*This is from a recent poetry workshop; though poetry isn’t normally my forte, I had a lot of fun with it!
The structure’s built of sturdy stock,
of the hearts harvested from Wormwood
still blood-slick and raw with splinters.
From down here the spaces between rungs
looks daunting, insurmountable;
even if you stood on the spines of lesser men
you couldn’t ever reach up and find purchase
in your sweet ticket upward.
So you stick to ground-level,
chase your neon signs touting payday loans
and merciful angels of bankruptcy
and multilevel marketing schemes—anything,
anything that will pull you from the mud like a great heron,
anything that will release you from the alleyway grit
and tenement housing grime.
Anything that will allow you the candied fantasy,
the scratch-off tickets and heroin, the reality TV and
our father who art in Heaven.
Anything that will let you dream in Technicolor,
in pastel suburbia,
and pretty, pricey things in glossy editorials—
things you need or else you will die alone and out-of-fashion,
and no one will labor to touch you again,
and no one will understand the meaning of your name
without your top-shelf name-brand heraldry to define it.
To the gods of commerce you pray for
tax-return miracles and
for your bank account balance to pull a Lazarus,
resurrect itself from the red back into the green.
To the Christ who transformed one meal into plenty,
you ask how come he can’t offer classes on
how to rub two coins together
until those coins breed.
To the nation built on dreams,
you ask why waking is so rough.
But you have to wake up sometime,
go work that minimum wage
go pay those bills
go buy those necessary things
go build that ladder and build it strong.
And when you’re done, set its legs on your shoulders,
hold it up, hold it steady.
Staring up from the bottom
The whole thing looks like train-tracks
pushing towards a vanishing point,
some unknowable dot at the belt of the horizon.
Which is where they dance and laugh and sup,
the ones who fabricated a beautiful world for you
and tricked you into becoming Atlas.