by Jake DeHaai
His bright blue eyes provided the only color to the barren wasteland. The deep creases around his mouth told tales of violence, love, and loss. He walked across the decrepit highway, the realization had set in, he was alone. He was isolated. His past had hardened him, taught him to show no emotion. Yet his internal sadness had broken out of his hardened shell and was plastered on his face permanently. The emptiness of this land constantly reminded him that everyone he had ever loved, spoke to, or even glanced at—were dead.
Screaming. Buildings engulfed in fire. People burning, trying to run from imminent death.
He used to walk the path of God; but after seeing what man could do to each other, he had decided that there was no God, for no God could let its creation do this to one another.
All the man had done was walk. He was constantly on the move, on the run from his pain, sleeping wherever he could, but never for more than a few hours. The soldiers would find him if he did. Every day was just like the last, wandering, trying to survive as the pale gray sky loomed over him.
Eyes blinded by the bright light, which followed the ear shattering boom. The concussion knocked over buildings, uprooted trees.
Pieces of his past came to him, but only in snippets. His conscious was in turmoil, plaguing him with despair. But then he saw the town. It was like a distant desert oasis, luring him with food and safety. But soon skepticism took a hold of him. The soldiers patrolled the towns, looking for him. He gathered up his courage and decided to take his chances, for he needed food.
Upon approaching the town, with one hand on his pistol, he gazed out at the ramshackled buildings, lifeless and ruined, and his inner feeling of hope dispersed. He wandered the streets of the ghost town. The cracked pavement of the road and the dilapidated facades of the buildings set off an eery tone. The ruins of rundown park caught his eye. He could still see the frame of the rusted over swing-set. The metal merry-go-round was turning slowly in the breeze, creaking with each movement. He made his way toward a faded bench. Sitting on it he opened up his rucksack. It was littered with .44 bullets and empty tin cans. As he noticed the bullets, the realization of his situation started to set in. An idea expanded across his face. It was appealing, for he had no food, no water, no friends, no shelter, and no hope.
He took the pistol out of his belt, pressed the catch on the side. He sat there and watched as the clip fell to the ground. The ringing of the metal hitting the street filled the town with noise. He didn’t care. He slowly picked it up, feeling its weight in his hands. He sorted through his array of bullets and chose one. He brought it to eye level and gazed at it. It was weathered and scratched with age. He brought it back down and pushed it into the clip. He put the clip back in the gun and pulled back the slide. He felt the cold hard steel in his mouth as he was preparing to pull the trigger. He squeezed.
God and i talk all day
in low voices. i’m driving
and he says something like
“did you know
the air pressure in one of those semi-truck’s wheels
is so great that they sometimes explode?
and when they do, they shoot off the axel like a rocket.
if you happen to be driving beside one
at just the right moment,
three hundred pounds of steel and hot rubber
comes smashing through your window
and takes your head clean off.”
“yeah. it happens every day, only
you don’t hear about it.
and do you know why that is?
because no suit makes a dime off random tragedy.
we’ve got home security systems,
public service announcements
for the endangered polar bear,
your choice of six dozen drugs
to keep you from bathing with your toaster,
but when it comes to those “unpreventable” events,
those deaths which have no patented and affordable cure,
mum is the word.
it kind of makes you wonder about things, you know?
like the connection between governmental policy
and the booming industry of medicine.”
“holy shit. take it easy on me, big guy.”
and he laughs,
“what i’m saying is that life is a gift,
and there’s really no time to shake the box or guess
at what’s inside. rip off the wrapping.
become a rock star, a monk, a father, a junkie
if that’s what you want. stop trying and just do.
roll down the windows, stomp the pedal,
but for Christ’s sake enjoy the ride.”
i’m feeling almost convinced
until some daft bitch cuts us off
in traffic, i punch the dash hard and
damn everything to hell.
a man picks up a lady of the night
a man picks up a lady of the night,
pays her to lie in bed beside him
’cause i’m afraid to die alone, says he,
pulls a gun from the pillowcase and
paints red the rented room.
he said [she says]
his dog don’t like loud noises
the only end for me would be
to be dragonflies whose wings beat
in perfect and effortless syncopation
toward a torn-open hole in the sky
[six legs wave goodbye]
hauling down monuments to the tune of our instruments
blooming, but still asking why
lord God bless and curse the martyr who
fell madly in love with his own reflection who
[drunk with pride] dove headfirst into shallow water who
came face to face to face his sorry self
and the bottom of thy swimming pool in autumn
[for he was]
lost in thought / buried by leaves / reborn into the light
may the dog eared pages of his volumes speak
boldly through the throats of future ghosts forever
and ever amen
–Elias Van Son
Elias Van Son is a young artist living in the Catskill mountains of New York. His writing has appeared in ATOMICA, In Preparation, The Angle, and elsewhere. His first full-length book of poems Little Feather was published in 2009 by Some Blaze Free Press, and an EP of his language-based music is forthcoming from Steak and Cake Records.
“Life is what you make it,”
They told me. So
I made mine
sit down and
I stuffed it
into a small, neat,
square and shiny
I crammed a
in its mouth
lest it embarrass me or
scream for help.
I chastised it
outside the lines,
for singing too loud
in the shower—
for thinking for itself.
when my life
dared – to fidget,
I tied its hands together
with good, strong rope
made of moral fiber.
weary and pasty.
Its limbs & lips
faded and sank.
That neat and tidy
box is now
its casket— its tomb.
Gauzy fibrous pipes –
melded pinwheels, or
lacy doilies crocheted by the sea.
Interlocking, united, porous
where invisible beasts
Formed by the hand of Poseidon’s
joined by his caress
forged by his wrath.
In this universe
unknown & overlooked by
militant waves, these
rise & fall—
are created & destroyed
Save a dying world.
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