And In That Republic

And in that republic, they

built a machine,

a machine of a million names,

but one purpose,

cruelty.

Inflicting pain

was a virtue of nettles on bare skin,

leaving kindness’s soothing balm

treason.

It is why I stopped searching this world for guidance,

instead pilgriming to myself to find

the capitol of compassion.

 

But the old men raged.

Respect was a price they could not afford

and even if they paid their dues nothing would change,

they claimed.

So, we were told to accept the world they had birthed.

 

In aborted flooded canals we swam,

slow swarms watching as one by one we drowned.

How many could have been saved

in those days of historic possibility?

No one knows

and fewer venture to guess

the hypothesis being a hippopotamus

not sitting on caving chests

but swimming,

deadly swimming,

between our vulnerable bodies.

I etched markings along the wall

four marks

then a single slash through.

Four marks.

Slash.

Each friend and fellow who died became reduced to that singular tally.

 

And those city lights on the horizon,

like a municipal gathering of fallen stars,

promised endless

sleepless

shattering dialectics.

Dialogues with the past emerging,

ghosts ushering in futurescapes.

 

Ash to flame,

dust to diamond glory.

 

But no one told me the story

in full

and those dull distinctions matter.

So many points of light nothing more than traffic lights.

Yellow.

Pulsing.

Like wounded suns

struggling to breathe

telling interstellar cartographers,

“Slow down,

this is the town,”

but doing it in suggestive blaring neon verbs

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