THIS IS NOT AN ACT
This is not some circus sideshow
or freak show, or geek show
where animals lose their heads to the
tearing teeth of the man on stage
Though, there are things you must do
to survive out here.
Out here, yes, out here
among the tombs is where I call my home
A home without a roof over my head
and a grave without a name
I guess it’s because I cannot rest yet
My head swarming with a thousand voices
banging up against the walls of my skull
my head is splitting
my skin is splitting
the rocks are sharp enough to draw blood
from my veins, still pumping
entertaining the thought to die.
I WANT TO DIE
but there was something holding me
to this place I could not understand its logic
I am not worth it.
I have no name.
No function, no place, no hearth, no home
So, I sing my songs to the tombs and the mountains.
Atonal screams that echoed off their stone surfaces
who played it back for me
until my throat was raw and the rock grew tired
of that same, old song.
The monsters you feared
Living under your bed
Had taken up residence
Inside my mind
Behind my eyes
And just above my soul
I was broken
And seeking the long lost
Yearning I had to be whole again
DID YOU EVER GO LOOKING FOR THE LIVING
AMONGST THE DEAD?
My guttural appeals
more than once brought the authorities
they tried locking me up
but their bars wouldn’t hold me
THEY CHAINED ME DOWN
but I think I sent them a message
when I snapped the links and ran again
to seek my refuge with the graves
and the stones
MY CHAINS ARE GONE
I’VE BEEN SET FREE
But I was not free
as the broken iron manacles
revealed broken human skin
and the iron red running down my arms
spoke to me in silent tongues
that I was not free of what held me here
what brought me here
Who took my identity.
Killed who I was and
chased who I was meant to be
and all those who meant something to me
into the Ten Cities
a place I sometimes see in the briefest of my dreams
in the eye of the storm
of the tempest of my mind.
Just like… the one I saw
brewing on the Sea of Galilee
They rise so quickly,
And this one fell just as quickly
as a boat pulled up to the shore
and emptied of its crew
A crew of fisherman.
I glanced them all over,
they were just men like
I’d seen a million times come off
the lake, a little soaked from their expedition
but when I fixed my eyes
on the one that led them
all time seemed to stop
DID YOU EVER LOOK FOR THE LIVING AMONGST THE DEAD
And in my head began the marching
of 2,000 feet laced with armor
and wielding swords
A cacophony like that was not meant to
be contained in one man’s skull
I ripped at my hair and tore at my skin
ripping out old scabs, newer scars, and new exits
for the blood to escape my veins again
My vision blurred from tears
the light from the sun was magnified a million times
and I dropped to the ground like
a fish out of water on the deck of a boat.
I somehow heard the faint sounds of footsteps on the rock
No, no, NO
WE ARE NOT TO BE BOTHERED HERE
Raising from the dust I saw a rather average Jew
backed by a small band of average jews.
And for a moment my vision was clear again
Until something struck me down to the dirt
and it all started again…
WHAT DO YOU WANT WITH ME… JESUS, SON OF THE MOST HIGH GOD?!
Everything inside me stopped.
The voices stopped
The marching stopped
Long enough for me to gather my senses
and realize those words just came from my lips
Who is this man
that he scares even the voices inside me?
“GET OUT, UNCLEAN SPIRIT.”
His voice was authoritative but no more than
what I had heard from the guards that chained me
But at the sound of those words
everything within me heaved
forward and backward like the violent sea
Turbulent and seismic, I shook like a seizure.
But my fingers dug into the dirt
and held fast.
The man, this Jesus was it?
“WHAT IS YOUR NAME?” he demanded.
My body heaved again
only this time did my vocal chords
register a sound in response
My internal puppeteer spun the strings
in the particular fashion so I looked him
dead in the eye and said,
“LEGION. FOR WE ARE MANY. WE BEG YOU DO NOT SEND US FROM THIS COUNTRY.”
The atmosphere became like a showdown
they were squaring off
and the real estate that was my body
as sad a state it was in, was
But I could sense the fear and desperation
in my body like something was about to go off
and there was nothing I could do.
Nothing… I could… do…
SEND US TO THE PIGS! LET US ENTER THEM!
All I saw was the man, Jesus, nod and wave his hand.
And in that moment it was as if I was facing off
against a mighty headwind and it tore right through me
like a blade through thin paper
like rock into skin
Like the storm I watched stir up on the lake
was now engulfing me
and just as quickly as it rose
it fell again.
Did you ever look for the living among the dead?
I had to assemble some things from the stories
the people were telling around us.
The pigs I heard about belonged to a nearby farmer
but all I saw was an empty pen
and an upset farmer
And then I saw the pigs floating in the lake
I did the math.
I sat next to Jesus as all this was sorted out
and I guess it was decided his trip to the Decapolis
would be cut short as he was asked
by the locals to kick rocks.
And so he did.
But before departing he imparted
this request to me
asking me to go to the city and tell everyone
what God had done.
I could only nod, the shock not quite worn off
I looked down at my arms and could see
my many cuts and scars
But I had a function and place
And though my presence
Brought terror and anguish
My cries in the night
Sent children scurrying
To their parents
But I had been given a place
Seated next to that Jew
I had been given a function
A story to be told
Over and over again, ad infinitum
And I had been given a name
In contrary to my scars
which had not disappeared
And never would
My name was spelled out
Across my whole body
“You are my beloved.”
And I did as he said. I told this very story
to everyone I knew.
I was the Intensity in Ten Cities
Some were shocked, some were appalled,
some wouldn’t open the door to me
remembering my time spent
among the tombs
some still spent on trying to help me through that
and giving up.
But I’d say,
“I’ll show you mine
if you show me yours first.
Let’s compare scars
I’ll tell you whose is worse.
Did you ever look for the living among the dead?
Did you ever look for the dead among the living?