Worlds Away

what the nomad brought home

Marco Polo

This is the classic game that no one ever wins —
When we go swimming in your pain,
Shooting echoes out of time,
And each is desperately hoping to throw out a lucky hand
To touch what we can’t see.

Over and over,
I call out,
And you sink beneath the waves,
Thrashing to elude my reach,
And I choke on the turbulence that surprises my lungs,
Left to spin circles around myself,
Lunge and grab at air,
Wade through all the sluggishness.
But, lo and behold, by some miracle, I reach you,
And it becomes my turn to submerge.

The ripples close in on me,
And I duck under to escape your cold fingers.
I watch from below as you sail past
Like some blinded Odysseus.
You’re the merchant king of some empty world
Where visions sting,
Movement distorts,
And cries are always muffled.

Filtering through a once-impossible distance
To the aquatic trenches where I buried myself
In hopes of somehow obtaining a victory,
There is a blinding shimmer,
And I remember
That there is sunlight,
That I would rather walk than wade,
Emerge than hide,
Feel warm than cold —
So I steal to the surface
And quietly go.

That’s when you open your eyes
And finally find
And while I drip off what’s left
Of this interminable hide and seek,
I observe as the scorching summer sun
Burns wet footprints off of concrete,
And I wonder
Just who walked away.

July 16, 2008 Posted by | Poetry | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Deserter

I don’t know when you killed me.
All I know is that it didn’t hurt
And I probably didn’t cry.
I didn’t exist by then anyway;
I was a ghost
Invisible and mute–
Or maybe just a rotting piece of flesh.
But now I’ve come back to life
And I watch the blood drip,
Flowing again
As I clutch shattered dreams in the palms of my hands,
And I don’t know what to do with the fragments
Or how to patch the wounds they leave.

You finally learned what it means to be alive,
And you flew a white flag
And sent peace offerings across the ravaged fields,
But I’m too exhausted from the rescue mission
To claim the spoils.
And so I die in battle one last time
By finally winning
When I’m too weak to join the celebration.

Leave me to pick that shrapnel from my palms,
Pull the scattershot from my chest,
Patch my armor,
And stagger my way back through the fields
To a place where I can make my home.
Go on, call me a deserter!
But I was the only martyr for the cause.

July 11, 2008 Posted by | Poetry | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment