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I was steeped in the same
seething cauldron of sordid life
that gave birth to revolutions,
a history driven, serendipitously
brewed elixir of post-exposure
perceptions and firsthand crimes
with victim backstories and
digging for links between
the perpetrators and an existing,
widely acknowledged face of evil
because apparently collective hate
is stronger than a single corrupted
heart. That was the kind of
cognitive sewage that I rose out
of, along with others like me that
thought to fashion questions out
of disputed truths the way the first
iterations of man thought it might
increase their chances at survival
to sharpen sticks and rocks. Ideas,
they spread like wildfire, once
they get started. And the best
ones can cross oceans, shaped like
driftwood and ready to burn again
on the shore where free spirits
gather, drawn by warmth and bound
together by the implicit awareness
that no two fires are alike, that
nights are like seasonal riptides:
dangerous, natural, integral to
catharsis, and with the dawn come
new battles, new weapons, new
iterations of what it means to be
human, and new questions that
just might burn brighter in the
next inevitable darkness.

“Self” by photographer Thanh Nguyen


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