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atlast Dec 2018
Stubborn rays --
the sunlight stays
on the bridge of your nose,
and the apples of your cheeks.
I could count them for days
but I’d rather stay, in the morning, lay
beside you and look up at them
like they’re constellations.
atlast Dec 2018

Started as a baby who watched killing on TV.
Whose childhood was Uncle Sam and the ROTC.

Took turns being cowboy and Indian, finger guns
Hunting with dad, rifles and handguns
But nothing could prepare him for the way that blood runs
From the lips of a friend

He left at 18
Couldn’t seem to grow a beard.
Didn’t matter when he was covered in jungle mud from ear to ear.

Kool Aid and biscuits
It sounded like a dream
Living indoors.
Working on machines.

But what the cargo brought back
Demanded to be seen

Bags upon bags hoisted on backs
Swung around like jump ropes
Among the soldier’s jumping jacks

Every beating moment a guilt-filled flashback

The blood from the lips of an enemy or friend
Reddening the mud, trickled to no end
A gun on his side
Who was fighting who?
The roles were unclear
Muddied and hazy, orange and dark blue

No need for TV. The war’s in his mind.
Engraved in his eyelids.
Pace, panic, grind

Is he a man? Can he ever grow old?
If his life is just one story that keeps getting told



- Vietnam
atlast Dec 2018
How can I love mine
The curves, the lines,
The rolls, the wrinkles,

When she and her and them
Can never love theirs?
atlast Dec 2018
fill your pockets with warmth
and take a deep breath of air

I’ll be waiting with my nose pressed ‘gainst the window
trying to feel all I can through the thick glass.
Wiping the smudges with my frayed, worn sleeve
And thinking myself outside

When you come home, I’ll open the lock from the inside
and jump up and down, up and down

Embracing you to feel the sunshine
And feeling wind as you kiss my cheek.

- outside
atlast Dec 2018
I wish I could say your words bounced right off
My back as I walked past

That the fear and humiliation
Barely even lasts

I wish I could say I wasn’t fazed at all.

And that my own pride made me tall

But alas, I was small

When you whistled, I froze.
When you threatened to grab me,
My heart raced

My stride did not deepen
My steps were fast-paced

I pulled my jacket across my chest
Ducked into a store and hoped for the best

And when I got home I could not rest.

Because your words did not bounce back
They sunk into my skin
They filled my ears and blurred my sight
And made my whole world spin

I didn’t say anything.
But not because I felt strong.

I didn’t say anything
Because I was scared of you being strong

Grabbing me like you said.
Becoming Hurt, Traumatized, Dead.

And I may not have bruises but I feel it in my head
A lingering sense of dread
Keeping me awake in bed

I feel it when I dress in the morning
And am careful about what I wear
Where I go
Wearing me down slowly

Your words are not the first.
But they hit me the worst.

I could feel your eyes ******* me
As you leaned against the wall
Sexualizing a little girl
Who was barely 5 feet tall

Your words mean nothing to them
and everything to me.
atlast Jan 2018
Giggles. Does this count?
Slide, mix, arrange each neatly
Double-letter word.
  Jan 2018 atlast
Frank DeRose
I saw god today.
Sitting in the alleyway,
Head hung low on the subway.

I saw him wordlessly crying,
As all the world went flying,
Dying by.

I saw him homeless and asking for change on 54th
I saw the streetlight illuminate his graying, ragged beard.

I heard his name yelled--
Out of fear.

I didn't see God
In the white picket fences,
In the pristine churches with cushioned benches.

I didn't see Him
At fish fries,
Or in ostentatious Osteen's obnoxious cries.

I saw god kneeling on the splintered pews;
I saw him fleeing with the Jews.

I saw him in the south,
With the poor,
Lying naked on the floor.

I saw god and didn't recognize him.

For he was kind
And accepting,
With eyes that saw,
But were blind.

I saw him wash the feet of sinners.
I saw him cry and pray at dinner.

I saw god today,
And we talked,
Embarking on a casual foray--

he asked me to tell him my misgivings,
And my doubts about faithful living.

I did.

"god, there is so much hypocrisy in this world,
And often, in your name it's unfurled.

You weigh down the oppressed,
And lift up the oppressor.

Christians shame their daughters for abortion,
They cry murderer and throw your words at her.
They do not help.
They do not heal.

Christians turn away those who would seek refuge.
They forget that you were Prince of an exiled people.

I am told that if I do not accept you,
I will go to Hell,
And you know this to be true.

Or worse,
A better man than me might go to Hell.
Because he calls you Allah,
Or Buddha,
And no matter the good he might do;

Still he is doomed."

god heard me,
And his tears fell--

he paused a moment,
And then responded,

"My child,
Can you not see?
Here I am before you,
And look how my 'disciples' turn away from me."

he said that word with bitterness and disdain,
I'd like to note.
It dripped off his tongue,
Even as blood fell from his wrists, legs, and side.

he carried on:

"Look how many are afraid of me,
How many reject me--
Because they don't want to see.

Look how many seek their own gain.
See how many look away from my pain.

Still, on Sunday
They'll come out and sing--
Cacophonous droning,
Wailing and moaning.

They do not worship me.

You see me here before you.
I am not their God.

Their God is one of self-advocacy,
Of Selfishness--
Of sublime, self-serving servitude.

I am Selflessness.
I am Poverty.
I am Outcast.
I am Brokenness.

I know your concerns.
I know you spend long nights questioning your faith.
Questioning others' faith.

Blesséd are you,
My son.

Blesséd are all my children,
Who seek to serve those who do not know my name.
They are my children still;
And still others of my followers have strayed farther for fame.
Blesséd are they, too,
That they might know me--
And you.

You come here and speak your truth,
And I thank you."

god stood up,
Humbly bowed his head,
Ever subservient,
And walked away.

I sat in silence,
Contemplating our verbal parlance.

Then I too stood up,
Walked away.

I saw him sitting outside,
In his hands,
An empty styrofoam cup.

I saw god today.

And as I walked away,
I saw one man stop, give him a couple quarters, and a nervous, friendly smile.

I saw another walk past, dressed in her Sunday best, averting her gaze, using her body to block her child's line of sight.

I saw god today.

Did you?
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