Submit your work, meet writers and drop the ads. Become a member
Jan 2023
“catharsis, the purification or purgation of the emotions (especially pity and fear) primarily through art. In criticism.  It is a metaphor used by Aristotle in the Poetics to describe the effects of true tragedy on the spectator.”


composed many, months & many, many years ago, and hazily recalled, written in a moment of purification and purgation, petrified by aging and it’s companion, self-pity from fear of approaching death, sought purity by its very composition, when someone just recently poked my eyes with the word c a t h a r s i s, and this old poem resurfaced…no, no, it’s not my birthday anymore…


yesterday was my birthday.
you need two hands, two feet,
a multiplication table
to count my years,
each finger, worth a decade.
each toe, perhaps, a century.


a point of inflection,
a point of opportunity,
a present presents itself,
to rewrite history.

a second coat of paint,
gift-wrapped in weak excuses.
of how I lied, of how I ain't,
grimm-fated fairy tales
somebody created.

invisible suits of gold-cloth
worn to my party of
past rewritten and
future foretold.

one single thought,
a memory,
seizes my heart,
as I fall to my knees.
cracks my temperate ease,
renders open the
woof and weave
of recycled deceptions,
causing all to be revealed
and asking myself

what if the poetry ceases?

you know prostrate?
you have tasted grief?

have you not but
a singular pain,
one act,
one deed,
one memorization,
act of cowardice,
act of desertion,
mistake maden, taken,
for which
can never
be given,
be faked,

do, does, did.
did; does; do.

let me then this day,
win the birthday lottery,
let floods of relief from
daily chores drown me,
chauffeurs to drive,
masseurs to massage,
cooks to cook,
les délicieuses friandises to sweeten life,
please keep theologians, logicians,
philosophers on retainer,
even historians, those future fortune tellers,
if needed, for explanations -
or just satisfactory rationalizations.

none know,
or can provide,
still and yet,
a year round
priestly sacred chord,
to grant relief,
songs of hallelujah,
erasers of the ache of
perpetuity worry.

those ancient pains,
grow fresh daily,
the loss of one element
of my body,
prevents my primal knot
unreasonably to be untied,
everything should be permitted
on my birthday, no?

this day, these days
breathe through words,
molecules of vowels,
stem cells of consonants,
the fabric, the tissues of life,
veins are a dictionary
of corpuscles,
red blood cells are
mounds and nouns of nutrients.

this day, these days,
the infection of my soul
is tempered, kept at bay,
tamped down from the
full flowering
of white blood cells
of rhyme, verse,
and asking myself

what if the poetry ceases?

though the bones creak,
snap, crackle and pop,
the body they carry,
resurrected this day in white
for morning, afternoon
and evening prayers,
and the last one special,
spoken standing.

thrice daily poetry I recite,
roses red, violets blue,
my marrow transfused.

though my prayers likely refused,
the poetry act immolates
the fringes of my disease,
for which the common cure
is not currently invented....
so I ask myself

what if the poetry ceases?

be assured, I am told
scientists hard at work,
on the forgive n' forget drug.

take a bubble bath in
rosemary and mint,
trap and tap some words,
into your cell phone bone,
the poetry heat, scented waters,
provide aspirin relief.

through this poem,
on one day annual,
I am relieved, relived,
the muses, the Devils
all herein, feted, and sated

gone for few moments
concerns, worries of
exposure today,
the agnostic's foxhole of hell
is dis-remembered,
the gloss returns,
the faux dispatched,

ain't birthdays grand?

yet, I cannot help but ask

what if the poetry ceases?

what rhymes with


could it be

bath drains,
rosemary and mint odors dismissed,
the Argentine disparu,
the Spanish Medievalists,
the Neo-Raphaelites,
all dispatched,
didn't they have birthdays too?
didn't you know
the Renaissance has come
and gone,
but nobody tole ya?

t'is the day
my sweet city recorded my
naissance in the
Hospital of the Flowers
on the fifth Avenue.

the 'crats put the datum
in the bureau with the
night creams and
the statistics
as follows:

on this day + a few,
six or seven or decades ago,
perhaps even fourscore,
a few centuries,
a question was born,
and an ache that is
sometimes relieved,
by a poem~song.

though do not celebrate,
t'is a day to calibrate,
review, edit, tinker,
rewrite, often a stinker.

always one thought recycles:

what if the poetry ceases, how will I breathe*?
Nat Lipstadt
Written by
Nat Lipstadt  M/nyc
       Eloisa, irinia, Stephen E Yocum, vb and old poet MK
Please log in to view and add comments on poems