Abe Lincoln liked to cut down logs
Washington cut down that tree
Obama chops down Republicans
And that’s just fine with me.
Abe Lincoln liked to cut down logs
Come here honey, I won’t hit chou
I gitch you, you know?
My touch is like babies butts
People kill for me to touch them
Not the other way around
I found you anyway
puppy and lost
you cost me a hand and a shoe
Now runny and red
you slither away
A mess of a sheep
wooly too late
So much lamb’s blood,
I’m sitting on the curb talking on the phone to my friend whose dad has just died. It’s hot outside and I’m holding the remnants of a popsicle in my hand.
At first, the friend isn’t really even talking. He’s just making guttural choking sounds and I’m praying they start turning into words.
Drowning in sorrow, I think in my head.
Then he speaks and I stare at the flowers in front of me. Not really flowers, more like reeds or wild sticks - the swamp of Chicago desperately putting on a bouquet.
It’s hard, so hard, he says. But when he went, he went with such a grace, a release. I, I’m dealing with my own selfish wanting of him, but he knew what he wanted, what had to happen. He knew, and then he went away.
Wow, I say. Because I don’t know what else to say and I want him to keep talking.
When he went, my brother and I lost it, we were beside ourselves. But, even until that point, through all our crying and sobbing, he was serene. He’d take us in his arms, hold us, pat our backs. But then he’d look at us with this look that said, ‘I know how hard this is for you, and I sympathize, but for me, it is easy, It’s the only way.’
I don’t know how to say this, but I feel like in the past 24 hours, he’d shown more dignity and courage and fearlessness than he had his entire life. It took until the final hours of his life, but I’ve never seen such bravery. At this place in my life, I can’t even fathom a strength like that.
Wow, I whisper. And this time the wow is a reaction, not just a filling of space. ‘Wow.’ An exhale. A breath.
One of many I take and continue to take as the swamp reeds blow and my friend nods towards exhausted sleep. And the other night walkers on the street breeze by.
Lake without rain
Tree without bark
Love minus pain
Light lacking spark
Me without you
You needing more
Shut without open
When one is a stranger to oneself then one is estranged from others too. If one is out of touch with oneself, then one cannot touch others.
—Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift From The Sea
And what’s to keep me up
or moving down
in a drowning billow
hello, it says
Like a pillow
used for suffocating
or for sleep
Back to bed or stay awake
I’m re-reading The Diary of Anne Frank. In one entry, she describes the history and demise of her fountain pen, originally given to her at nine, when she was in bed with the flu. Now she’s 14 and it’s the pen that has been with her through the year and a half in the Annexe.
She’s sitting at the table with her dad and sister while they work on Latin. The fountain pen is also hanging out at the table. Anne’s rubbing beans, which, as she describes it, is the process of de-molding old beans. At a quarter to six, she sweeps the floor and throws the dirt and old beans into a newspaper and onto the fire.
The next morning, the pen’s clip was found among the ashes, but the gold nib was nowhere to be found.
"I have one consolation, although a slender one," she writes. "My fountain pen has been cremated, just what I want later."
I stretch towards
and not away
plant to day
song to night
an accidental boxer
who’s found the fists to fight
"But," my friend who’s getting married says - a few beers in - "I’ve been thinking a lot about the end of the world lately. Like seriously, how are we even here in the first place? And if we come from bacteria or whatever, why is the bacteria even here?"
I laugh and tell her we’re here because god must have had a craving for sliced bread.
"No, I’m serious," she says back. And now she’s very seriously balancing a rice krispy treat between her thighs. "They’ve said that at the rate we’re destroying the world, we literally have only decades - decades - before this place becomes uninhabitable. Like, how are you supposed to have a kid if they’re going to have to live in a hole or something?”
No one’s living in a hole, I say. You’re kids aren’t living in a hole.
"Yeah, well let me tell you. Shit’s crazy. Getting married and having a kid are like the last things you need to be thinking about when the world’s on the edge of ending."
"Galoosh" go the trees so high above
"Alack" cries the raven to the morning dove
"Where" asks my hand to its missing glove
"Away" says the breeze to the one I love
"Galoosh" the trees stutter again once more
"Matter" croaks the raven to the forest floor
"Gone" weeps my hand all frozen alone
"Lost" moans the glove