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

***

***

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

 

 

Day 6 – Two Cats for One Hat (Or Snitches Get Snitches)

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Image source: Google

Two Cats for One Hat (Or Snitches Get Snitches)

The sun did not shine.

It was nighttime, you see.

So I sat with my book

Just as bored as can be.

 

I sat there with Daddy.

Mom slept and I sat

I hoped I could read her

The Cat in the Hat.

 

We were almost done!

My treat was on track!

For next we would read

How the Cat would come back!

 

I saw where she hid my new

Treat!

Treat!

Treat!

Treat!

If I could sneak a peak

That would be cool and neat!

 

I would not make a BUMP!

That would make Mommy jump!

I snuck!

In the bottom drawer it sat!

I snuck!

Out with the next book

Of the Cat in the Hat!

Half done with the first

Why did I skip it like that?

 

I knew I was wrong

Breaking rules was not funny.

But I wanted to peek

Before the sun was sunny!

 

“I knew I could get away with my prize,”

I thought with a smile

“And Mommy will not wake or stir

Not for a while.

 

I will take a quick peek

Like a bad little sneak

And once my sneaking has peaked

With not even a squeak

I will un-sneak my sneak

Oh how Momma would freak!

But my sneak-game’s on-fleek!

She will never know

Of her son’s geeky streak!”

 

I climbed up the couch

By Daddy I sat

With my major awards

Two cats in one hat!

Dad looked and said “Hey!

How did you get that?

How did you get two cats?

You did not read the first hat!”

 

But I whispered, “No! No!

Please speak softly, OK?

Or you will wake up my Mom

She would take it away!”

Then I heard Mom yell loud,

“Bring that book back, B.J.!”

 

I scowled at my dad

Who laughed with a wink

I was so very mad

At that foul Father fink

As my sneak was un-snuck

I thought isn’t this rich?

Never would I have thunk

Dad was a punk-ass snitch!

** *

Written for imaginary garden with real toads Celebrating Children’s Poetry – Dreaming with Stacie, and shared on dVerse’s OpenLinkNight # 193. The prompt was for us to write a poem that draws upon our childhood imagination.

When I closed my eyes to speak to my younger self, I was instantly transported back to the 70’s. True story! I was about four, or as I liked to call it, “Four-and-a-half”. Mom was teaching me to read, and I took to it like a duck to water. This is where my nerdery began.

I was nowhere near emotionally developed enough to deal with a cliffhanger, and Mom was too tired to let me read the first book to her so I could get to the second one. I took matters into my own hands, and Dad ratted me out real sneaky like and laughed in my face after I got in trouble with Mom. I swear, if I had been big enough to kick an ass, his ass would’ve been the first one I kicked that night. It’s like dude never heard the old “Snitches get Stitches” nursery rhyme, Knaamean?

So yeah, I wanted to kick my dad’s ass that night. Dirty snitch! May his soul rest in peace.

Read other dVerse poets’ OLN poems here.