Daily Archives: August 1, 2017

You Half-Unbuckled

verging upon 
dropping all your armor,
ready to take on what is coming
from out of those dark mists
before you, those charcoal clouds
boiling from eternal battles;
edge dulled, bow unstrung,
arrows blunted, still
with your stance set to stolid,
holding fast before
what is coming toward you;
trying to recall every word of advice
about how to meet this enemy
with no toxins in your grasp,
no arms to bear against it;
trusting you cannot fall
or fail except by failing
to face it, even if it kills you,
even if it takes you almost
serenely, almost with grace,
lifting you into its maw
and swallowing you;
refusing to let yourself
be absorbed, digested,
making it spit you out
or choke upon the weight
you carry with you into war;
unbuckled, unshackled,
naked now as it approaches, still no
shake in you, no shiver,
nothing but the unsheathing 
of what sits at your core,
the one thing it cannot surround
or destroy: the essence
of what has answered
throughout history

whenever your indomitable name
has been called.

Getting Closer

When they first came
they measured themselves
against the trees, found themselves
less than acceptable; shrugged, cut down
the trees, built homes, built forts,
slid the scraps into their mouths
like toothpicks chewed solely 
for the soothing taste
of wood, of victory.

When they’d been here for a little while
they came out of homes and forts
to witness and approve
beatings, burnings, massacres,
displaced thousands marching from 
their homes, footprints freezing into memories
in reddening snow, baking into
blushing sands; they slid all that 
into their mouths, pills to be swallowed
for prevention, for nourishment,
for their great peace of mind.

When they had been here for a while longer
they began to imagine themselves
measuring up, full-rooted here, seeded here, 
forest primeval; shrugged, cut down memories
of those who’d been here all along,
slid those names into their maps,
their family trees, called them their own. 

One day I came out of my home
and saw that no matter how much
I mourned departures and raged over
shed blood, I was now mostly one of them
thanks to the long “whatever” and “so what”
of how casually they’d cut down and consumed
my place, my people, my places.

When I’d known that for a while
I chewed off a piece
of me, a huge piece of me as one might
chew off an arm or leg, a piece I saw only dimly
as it disappeared, as I left it on the path
and moved on, a wraith, with a mystery
taste of ashes, wood rot, metal flake
on my tongue; then I shrugged,
told myself I was getting closer to an end of this road

and said I was long overdue for that
and lightening my load in such a savage way
was a departure all its own
and nearly as efficient as any other.