The Lucky Ones

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Photo by Ian Espinosa on Unsplash

The Lucky Ones

Tina says we do it to one another, every day,

Knowing and not knowing. When it is love,

What happens feels like dumb luck. When it’s not,

We’re riddled with bullets, shot through like ducks.

 

Every day. To ourselves and one another. And what

If what it is, and what sends it, has nothing to do

With what we can’t see? Nothing whatsoever

To do with a power other than muscle, will, sheer fright?  

Tracy K. Smith, an excerpt from Life on Mars, Pulitzer Prize winning poetry collection.

 

1.

What is the nature of a single soul?

How can one measure its worth?

Do we weigh it by the hearts it formed in life,

or perhaps the void it leaves behind?

Terri Ann whispers, but I can’t quite hear.

Dad just smirks. He knows, but won’t tell.

 

2.

Put throngs of souls through hardships,

deny them dignity,

basic human comforts,

heap tragedy upon disaster

upon blight upon humiliation

upon their collective shoulders,

and I promise the plural response

won’t remind you of anything from

the Book of Job.

 

Oh, there will be outliers

of philosophers and saints

embracing quiet intangible dignity,

but the mass majority will go looking

for someone to blame.

 

Often those very same fringe

philosophers and saints

resigned to their fates

become targets.

 

Wanton cannibalism is an outrage

in civil societies,

and yet… and yet…

 

3.

After the Great Kantō earthquake

and before cyclone winds

begat fire-tornadoes,

a helpful policeman took charge

guiding four-thousand survivors

to what he thought was safety

but what inevitably became

mass immolation.

 

There was no way he could know

and nothing he could do,

their fate

inexorably twisted

among tails of fire dragons,

but in the policeman’s eyes,

he led the masses to their fate

the sum of his heroic intentions

now ashes.

 

Despondent

unable to bear the shame,

the officer committed seppuku,

increasing the countless body-count

by one soul.

 

4.

Is there something after this realm?

I can’t find the answer in math, science,

not in faith, not even in poetry.

 

If I contemplate for too long, the voids

of my departed soul-hearts cause

my body to ache like overused knee-joints

that signal pending monsoons.

 

Dad knows, but won’t tell. He always

insisted that I find things out for myself.

Terri Ann crossed over once, came back,

when her heart stopped, she just saw black.

 

That’s what she said, anyway. I suspect

that she just wasn’t paying attention then.

I’m sure she knows the answer now,

but I can’t quite hear her anymore.

 

5.

Danielle said it was too bad about

that rock-n-roll guy who died.

I nodded grimly, but said nothing more.

 

The soul of that rock-n-roll guy left us

for God knows where, assuming He does exist

and not just as some embodiment

of a salve for aching joints.

 

The rock-n-roll guy left a void for his wife,

children, family, and close friends to

contemplate, celebrate, or mourn,

depending on where they fall

on the afterlife belief spectrum.

 

Rock-n-roll guy bequeathed

to millions of us musical fans

a soundtrack cipher, unlocking

precious memories,

possibly including moments when other souls

left voids for us to contemplate,

celebrate, or mourn.

 

I hope there’s something after this for him,

and for us as well. I hope the blackness Mom

claims she saw was nothing more than a cosmic

practical joke that Dad is already in on.

 

6.

I watched it on accident.

Wincing, I looked away,

but I could still hear it

the lone automatic weapon.

 

I listened to folks in the aftermath

yelling that this shouldn’t happen

in civilized society. I also heard myself

joining this chorus,

yelling into the void.

 

I listened to opposition shush us,

as this is not the time to discuss

people dying needlessly because

those people just died needlessly.

 

So I shut up and listened

as others failed

to listen to each other,

instead they turned and

devoured each other’s message

like we did when this happened before

like they’ll do again.

 

Wanton cannibalism is an outrage

in civil societies,

and yet… and yet…

 

7.

The leader of the free world

Said we were lucky

For only fifty-nine deaths

 

It could’ve been much much worse

Rejoice in our good fortune

 

My soul hurts

***

***

Information on how to help the Las Vegas shooting victims.

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Go here to donate to Tim Duncan’s island storm relief fund.

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Shared at dVerse’s Open Link Night # 205. Go here to read other poet’s contributions. 

 

 

14 thoughts on “The Lucky Ones

  1. ‘What is the nature of a single soul?
    How can one measure its worth?
    Do we weigh it by the hearts it formed in life,
    or perhaps the void it leaves behind?’
    Interesting questions and the answer is definitely not putting:
    ‘…throngs of souls through hardships,
    deny them dignity,
    basic human comforts,
    heap tragedy upon disaster
    upon blight upon humiliation
    upon their collective shoulders’
    and of course, ‘the mass majority will go looking for someone to blame’ while others do their best to help, sometimes doing more damage in the process. Sadly, it’s a human predicament we can’t avoid.That and our souls hurting.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The “leader of the free world” speaks from a void. Wind him up and he says the wrong thing … invariably. Souls hurting cannot be assuaged by tossing paper towels. Your words are insightful. Prayers for us all.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Apologies for those who are going to be offended by this politically incorrect comment.

    The ‘lucky ones’ are the progeny of the original cruel Puritans and white Protestant sects who colonised America. Not only did they derive their enormous wealth on the backs of the black slaves, their entire culture was injected with a back culture of warmth, vitality and joy through music dance and theatre. Without black Americans the ‘ new world’ would have ended up financially poorer and a cultural wasteland as well.

    Instead of showing ‘true ‘ Christian values of atonement( not the puritanical bogus version ) by publicly thanking and recognising the great black contribution to the most powerful country on earth…
    instead of making substantual reparations and giving the due respect and gratitude to the black community, we, the rest of the world are bombarded with tales of US government sanctioned black murders by a racist police force.

    This attitude of white supremacy and psychopathic narcissism spills over into irrational government policies e.g. lax gun laws which result in thousand of American deaths each year. At which point is the value of human life significant or rather at which number of deaths does it reach before it becomes a problem worth solving.

    I do not live in America and am not American. I am a middle class white Anglo Saxon. I have only known two black Americans on a personal level and the only real compassion and support I have known was from both of them.
    A happy coincidence?,…maybe not.

    Liked by 1 person

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