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Ira Desmond Dec 2018
There should be
a time for

each of us
to mourn, individually,

the world that
we thought we would

be living in by now,
whatever world it was.

I, for one,
will mourn

the children
I thought I would have

someday.
I will mourn

the version of myself
that is not

crippled with debt
for having decided to get

an education. I will mourn
the version of my wife

that was not destroyed
by mental illness

with ruthless and shocking efficiency
right after

we got married.
I will mourn

those brilliant flocks of
butterflies, those mid-July swarms

of honeybees that
I thought would not

have perished
quite so quickly.

I will mourn
the summers I thought I would spend

swimming in
clear, living streams,

not having to wear
a mask to unchoke myself

from the omnipresent wildfire
smoke. But I will mourn

civility and morality
above all else, I think.

I will mourn those
difficult discourses

that I thought we
would be capable

of having, that feeling
that we, as a collective,

would be able
to overcome

whatever problem presented
itself. I will mourn

that world that
I thought I would

be living in by now,
whatever world it might have been.

And then, I will take
a deep breath, and

I will accept
things as they truly are.

I will
allow that tsunami of reality

to wash over me,
and to sweep

me up within its
endless tonnage of

of mortal peril and
human catastrophe.

And then I will continue living.
Ira Desmond Dec 2018
Last night,
I dreamt that the friend of a friend had died.

His body floated lifeless on the surface of the Pacific,
tossed about between the Bering Sea whitecaps

like an orca’s seal-pup plaything
while the Arctic wind whipped

and beat the freezing cold water
across his pallid face and through his chestnut hair.

Then his body
began to sink,

its silhouette appearing
against various monotone

canvases of blue
on its trip downward:

a vivid cornflower,
a pelagic cerulean,

a chasm of cold cobalt,
a starless twilight,

a forest of indigo,
a velvet curtain of navy.

Finally,
as it reached the deepest possible shade of midnight—

only a quantum away from black—
it stopped sinking.

There, in that void,
where daylight and color are considered but outlandish theories,

strange fish of all and shapes and sizes
began to surround the decomposing corpse:

Greenland sharks hailing from the frozen arctic,
mantis shrimp from the mangrove labyrinths,

eyeless electric eels from undersea caves near the Galápagos,
vampire squid rising cautiously up out of their World War One trenches,

scores of spindly ***** and pale worms that had ventured far beyond
the safe familiarity of their alien geothermal worlds.

At first, they approached the corpse gingerly,
nibbling only the tips of its hair and fingernails,

and then suddenly, voraciously,
they consumed it—until not even a skeleton remained.

Now, only a single point of light was left
there floating in the void.

And from this single point of light,
where just a moment before the corpse had floated,

a brilliant white lattice structure emerged,
unfurling as would a fern across a forest floor.

It fanned out onto the seabed
and then swept upward, upward

back toward those reaches of sea
where color is known

and fresh air gleefully permeates
that foamy outer membrane that skirts the base of the sky.

Scores of familiar fish began to lift up the crystalline structure—
schools of shimmering sardines,

stately, dignified manta rays,
skipjacks, bluefins, and white-tips,

brilliant cuttlefish, humble pufferfish,
shifty barracuda, gargantuan whale sharks,

all of them
beating their tails in concert

to carry this lattice away,
this measure of a life,

this husk of a soul
at last freed from its earthly bindings.

The fish were carrying it somewhere deeper,
somewhere darker,

to a place that I understood—
even from the inky depths

of my dreaming mind—
that I could not enter.

But then again,
I knew that someday

I would.
Ira Desmond Nov 2018
The downward momentum is clear to me now.
The engine has built up a full head of steam.
I’d try to stop it, if I knew how.

The fires of industry must burn on somehow;
they tend to burn brightest when fuel is extreme.
The downward momentum is clear to me now.

When currents are surging, we shouldn’t allow
the jingoist fringe to swim in the mainstream.
I’d try to stop them, if I knew how.

Civility means more than I can avow,
but poems can only allude to a theme:
The downward momentum is clear to me now.

Each click of a mouse that shouts holier than thou
is a cog in a treacherous clockmaker’s scheme.
I’d try to stop him, if I knew how.

We worshipped the circuit and forsook the plow
in search of a false technological dream.
Our downward momentum is clear to me now.
I’d try to stop us, if I knew how.
Ira Desmond Aug 2018
Being able to wield
the lexicon
of morality

is not the same
as being
a moral person.
Ira Desmond Jul 2018
I do not think
my mind will hold

out much longer.
I forget basic

details of conversations. I
walk into the kitchen

and forget my reason
for having walked

into the kitchen. I can
discern now when

people are being
polite by not

mentioning the fact that
it is the third

or fourth time I've
told that story again.

I am thirty-four
years of age.

Thirty-four
years of age. Thirty-

four years
of age.

I love baseball perhaps
now more than

ever before. It
requires no

memory, no cohesive
narrative, each

moment when the
pitcher releases the

ball its own
microcosm—

its own tick
in an atemporal clockwork

flush with gears but
lacking cogs entirely,

a moment savored
and then quickly

forgotten, like
the taste of a

perfectly ripe summer
strawberry, smothered

by the sweltering haze
of a mid-July afternoon.
Ira Desmond Mar 2018
A trumpet muted—
an indigo umbrella
of the spring storms' hail.
Ira Desmond Feb 2018
Do you think
that as you
die, the final

sensation that you
have will be
a feeling of

deep satisfaction at
having fastidiously maintained
an inbox with

zero unread messages?
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