Episodes

1.
I came to this moment
with my head in my hands
and my hands wet from years of sobbing.

It was not a journey’s end.
It was being roused
from dumb despair to find myself

in precisely the same place
and position I’d started from,
having mistaken

long nights
of shaking and staring into darkness
for progress.  

Now I see that of course
progress is relational
and depends on how easily

people take hold 
of those around them
in the dark. With my head

in my hands and my tears
drowning me, with no one
to shake me free of it,

how could I ever
have seen
that I was not moving?

I could choose to look up
and dry my face
now that I know, of course;

I could pretend I recognize
any of these concerned faces
and reach out.

But progress is relational
and this is not progress,
I think, but a change

of set-dressing. Still
the same place, faces
changed but still

not quite visible.
Reaching out from here —
my hands so wringing wet —

who can hold onto me long enough
to help lift me? It is practically
guaranteed that I will slump again

into this. Maybe
this time I ought to agree
with the dark that I should remain

invisible to all including myself, or maybe
I should try to stand on my own, convince myself
there is a path out, a journey

that will end up somewhere else. I cannot tell.
Hope or foolhardiness
look about the same from here.

2.
I pull my head off my shoulders
and bowl it into those before me.
They fall like pins, and this time there’s no reset. 

I’m still sitting, headless
in darkness. It’s better.
The crying, at least, has stopped,

or at least is happening
somewhere
other than right here. I can’t hear it anyway,

what with my ears
on the detached head
that’s vanished into a pit

somewhere.
It will come back to me
changed. I’ll be alone

when I set it back onto
my shoulders and leave this place
for a real journey.

I won’t have to cry any more
or lose my place. I’ll be alone.
I’ll be gone. Loose headed

and so far gone, I’ll be on
a return track the whole time.
Around the world and back again.

3.
I came to this new moment
with my head back in my hands
and my hands once again wet.

But it’s different this time,
or so I tell me. This time
progress can’t be relational

because I can’t see any faces
around me when I lift my own
to look at where they were. 

I remember the sound
of them crashing away from me
so well now. It’s traveled

around the world
and back again. So loud,
as if it was still yesterday.

So loud I wish
my head had never
come back to me last time.

I bury it again
where it was,
where I tell myself it belongs.

About Tony Brown

A poet with a history in slam, lots of publications; my personal poetry and a little bit of daily life and opinions. Read the page called "About..." for the details. View all posts by Tony Brown

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