Arrival

The first breath is exhilarating.

As you gulp down the foreign air

streaming in through the gap in the tube

you realize – you’ve been holding your breath

your whole life.

Before you comprehend what’s happening

you’re pushed out into the newness.

Your senses overload;

your previous understanding of the world

diminishes in blinding brightness.

You force open your eyes,

unable to do anything but breathe in

every experience.

The particles filling your lungs

activate dormant connections in your cells

transforming you into something

beyond what you were.

You want to cry,

bombarded with stimulation,

with sights, sounds, smells

you had no idea existed

before today, before

your first day

snipped from the cord at your core

which had henceforth kept you alive.

You keep breathing.

It’s all you know to do.

Every breath you inhale new,

exhaling more and more of you.

Alive

My body’s buckling,
my knees locking,
my ankles giving out,
but onwards and upwards
I run;
even when the top of the hill
is beyond sight,
I run;
even when I can’t remember
if I’m running towards or running from,
I run;
I run til all that’s left in the world
is my heart pounding,
pounding out its answer
to life,
to heartbreak,
to love and to loss,
to all that it means
to be alive.

The Weight of Grief

Their lives were shattered in a heartbeat, in the sudden lack of two. You can see the heaviness weighing on their shoulders. The blank look of exhaustion and shock, disbelief that keeps being broken.

They went home today.

But home wasn’t home, just a house, just things that have lost their meaning, rooms without character or life. These things belong to memory, not present or future. They’ve lost their purpose, their person who gave them worth.

Maybe new worth can be assigned some day, new meanings discovered. But for now, its walls and shelves and chairs and beds are empty. These things belong to people who will never return. The ones who are gone, because they are gone, and the ones left behind, because they will never fully be those people again.

But time keeps turning anyway, for there is no rest for the weary. The heaviness they carry is too much for them to bare; it crushes people. They are so young. They are so precious and innocent and fragile. They are so strong. They have no choice to be anything else. They carry on because they must. They face each moment, each thought, each image on the back of their eyelids one by one. They stand bare-faced, stripped of all protection, encountering the world from an angle they never wanted to see. They look through hot, blurry tears and dry, empty eyes, with their haunched shoulders and weary feet and their broken hearts still insisting to beat.

Undiscovered Configurations

You and I
are particles passing,
pulled together
by life’s gravity,
mixing and melding
and making memories;
though we meet in a momentary collision
the impact reverberates
for a lifetime;
we exchange our thoughts and opinions,
encouragement and forgiveness,
admiration and advice
like orbiting electrons – each exchange
creating something new;
we expose the pulsing protons
pumping in our chests
as we share our sacred stories,
our ever-evolving truths,
building and breaking bonds and bridges,
shifting our solidly settled neutrons
into undiscovered configurations of
me and you.

The Birth of Truth

My liver trembles –

unsure how yours will reply:

will it find nutrients or waste

in the words written on my spine?

 

With a quivering sigh,

the words start scaling my throat,

but they clog at my tonsils

so I fumble and choke.

 

Tears appear, unwanted,

collecting at the edge,

diving without parachutes

in streaks of uncertain dread.

 

Neurons tighten muscles

until tension becomes pain,

pulsing with my heartbeat

in undeserved shame.

 

My blurry eyes see worry

wrinkling your face,

and suddenly it’s somehow you

needing comfort and embrace.

 

Irreversibly, the resilient words

claim their truth and are born –

sometimes out of my mouth,

sometimes out of yours.

 

Ultimate Victory

Hope and Heartbreak
wage war within me,
and I am soldiers
in both of their armies.
Though the injuries inflicted
are not of conscious intent,
the resulting pain
is only slightly lessened.
For Heartbreak’s army
fully surrounds
the hill Hope claimed
as sacred high ground,
and horror stories of wars
far worse than mine
are shared by survivors
who fight by my side;
stories stained with blood and tears
of lives lost or taken,
of stolen unlived years,
of people forced into molds
they were never made for,
stripped of dignity and worth,
persuaded they’re broken at their core.
We will forever honor
those no longer here
and those forever scarred
by hate, loss, and fear –
yet, somehow these stories
are not stories of defeat,
but of Hope’s survival
through its capacity
to redefine what victory
ultimately might mean.

Still-Forming

Pieces keep breaking off;

skin, muscle, bone

being chipped and chiseled

by life’s constant drizzle.

Drip, drip, drip –

drops carve my flesh,

my heart, beating

until beaten.

 

Yet, life works

faster than decay

can destroy.

It is not demolition.

It is digging,

digging to discover

the true treasure

budding beneath the crust

of who I used to be.

For each layer removed

reveals raw, still-forming layers

of me beneath.

Eyes of Love

Melanin, Cartilage, Curves

Genitals, Wrinkles, Nerves –

they’re categorical words,

not the treatment one deserves.

They’re not traits people earn,

but they’re worth fighting to preserve.

They’re pen strokes that occur

impacting our hopes and concerns.

They’re flashes of light in a darkened room,

that barely allow us to see or to move.

They’re what we observe and what we assume,

utterly disregarding so much of the whom.

The surface is telling, but never enough

to recognize the soul beneath its make-up.

For the colors we paint on ourselves and each other,

stifle the truth: we are siblings together.

Blood has been the ink of human legacy,

but moving forward, it doesn’t have to be.

We can become our ancestor’s wildest dreams,

if we only let love teach us to see.