lady luck”
You know

As sure as the pain

Will come and sear that moment, right from you

A ripper of joy

Wielding guts by the garter

That no ideal lasts as long as your breath

Captured in entreaty
Oh Great Ones

Who stand, past and present

And know what we, of salinated water, shall never know

Lift us up from our pain

The fear gnashing blind over tattoo soul

Lift us up high enough, to see beyond the mountain of defeat

And like children from their deep sleep, we feel renewal

Fingers of comfort, rounding in caress

You see, evil has no hold, over courage

And still it is okay to say

I am scared, I am weak

When in our transformation we will become

Light

Extinguishing a little of the fear gripping the recess of survival

Refusing to drown 

Say it once

Say it every time

I am still

And the wind blows cool

On my wet face

I feel you near

I know I am not alone

I open the window and whisper

You can still

Hear

Gilt


The icons

Their gilted, leafed, gold

Vibrant vermillion

Watch with watery eyes

Dried on stone

As old as memory

They shift

Imperceptably

Less than the fierce jackknifing

Of human need

As hot as birth

Waiting for rain

The saints

Painted with care

Remain vivid

As those who bleed

Live too fast and bruise

As dragonflies tussle

Enmeshed in each other’s flicker 

For a shortness that seems

Long

Nightshade

Oh mama

There are days

I am bent double

The stuffing of me kicked quite free

One side is fear that feels like unyielding felt, thick in my dry, slack mouth

Making me the puppet I never was, when good and whole

So is sickness for the soul

A sour well with brackish water and no yield

I long to be your child and retrace in time to your arms

Fantasies that never were, become, our lullaby

A palpable longing for comfort

Nourishment

To be saved against invisible foe

No

I did not invite you, fever dream

No

I did not beckon you visit me and stay, pinning my anxiety as colinder

Cast as we are, sluggish on fortunes wheel

Like chance, we ebb and flow

Moths without hardy wings

I desired wellness 

and while the summer river ran 

I believed it would never turn

Against me in undertow

Disease is a glutted wretch

A terrible betrayal

A war

You stand in rags fighting until your last

We all do 

But when the bees come and honey is glitter in the trees 

We forget our fear of unseen things

Believe ourselves immortal or at least

The sleek otter who can hold his breath

Longer than sense and her confine

For such a time I rested

Against this calm

Taking for granted what I did not own

And as winter will

Reveal herself bare and merciless

Soon those hours of peace lay behind me

Damp with regret and burned yet

To leave plumes of green smoke

Evoking Gods 

Who may be senseless to our call

For the comfort of our childhood

Curled inside a place

As yet unborn

Do not

Let me stay in this cold fear

Or stand alone 

With its frozen clasp about my heart

Squeezing hope til nothing pumps

But the ice of terror 

I am 

Just born

To this strange chill

The waking before dawn of prescient worry

Will I be well? Will I ever be without pain?

Oh mercy and her ink, clouding fortelling

The whine of our need to know, what Fates only jest

My gut is silent and 

Nothing but the fast snare of my pulse

Can be heard over lamment

I am

A statue of fear

Thinking back

To the Happy Prince

He felt pain

Of others

Taking the jewels that were his eyes

Sacrifice I do not have

A lesson

To think and care as we suffer

Of others and their

Equal walk 

In nightshade