Survival

All posts tagged Survival

Headlines

Published May 13, 2014 by rlmcdermott

How did
this happen;
dead beneath
the headlines–
blue metal,
blue bird,
blue child?

Imagine
the moment,
the sharp
slap of air,
the ferocious
snap of wing,
and then
the still
and certain fall.

And you,
the child,
all breakable
bone; your
arm twisted
until it spiraled
out of its socket,
and like the
bird fell
down.

On a cold Sunday,
inside a newspaper,
beside a metal dumpster
two things dead–
a bird and a child.Child

Borrowed Time

Published September 10, 2013 by rlmcdermott

this is the
moment that
has been
hunting you

you are left
with only
a pen and
a blank book
to rewrite
your life

remember
the day that
you took two
hundred pills
and laid down to die

where’s the difference
between a soldier with a gun
and you with a vial of pills
you both alter flight

you hear your future
a dangerous cat
padding down the
corridors of it’s
accidental habitat

the rattle of pills
still in your brain
their coated surfaces
dissolving as memory
spills into your periphery

yet you go on
a predator of your
own life sleeping
in the shade of forgiving
trees until sunset when
the wild bird sings and
moonlight enters your dreamsBorrowed Time

The Opera Singer

Published June 11, 2013 by rlmcdermott

She sang
in the bathroom–
high notes,
clear,
chaste,
contralateral.

A songbird puffing
cigarettes between breaths,

all was illegal about those years–
the teased hair,
the shaved eyebrows,
the rolled-up skirt.

Violetta everywhere,
father dying
on a red-velvet couch.

Where were the old dreams,
the dreams her parents had for her;
there was a truth to them
that she ignored–

the bottle-shaped dreams
of an alcoholic father,

the woman in the kitchen
silent for forty years
now heard for the first time,

a half-forgotten song,
snatches of melody,
lingering in her memory.

They gave her a watch
so she could know time was running out.
She listened to the ticking; rhythmic
like a song, like a poem,
an alliteration of small explosions
striking the final destination.

The days of summer and sadness,
the little girl heart beating badly,
the pills stolen from a dying father,
the butcher knife hidden in a rotting mattress,
the poems packed in a yellow suitcase–
songs saved for another day.The Opera Singer

The Ghost of Gangrene

Published May 23, 2013 by rlmcdermott

it moves from left to right
and calls your name

it preys and prays
and calls you to its side
to dress you dead

the sweet deliverance
of pills that know your name

the sound of your own voice
the hidden mystery of it all
to watch death is to die

codeine has the properties of gangrene

your nerves dance like hobbled ballerinas
on toes that look like blackened twigs

your spring has been a bitter season
grown sweet before its final blossoming
roots dipped in the alkali of too much love
andante-sweet dementia-praecox
is simply another word for prayer

this is the epic of your life
to die without birth
a requiem of pain
unannounced and unashamedFlower

Mourning

Published May 1, 2013 by rlmcdermott

you make dinner
you wash the dishes
you set the clock
you lock the door
you go to bed

this is all about being alive
the small gestures
the unconscious acts
the slow forgetting

someone you love has died

when will love return
do you miss it more
than you miss him

even the birds are
silent in this mourning

you listen for their song

suddenly the sunFlowers

Hecuba’s Advice To Helen

Published April 10, 2013 by rlmcdermott

As he changed; I changed–
our bodies flattening out
like images on a coin
rubbed thin by a God’s thumb;

That old man, who
once was young,
now seen only as himself–
stooped and graying.

My Priam,
father of two sons,
one faithful,
one foolish,
both Princes of Troy;
soldiers and heroes
all a wife has to give
to a husband
and all a mother
has to give to her
husband’s people–
such are the wages of marriage
and the price of war.

Listen Helen,
if you bear children
pray that they are girls,
not that they should
be exempt from battle,
for women also die in war;
but that they be exempt
from love and give themselves
instead to the gods,
a temple life,
where the marriage bed is unknown
and sons are things that other women bear–
stillborn warriors marching toward
embattled cities as if they were immortal
and made of steelier things than flesh.

Husbands and sons these are a woman’s lot
and, so, it is a joy to grow old
to turn away from the seductions
of a life spent with men.

Yes, an aging husband
in these hard days
is a glorious thing.
Value Paris and hope he lives
beyond the onslaught of this day
and angry Menelaus sitting
cross-legged outside of Troy’s gate. Portrait

DEROS

Published December 14, 2012 by rlmcdermott

He came
air evac’d
from Camp
Red Cloud;
a thirty mile
flight seizing
all the way.

They stopped
the seizures
but could not
stop the blood–
we worked
sixteen-hour
shifts for a week

His mother came
three days before
he died. She
held his hand
and asked him
if he couldn’t stay
a few more days.

He died on my day off
when the dragon flies
low to the ground
and the ginkgo is full of fruit.