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The poet confesses

I’m still alive,

in that my heart still pushes

the blood through my veins,

and my lungs continue to

suck in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide

but it’s been a long time since

I lived.

 

But you—you could make me

something close to sacred.

 

That is what poets do.

We note the galaxies in your eyes,

the nuclear shadows in your heart,

the battlegrounds and scars littering

the prison of your flesh and

the overripe beauty of a healing bruise

and god isn’t that a world so beautiful?

 

So… don’t be a person,

be a poem!

 

Inspire revolution and grief,

adoration and fury—

 

Be a mirror, be undefined, undefinable?

Reflect each individual’s beliefs back at them?

(You will never be an individual yourself.)

 

Become eternal, etched in ink

on paper and skin.

Then there are countless copies of you.

They are each important.

 

But, poor thing, don’t you know

the poets lie?

You can’t be a poem.

All of us are dying,

in the end.

We’re just trying to

keep ourselves from going mad on the way.

 

But—but I want what they—

what you write about.

I want to feel whole in a way I haven’t in years.

 

I’m so fucking hungry for love,

to have my skin peeled back

by someone with gentle hands

who will watch the darkness pooled in my veins

dissipate once touched by oxygen,

and not turn away.

I would devour the pomegranate whole

 and promise myself to the god of death eyes open,

trapped beneath the earth,

crushed by dirt and unable to breathe

to fill that vacant spot that still haunts my soul.

 

Stop it.

There is no darkness

lurking beneath your skin,

and the pomegranate will

never grant you salvation.

 

I know you struggle with being human,

trapped in your body, but

you are not eternal. You are mortal.

You are brief, ephemeral, and you are flesh and blood.

You will not outlast the tides or the fighting.

 

Then why do you torture me so,

offering me visions and worlds and feelings

that I’ll never even approach?

 

Because we have to say something

to pass the time.

We have to say, I am here.

I have felt this.

Have you?

We have to connect. We have to express

the inexpressible so

we come at it sideways.

Things are not as beautiful or as broken as they seem,

but how else can we make you understand?

 

So why can’t you make me into a poem, then?

 

Oh, I could write you until you’re bleeding ink.

You’re beautifully easy.

You’re waiting so desperately for more,

so cautious that the next hands that touch you

might bruise

that you never let them settle at your waist.

 

You’re so fucking hungry for love, sure,

and you’re still like a child, clutching at its skirts,

watching wide-eyed and wondering and wanting,

wanting,

wanting.

 

[…]

You’re a human being,

this is the world, and

I can’t reduce it to sounds and syllables,

metaphors and haunting imagery.

It’s not always nice, what I say,

and it’s not always true, so

why don’t you stop trying so hard

to be a poem

and remember that you have a life to live?

 

Because I don’t think I can survive this world.

 

Oh, darling.

None of us do.

included in And My Blood Sang

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