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"The Song of the Hawkmoth"



I share this cell with my mortality.
It keeps me up at night, pacing back and forth,
sometimes pausing at the wall
and muttering to ghosts and gods, listening,
then crying out to silence.
He is no part of me these days and nights:
He is a separate creature dying.
But once when time was less surrounded,
when life was sweet and death was not impartial,
we were young and strong; and when I paced
it was not inside these walls
but between the coasts of continents,
the golden shores of seas.
When I bled, it was not from cuts of lunacy
but from wounds of softer sorrow,
and only when I slept I dreamed.
I've lived between the chords of songs of trains
and ships and cities seen from desert vantage points.
I loved the night, the moon and solitude,
and could recite the poetry of angels,
could dance with joy my carefree hobo jigs
at sleeping junctions,
could run and leap without fear of flying off
or going crazy.
I'm crazy now, it seems.
I've grown a little mad.
No one knows me here, I could be anyone,
strange to all, a bearded face with empty eyes,
gazing through the bars, through tunnels thick with haze,
looking for a face that might look back with recognition.
But that is not to say I am unknown:
my head is full of photographs and maps,
verses, green and azure afternoons.
I have a past and places in my mind
where I'm still seen and spoken to:
a fair-haired boy running with the wind,
shooed and scolded, chased and chided,
called easily by name.
There are places there where lovers lay,
stretched out, smiling, beckoning with soft, unfocused eyes;
and other places, empty rooms that mock my wanderlust
with ancient beds and yellowed mirrors,
static cowboy choruses
seeping through the walls and in my ears.
There are towns and cities, roads and freeways,
alleys dark and bridges long
and halos circling the moon.
There are acts of innocence, acts of shame,
acts of charity and hunger, nights that I have lain
against the earth, trembling and wide-eyed,
like a dying moth pinned to a board,
looking for the merry eyes of God
but seeing only sky.
In these places are these footsteps made a thousand times,
my name is spoken and no one dies.
So damn mortality and all its noise,
and damn this cage. I am immortal.
I have not reached and never will
the end of all I know.
I have only grown a little mad with waiting.
I have only grown a little old.



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