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the standing dead [poem]

I was reading, and a character said “you think you don’t deserve to be told that you’re good”, and I thought, oh. And this was a story that I’d been struggling to read, because it was hitting every sore spot and rubbing at every bruise with bony knuckles, and I was just trying to get through it. Catharsis, right? We read tragedy because we want to take the big breath in at the end with the characters and finally come up for air. My friend, she told me, read this, it’s the best, it’s the best there is. And damn, yeah, but –


I think I stood on stage and then the crowd applauded and I was surprised. I don’t know what to do with that.


I think, sometimes, I exist to write it all down. Sometimes I dress it up and let other voices say it, sometimes I let metaphors talk around it, sometimes I take a knife to my stomach and spill my guts and whatever happens, happens.


Applause.


I always thought it was weird, right, that when people find out they’re dying, they don’t immediately reach for a pen and paper and start scribbling down everything they’ve ever learnt, everything they know, and everything they want to know. I don’t understand why they don’t have that urge. It’s bone deep in me, baby, and it always has been. I think it’s weird that my dad hasn’t picked up his guitar for a year when it’s defined his whole life. I can’t imagine not being achingly passionate about something, even when you hate it.


Applause.


Six AM, migraine, and typing away on my phone, each key tap vibrating against the mattress, and I’m telling another story. These are the best ones, the ones people call poetic, because they’re borne of hurt and because they’re blunt and Hemingway-esque and people say ‘write more of this!’.


Applause.


I’m trying, darling, to wrap this world in a bow and give it to you. You know how they cut Osiris up into pieces and scattered him across Egypt? I think about that, and how maybe that’s what I’m doing to myself. Here’s a piece of me, here’s another piece, keep digging and you might find all of me, and if you put me back together, then well, you might just found a whole new kingdom.


I’m tired, you’re tired, the whole world’s tired and running on fumes. I can’t string a sentence together. But goddammit, I need to leave something beautiful behind. Dust away the sand and bone, love, and remember me. Even as I stand on the stage in front of you, remember me.


Applause.

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