Our Three Winners

“Ignorance killed my brother.”
“Spread love because they were full of love.”
— remarks from Deah, Yusor, and Razan’s families

Snow fell upon their bodies
a wedding with the earth
while the wind blew upon our tears
fingerprints of ice, soft kisses
of cold breath escaping their lungs.

At the end of a bullet
screams and bloodshed
find your arms still held open
a crescent from hand to hand
and your soul is that star
that burns on in us.

The light overflows
wanders among the weeping
and reminds us
we are still alive.

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Fast and Slow

The top of my head
feels hollow
fills with sounds and delusions
that echo
in time with my heartbeat
my pulse
the flow of electrons
through neurons
between where my finger
slides through graphite
on paper
to where my shoulder
hinges at my neck
and past my dry mouth
sagging cheeks
and languished eyes
so I stop thinking
drained by prayer and famine
to observe
the world as it wavers and twists
lilting sideways
as my steps lurch forward
the passages of overhead conversations
like “It’s crazy
in the hands and feet alone
are half the bones
in the body”
and my feet are tired from standing
my hands are numb
from holding open this Book of Life
reading all the words
to find my name
to realize
my hands carry this weight
as much as my feet
that half my body is assigned
to doing
so half my mind
as it withers in sacrifice
should find itself trained
not upon being
eating, drinking, desiring
but doing.

To Death

In memory of Joseph Alexander Banks

To Death

I. Velocity

The average man weighs
around 180 pounds
and from a seventh story fall
it takes only three seconds
to hit the ground

In that span of three seconds
I wonder what he thought
if his mind like mine
was filled with kinematic equations
formulas predicting
the moment of impact
telling us precisely
his highest point
before he fell

I wonder what that weightlessness
was like as he hovered in the air
a slight curvature, torso bent
and arms spread as though in flight
was it a slow decline or depression
that curled away from stillness
as the hands of gravity
held his hands for one last moment

And momentum, a product of velocity
is either positive or negative
either we are rising or falling
but maybe on the ground
we see it backwards
maybe falling isn’t falling
if it feels like flying in the air

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The Bookkeeper

See how the shelves are lined with books of every size and shape. They have no titles here, only names. Look, that shelf just to your right, on the lower shelf, it’s a small book. Red cover. Small words. Young Thomas Mann. Please, pick it up, take a look. No? It’s not to everybody’s taste. It was only written in a few days, not much thought went into it before the author finished.

Lets keep going, shall we?

You’ll notice some books are newer than others, some far thicker, some almost too thin to be a book at all. For a time we held a section entirely composed of leaflets, but we gave up the endeavor to catalogue our books by year, rather than length. Some things, you know, are just too predictable, and others are simply too constant. There will always be brief stories. And yet, they are sometimes the brightest, most sincere. However, as you may find as you look about, the lengths have been growing steadily longer for quite some time. The curator upstairs tend to think it’s a trend that’ll be reversing soon. We shall see.

In any case, what is your preference? Would you rather the vibrant ones, rich with detail and vivacious prose? They’re thrillers, in a way, strewn with velocity but sometimes lacking any genuine conflict. There are others, mind you, with a bit more wisdom, rather, a touch more timelessness: They may have softer covers, seem bound from a time before ours, the words dense with vicarious longing, drawn out and slow, a relaxed pace fit for nightly pleasures. Oh, look, just consider these two: Courtney Brown, a bright piece that’ll surely make you feel for her, and then Malcolm Jones, that might as well be a history if you make it through.

Still not piquing your fancy? Don’t worry, though, we’ll all end up on these shelves eventually–whether you want it or not, authorship is inevitable in the library of life.

Sculpted Lightning

or, The Beautiful Sameness of Normalcy

Original photograph by Fir0002/Flagstaffotos via Wikipedia, “Lightning”

Not like vinegar touches the tongue
or the futile efforts to mow down cement
make the sidewalk bloom with daffodils and daisies
let the summer unfold in whispers and sideways glances
let the heat undulate above the asphalt
paths that lead us to park benches draped in shade
and supernovas launched from baseball fields
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