Let me remember that the universe has given me second chances, saving me from seemingly inescapable misfortune. Let me be strong in knowing that nature blesses us, and our hearts can only break once over anything under the sun.
Right now, I have breath in my lungs, blood in my veins, and though I have felt pain, it cannot compare to unfathomable things being endured by those braver than me. In the patience of others, we are taught that we need not fear anything, even death, and that death is just a culmination, our magnum opus as we flower into infinity. So, let me remember to think of that kind of bravery before I ever utter “poor me.”
Let me not lose gratitude and remember that if there was no disappointment, then there would be no joy. Out of all the possibilities, the universe picked me to live and to experience yearning, beauty, and pain, so let me remember to be grateful every day.
Whether successful or not,
the journey must begin
across the wide world,
it’s shimmering cities
cold mountains and deep seas
by train, boat, or plane
to find one thing
that may assuage the pain.
I had to choose between you
slowly becoming the world
or the wide world beyond you.
Then, you jumped off that bridge
with me begging you not to.
I couldn’t force you to choose solid
ground and cared too much to watch you drown.
I returned to the world before
there was nothing left in it for me
and waited with the certainty that
we will meet again on safer shore.
I look for you, lost in the carnival. Children run over popcorn-covered dirt floor and swing sticky, cotton candy hands as adult bodies push down and disregard. The carousel spins. Painted horses and unicorns move, cream, red, and white with no end in sight. A throng of clowns try to engage and elicit laughs before they move on. The carnival crowd, all of them, always the same.
Sometimes, you’re part of that crowd but radiant when you come into your own. I miss the adjoining, expansive field and shining constellation sky, searching endlessly for your smile.
I find you on the outskirts, standing in front of a porch and see a stranger kissing you and holding you as if everything about you is already known. Did you like the kiss? If so, you’re both lost and found.
Now, I face a fun-house mirror. Half of me also looks lost, the other half distorted. Unable to recognize myself, I’m forced to leave without explaining how hard it was to find you.
Life is nothing more than a burst of energy that flickers and then ends more quickly than the human mind can comprehend, so writers race against the demise of everything around them and take on the mission to try to preserve what surrounds them. Writing is an act of conservation before oblivion.
I write with the realization that the movement of my life will progress so quickly that I’ll not even be able keep a single atom of reality indefinitely. I am just one, but numerically, I can’t even be counted as one tick in the clock counting the totality of time. My body continues on the predictable path for which it was programmed, self-destruction. Like all else that is mortal, I will be gone without breath, words, or even a trace of sound.
Logic dictates that everyone I have ever loved is also finite. Living now, I grasp at memories of those treasured, trying to save them in some way. Writing enables me to spell out, to the best of my ability, the context that a photograph cannot capture. I hope earnestly that years from now, others might find my words and know what it was like, for me, to be part of the living world. Just as I am able to sit in wonder while reading about the history and life of those gone long ago, I write in the hopes that someone might read what I have written and learn something of who I was and who I loved, and in this possibility, there is some sense and reprieve in what was always meant to be a losing battle.
Rogan Kelly’s Demolition in the Tropics is a magnificent read – Within the book’s pages, one finds a world of love, gratitude, and beauty. Kelly observes subjects closely and with care. Rich in unique associations and original descriptions, Kelly’s prose poems show us the beauty in the everyday. Whether he describes stopping in at a diner for breakfast or completing his tasks for a job, the poet successfully encapsulates worlds within paragraphs. Though he is good at describing everyday events, Kelly’s work is anything but mundane. His poems are complex and evocative, and a superficial read will not be sufficient to understand the depth of the work. Upon close examination, the reader understands that although Kelly may be describing what appears to be ordinary, he understands that everyday moments simultaneously contain a multitude of possibility as well as nothingness. While being fully immersed in the text, the reader learns to appreciate the beauty in Kelly’s poems, but with poignant turns, Kelly cautions against trying to possess what is ephemeral.
Whether it is the wonder of a far away city like Alexandria, Egypt or the perfection of another person, Kelly examines the subject matter in his poems with a reverence that often eludes contemporary art, reminding the reader of greats like Dante or Petrach. Reading Demolition in the Tropics teaches us that wonder, love, and beauty surround us at all times if we only take the time to observe. At the same time, we are reminded that change is the only constant, which is why we must appreciate every moment. As a poet and reader, I highly recommend Demolition in the Tropics. It is a great study in writing, poetry, as well as the specific form of prose poetry. Demolition in the Tropics is available now through Seven Kitchen’s Press.
Cursed earth, always at war,
a field for violence and pain.
The poor, dead and buried
in shrouds the same
as what was worn
for nights and days
with no choice for change.
No one for these deaths
ashamed, except the powerless
always expected to have shame.
The earth trembles for so many lives
that the heavens can’t partake,
yet humanity stands with its
as lives extinguish
coming to ground,
bodies black, white, and brown
all reddening the ground as they fall.
The good earth screams,
beware this treading over sacred lines
and of this doing with no shame,
leading to an irreversible idling of being
and the return to the
primitive part of the brain
which revels in violent games.