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lancaster county, familial birthplace, your thunderstorms lend me the peace of mind to continue. when i was younger, and wishing to be undone, i blamed myself for not loving god enough. i said i was rotten, and didnt know why. my eyes only knew how to glare because i was scared of smiling, or of not deserving to, or of letting go of that hurt, or of losing my identity if i did. im still scared of dying. that didnt change. and one day, after letting myself stop pretending to be godly, after letting myself love being rotten, just a little, you became a monument to learning the word hate. where would i be without your shame and your conditional love? i had no idea what passive aggression meant until you had a reason to teach me. you remind me how to glare, and how to be undeserving, and thats a kind of rotten too. you carry churches on your back like god is my fault, and sometimes i believe you. it is as if you have come from the past and youre upset the world is leaving you behind, and thats my fault too. you are not a kind county, a home, or gentle despite the rolling fields, neither a place for outsiders nor one to give up a warm body without a fight. you are as lonely as a postapocalyptic movie's deserts, and your cities beg to be left empty and standing and dirty just so theyd fit so perfectly at the end of the world. these cities are paved with bricks and paint and god. you arrive bearing washed out, low-contrast hues of green and undersaturated brown and every photo ive taken looks overexposed. i have marveled at your night sounds, at the tar lines clacking under the tires on the highway, and yet youve never been beautiful. the closest thing to beautiful is the full moon, orange with pollution, rising over the lakes dug out of the prairie and filled then with rocks and fish and water. youre the stadium that becomes a city every weekend, youre lincoln, or youre the storms in the night that put hail the size of my fist through the windows. you are a 754-block coping exercise. just as i let myself love being a christian's rotten shame, just a little, you are as oppressively godly as a rural town with 192 churches on a sunday. you are not made of tomorrows, or of opportunity, but you are definitely just green enough to think so. how frightening you are too, where i am scared of being gay but losing myself in the closet, and afraid of that too. oh, old cheney road, you are the apothecary's witness and a false sense of safety. it could only be the echinaceae, but laying in the ditch on the side of the road is halfway beautiful. without you i would have grown up more slowly, and learned to love myself a little quicker. with you i am nothing but homesick. this is why, lancaster county, you are made of towns of empty architecture and lonely streets, where only the animals and the crooked trees are content this is why you refuse to progress, why you cling to old, tired bigotry hastily rebranded as belief like an beloved, frayed blanket clutched protectively in a fussy toddler's hands. i have praised many things, but for me you are more unloveable than you told me i was. to my eyes, you are a thing waiting to die.
I don’t know this thing, this silver and brown thing. The machined handle, the chipped wood. The residues and musty vestiges of tobacco. The little metal embellishments. I trust this thing. I know it’s use, it’s purpose, it’s presence. What I wish to know, however, is whose lips held this thing. Whose lungs did it fill? May I touch these well-made things?
space, black tablecloth and spilled salt: your starfields shivering behind the pollution when i was young and babyfaced and wonderous your immensity terrified me but one day, after loving after losing: you became a comfort where would i be without your existential enormity and your nightfall curtain calls falling shut to unwrap black expanse? whose to conquer but mine? whose to conquer but those who know death, know it for what it is, who know it and have held it as a thing heavy and real and cold as a stone in their hands, who know it and still dare turn skyward for answers? a man does not pray anymore after that (death and space are inextricable, are twined together in the same rope that contains vibrant, endless life) i had no idea. you remind me of home, as freezing and boiling and toxic and friendly as any familial spat you do not scare me. you soar heron-like on a canvas black like absolute nothing, wings spread far from corner to star-littered corner of how far the light stretches (pitch between like ocean depths) (and perhaps we, too: more empty than full) you come from the end, and the beginning, and whatever lies between (a solace to mere mortality, a fly in the web of continuity) you are not a god made of anything we can comprehend (probability itself keels and chokes at your feet) you arrive bearing tomorrow on apollo's back (apollo, who has nothing earthly to fear seizes up when daring to comprehend the cosmos) i have marveled at everything you have deemed show me have humbled beneath eclipse and quasi-stellar radio source you are so much more than any earthly concept your celestial sunsong, the solar astrochemistry within supernovae dwarfing anything gaia could ever present, more damning, more redeeming than any hell rained down by what frail humans could accomplish by happenstance you are nothing if not forever just as polaris tilts and wobbles in our north, you are as steady and consistent as orbital fluctuation you are reliant on the sum of your parts but you are indefinite, our planet a little spinning top insignificant in its star-spun flight paths within the visible universe how massive you are, how humanly finite (viewfinding opal eyes: how weak and yet skyward we look icarus had to have something to shoot for) o, sunspots, you are too beautiful to look at for long (without risking blindness) and yet: pitch dark, overcast natural state of everything that has ever, will ever have existed with coincidental light (everything dies, eventually. everything dies.) with you flourishes life, death, space (components woven together in the same rope) this is why, starfield, you are unlikely gravity, why you refuse to pull taffy-linked orbital paths too thin i have praised many things, but you are more than any helios of short-sighted civilizations that within the sky found the sun the only thing to fear (and not the spaces between countless stars) wondering naked faces turned up like so many daffodils and those lives lost (those souls, heavy and cold) do you have my grandfather? (perhaps wrought-iron stairs spiraling into blue-black underbelly take longer than a week to climb.) my sister now joined the ranks of those that space belongs to the minute she boarded the plane that scooped her higher towards you, to your enormity, was she scared? tell me your eggshell atmospheric arms prepared her for the cold waiting for her when she landed life and death (old and new) twine ropelike (she wraps this cord around her hands tight enough to hurt) and small things in the grand scheme get lost, like a grandmother who no longer recognizes her children and sorts through collected photos alone trying desperately to tell flesh and blood from magazine clippings and you remain indifferent because these things don’t matter to forever i seize because my sister is young and mortal and your enormity must have terrified her but she has loved (and she has lost) she will have stared death in the deep, sallow eyes (she will have held death’s warm palm and called them friend) do not let go, so help me god. keep her feet pressed to this earth you, visible universe, vibrant opal eyes of neverending do not lead her astray as you have me. your expanse begs closer, begs knees to the pavement begs shuttered eyes to eclipse; teach her not to fear her sun in the sky (though helios himself is no friend) teach her to fear the spaces between.
for my midterm im heavily revising a poem (and ofc i picked the fucking 96-line one) and im supposed to do a few experiments with it and the first one i did was pretty sick i think? like it's just 'tack on 50 lines' but the stream-of-consciousness result was neat i guess i figured id share bc maybe yall would want to try it too lmao without further ado here's 146 lines of bullshit ode to the visible universe experiment.docx
space, black tablecloth (and spilled salt), your starfields shivering behind the light pollution when i was young your immensity terrified me but one day, after loving after losing: you became a comfort where would i be? without your existential enormity and your nightfalling curtain call unwrapping staticky expanse? whose to conquer but mine? whose to conquer but those who know death, know it for what it is, who know it and have held it as a thing heavy and real and cold as a stone in their hands, know it and still dare turn skyward for answers? a man does not pray anymore after that (death and space are inextricable, are twined together in the same rope that contains life and earth and sea) i had no idea. you remind me of home, as freezing and boiling and toxic and friendly as any familial spat you do not scare me. you soar on a canvas (pitch like ocean depths) black like nothing, because you are statistically more nothing than anything (and perhaps we, too: more empty space than things) it is as if you come from the end, and the beginning, and whatever lies between you are not a god, a titan, a deity neither made from man's feeble wishes nor of anything man can comprehend you are more roiling and alive than any sea’s waves than any beryl-vibrant canopies (probability itself keels and chokes at your feet) you arrive bearing tomorrow on apollo's back (apollo who has nothing earthly to fear seizes when daring to comprehend the cosmos) i have marveled at everything you have deemed show me, have humbled beneath eclipse and quasi-stellar radio source youre so much more than any earthly location the celestial sunsong, the solar astrochemistry within supernovae you are not a deity just as polaris, you are as steady as orbital fluctuation you are nothing without the sum of your parts but you are indefinitely infinite, our little spinning top insignificant in its star-spun flight paths within the visible universe how massive you are, how humanly finite (viewfinding opal eyes: how weak and yet icarus had to have something to shoot for) o, sunspots, you are the hydrogen and energy too beautiful to look at for long (without risking blindness) and yet: blindness, pitch dark, natural state of everything that has ever, will ever have existed without you we wither as one with flora, with fauna space hurled together a haphazard goldilocks (everything dies, eventually. everything dies.) with you with inconceivable odds flourishes life, death, space, earth, sea (components woven together in the same rope) this is why, starfield, you are unlikely gravity, dream-maker why you refuse to pull taffy-linked planets too thin why you burst nova like every celestial sunsong i have praised many things, but you are more than any helios of short-sighted civilizations that within the sky found the sun the only thing to fear (and not the spaces between countless stars) by my weak human eyes, you are the very end.