The grieving muscle; a challenge prose poem

I’m sailing well into the month of August’s poetry challenges. I’m doing two this month that requires a poem a day, plus another two or three on one challenge once a week. These end up being drafts of works I may or may not take up later but so far I’m keeping pace.

This weeks challenge over at Khara Houses’ blog, Our Lost Jungle, is to write a prose poem, that curious hybrid of poetry and prose. I’ve written many over the years, most in the form of letter poems. I have a provisional title for a book and a good portion of the “letters” written for them. I hope to make these the basis of my second book of poems after publishing my first next year.

Another related form of the prose poems, another of my personal favorites, is the postcard poem. I’m doing a challenge over at August Postcard Poetry Fest(ival) blog to write a postcard poem a day sponsored by Striped Water Poets and hosted this year by Brendan McBreen. The only requirement for a postcard poem is that it fit on a postcard. To date I’ve sent out 15 poems and received eight. That’s a pretty good average, according to Brendan.

Below is one prose poem I wrote for Khara’s challenge this week. The other, on a lighter topic I posted on Khara’s blog comments. As you will see, my prose poems are prosy, letter like. I imagine speaking to an intimate friend, once capable of following my tortured thoughts and feelings. I like this voice because it gives me a platform and some leeway to speculate on a variety of subjects and themes.

Finding the grief muscle

To die or not to die is not the question. The questions don’t matter since most are easily answered and the complicated ones we study to be entertained for a time and only after a hard time come to learn they were the wrong questions. Like the one about what it feels like to be dead, which cannot be known, since the evidence is scanty or suspect — being based on near-death accounts, which by definition are not death experiences, only approximates, mere near misses with death, not death itself. No, the only questions are to the living, those who clean blood from concrete or carpet, those who empty the clothes closets, those who must sort through favorite toys, those who must ponder death as they lay dying and survivors who carry the additional, seemingly intolerable burden, of months and sometimes years of grief  — an experience always soaked in the rain of their imagination which only prolongs the inevitable day of liberation, spending their days within an encapsulated heart, setting up shop in a back alley with the freeway roaring like hell overhead, dutifully producing. We grievers cannot miss the important practice of watching through a blur children play or couples at a fountain sharing themselves or the faint stars appearing in the opposite sky at sunset. These signs, these twilight stars are stars of life and death, true avengers, like a child saviors born in the midst of grief and death, small beginnings, lights given us to resurrect our experience of innocence, a new muscle capable of lifting us off the shore of our sorrow each day, so we may once again fly into song with the sweet dying people who remain.   


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