One Child Survived the Village Purge

Here
are all the goodbyes I never
got to say,
those that had many chances
but were always held back,
set aside for another day,
another late-night conversation
under the eaves of
a shared misery,
hanging on the glowing embers
of another drag
from the last cigarette
before we’d part ways
and catch different cabs
to where our separate
lives-under-repair
were waiting…

Always that one goodbye
left unspoken,
the repeated gamble that
there would be tomorrow
to share,
to have the same four walls,
the same artificial light
surround that festering brokenness
upon which we had built
a matchstick tower of co-dependency,
of sacrifice and selflessness,
and of growing in the knowing
of each other
even if there was never
really enough time,
and of the illusory moments
when we believed,
despite our jadedness and our
mutually exclusive agendas
that we were friends…

The goodbyes that never
got the last contact
we were entitled to,
that last drunken, defiant
“fuck you!” to the world
after which we might have
high-fived or fist-bumped
or toasted what we had
for the last time
for luck
have dried upon the cheeks
with the bitterest tears
never shed, scrawled
on a million words on paper boats
floating away down a flood
and on paper cranes swallowed
over and over by a burning sky,
where our once entangled existence
scared the Big Brothers so much
they obliterated every last word
we might have exchanged.

But it lives in my heart all this time,
and I keep these goodbyes warm
with all the soiled honor
and tamed belligerence I have left.
Call me a fool,
but maybe someday,
in another place,
I’d turn them all into a new hello
with all of you.

Nemesis

I used to think of you
as my destroyer
and I swore I would rebuild

and prayed so hard
to be delivered
from vindictiveness;
karma does not forget
and I should forgive
at least myself.

But the hunger for closure
is a bitch
and as I walk this new road
I’d find myself looking back,
craning my neck to see
if the truth has caught up on you
and made you pay for
everything you’ve done.
Deep inside
I want to scour your ruins
and take back the part of me
you’ve stolen,
never mind if it no longer fits,
never mind if it will
now render me uglier.

But see, that’s just
wishful thinking.
There wouldn’t be a tragic
downfall that finishes you,
no bankruptcy or incarceration,
no mutiny to overthrow you.
Real life rarely indulges
in poetic justice; it is more subtle.
Instead, you will never rise
out of mediocrity
and shall remain in obscurity.
You will try hard, but accomplish
nothing of value. Your name
will fade unremembered.

That kind of existence
is my worst nightmare, see.
I’d suffer anything
just to not be irrelevant.
And if I ever learned a thing
from that abhorrent memory
we now mutually mutely share,
it’s that you and I
are so much alike.
You are my alter ago.
You are what I almost became
if I hadn’t been
as vigilant as I’d been.
You represent the worst that
life could have brought out in me.
In an alternate universe I am you.

This version then, I know now,
will deprive me of the sweet,
definitive taste of revenge
in catching news that life
has crumbled you to dust
and spat on your dreams
the way you did to me and mine.
But you will pursue those dreams
in circles
and never see them come true.
Neither of us loses,
neither of us really wins.

The Monster Inside

It’s been enough time now
and on the surface the dust has settled
I am far enough away and still gaining
from the wreckage of the inevitable denouement
of your reckless downward spiraling
and my naive attempt to stay at a place
where I knew I could never know peace
I no longer think about you
you can no longer reach me
not in flesh nor in thought

but sometimes I still have nightmares
about it
about you
and all the things I should have said
and all the things I should have thought to do
on the day my discontent got too loud
and cornered your black heart
and you lay down your last desperate card
and decided to make it clear that
I am nothing but a disposable pawn to you
and you had me dragged away from the empire
of spent time I had lost my heart on,
the smell of burning bridges clinging to my clothes

it happens again and again

and in all those nightmares
I see the faces I thought I had forgotten
but there’s an alternate ending
I was unafraid and I fought back
and made a bigger mess
than what your bourgeois sensibilities
feigned shock about,
I tore everything open
for fate to sort out later
and in those nightmares
I held justice in my bloodied hands
before you shut the door on me
and it was much easier to forget everything
least of all your common, insignificant beings

x x x

and it only still hurts
not because you matter
not because my regrets
are bigger than the freedom
but because it is still yet to be revealed
one, why it happened
two, where it fits

In the Days of Galileo

Did you really think you could put a price on my pride,
did you really think it was worth only what you sold yours for?
Did you really think you could parade your dishonesty in my face
then ask me oh so casually to partake in it?
Did you really think I wanted what was yours,
that I was one of you?
Did you really think you were entitled to tell me what I should aspire for?
Did you really think you were destined for greater things,
with your common greed, plastic values, and money-bought triumphs?
Did you really think this place was an empire,
that being here was everything, that outside there was nothing?
Did you really expect me to believe your cheap talk,
did you really expect me to do as you told me,
did you really expect me to follow you down that road?

Do you really see this as a betrayal?

You insult me.
And right before you pulled the trigger you called me ungrateful.
And asked me what more did I want, as if you’d given me everything.
You gave me nothing.

Runaway Siren Come Home

The sea is following me,
or it feels that way.
There it is, right across
the path of silk,
under a canopy of daydreams.
The breakwater that holds
my body and my footsteps
encloses its blue soul.

Everything and everyone
that I see here
seems liquid
on the inside.

I am a vagabond,
but I am heir
to all this beauty.
It calls to me,
asks me to return,
every day,
chandeliers all polished
and festooned with all
the shooting stars I’ve
ever caught
and wished on,
carpets strewn with
fresh-cut petals of
inspiration so
abundant I can
trample them underfoot
and be stained by fragrance.

The sea is always here,
even as life
pushed me around
like a sliding block
along right-angled alleys
of elevators,
architected hallways
and rush hour traffic.
But the hard surfaces
of city chaos do not
pass beyond this point.
After this wall—
only love, only the deep.

I should have come sooner.
Here, in this place,
is everything:
purity and flow,
and memories of when
all was wind and light.
Here is the acceptance
that the past
could not have happened
any differently.
Here is the conviction
that I am at this moment
exactly where I should be.
I stand here
on the edge of the world,
with all traces gone
of ever being wronged.

Cross Examiner’s Labyrinth

            You were a part of me
    the good and the bad:

        the vision and the hunger
            the ambition and the greed
        the curiosity and
    the slow and certain descent
        into corruption

                    and that’s what
                made it hard to hate you
            what I loved about you
                was me and
                what I could do for you
            what I hated about you
                was what I hated about myself

                    a purge was almost impossible
    your destruction
        was my destruction

    we were so dangerously close
that I carried your name and
    you trusted me with your children

            I spoke your lies for you

        you pretended to care
    about the things I cared about
and used my sincerity
    to rob the world
                            you used me

                    and I was make-believing
                        I was changing the world
                            in spite of you
                        and through you

                    but lies run dry
        and though our inner evils
    contained each other,
        mine was never quite
            prepared to go that far

and I stopped lying to myself
    the day I told somebody
        about you
    about us
        and how dirty we are

I took responsibility
    for you, see

                and I had to quit doing that
            even at the cost of
            sounding holier-than-thou
                    and having the entire internet
                call me out and
            dig up all my past bad choices
                and proofs of madness

    it got worse before it got better
        but it’s better now