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I was stirred awake by a sound so familiar
A cry barely audible through closed doors
Gently I removed her head from its home
Nestled close upon my chest
As not to disturb an angel from her slumber,
The rest a mother so dearly deserves
I rose to my feet, a guardian to those I love
Feeling as I always have before, a need to protect them
With subtle steps I crept over to the room adjacent
Expecting to find only a child, teary eyed and alone
The cries were louder now, but the bed empty
A fear rose over me, for the boy’s only two
Franticly I searched through the closet and clutter
My heart beat quickly against my chest
I lifted the mattress, greeted at last by bright blue eyes
My hands wrapped around tiny wrists
Pulled him free from his hiding
Picked him up with relief like none I’d felt before
Held him tight in my tattooed arms
And he rested his head upon my shoulder
But the tears still they streamed
I could feel their cold trails
As they rolled down my bare back
I rocked him the way she had so many times before
Promised him everything would be alright
He clung fast to me, I could sense he’d found safety
And soon the tears ceased to flow
While his mother was sleeping I was proud of myself
Taking care of my family, everything just felt so right
As I basked in the moment and whispered to him
Suddenly, slowly, he lifted up his little head
Turned toward the door and then he said, “Mommy”
And surely enough through the crack she was there
Watching her man with her boy in his care
I could see in her eyes that she’d found all she’s wanted
In those few short minutes, in that little room
She had seen all the wonder that I had felt
If reality is far better than you can imagine
There’s no need for sleep when real dreams can happen
The night terrors have gotten worse now
And it’s been so long since I last slept
The thought of rest is starting to sound surreal

Yet every time my lids grow heavy
This nightmare becomes reality
My greatest fear becomes my fate

In dream after dream I am forced
To see myself die, each night in a new way
Over and over I witness the end of my life

This does not scare me for I fear not the reaper
But another detail never changes
It is what I see as I draw in my final breath

This mirage of my mind stands at my side
Though she’s always just out of reach
Her eyes telling the tale of heart break

This nameless woman bears my child
For my greatest fear is not my death
It’s leaving behind the family that I never met
Just ten minutes after I'd revved the engine
I was only nine miles away from the love of my life
Day dreaming of when we’d met just eight short months ago
Soaring at seventy down that country road
Only six more miles until she’d be in my arms again
Five years ago thoughts of love would have seemed so far out of sight
Yet four times I've already proposed, “too soon,” she’d always say
Amazing how in three seconds your entire life can change
With just two tires there’s little room for error
When one blew out I hit the asphalt, hard
In a wreck like that there’s zero chance I’d survive
One hour later the ambulance arrived at last
EMTs pressed two paddles against my chest
Shocks were delivered three times
At the hospital doctors performed four operations
Five months I spent in a coma
Followed by six months of physical therapy relearning to walk
In time all seventeen broken bones had set and healed
It cost me eight grand to buy a new bike
Now nine years later I’m still riding, fearless, wife on the back
The tenth time I asked, she finally said yes
In the broken kitchen chair he sits
Weeping the tears of a killer
Face buried into the palms of his grisly hands
He sobs uncontrollably for he knows what these hands have done
He cries as a child might having seen his parents murdered
Gasping and struggling to draw in a full breath
Snot running from his nose, curling over the stubble of his upper lip
With a clenched fist he wipes this away
Rage building in his veins, hatred, and remorse
His face grows red as he shakes uncontrollably with anger
Unsure of what to do with himself he rises quickly to his feet
His chair crashing back to the floor behind him
He paces the kitchen back and forth
Feet padding monotonously over checkered linoleum
Suddenly, abruptly, he stops, his gaze drifting to the counter top
As he catches sight of the skinless corpse he screams
A blood curdling scream that chills to the bone
Unable to bare the sight of his disembodied victim any longer
He barrels out of the kitchen
Crashing through doors, splinters of wood marking his trail
In the bathroom he now stands
Sulking in shame before a ***** mirror, staring down at his bare feet
Slowly, he raises his head, eyes squeezed shut
Fearing to find what he might see when he opens them
He pauses here for several moments, collecting his thoughts
Breathing deeply, hoarsely, sporadically huffing
Mustering all of his courage, he makes this final leap, opening his eyes
In the mirror before him he sees all too clearly himself
Wearing a skin that is not his own
Face, hands, feet, all that are exposed
His own pale skin standing out in bold contradiction
To the beautifully bronzed hollow man that he wears
His pale and bony knuckles crash repeatedly into the face of the mirror
Over and over again the thud and the crunch
Broken skin and shattered glass
Blood now smeared across what little reflective surface remains
At last he can see himself no more
Slumping down into a ball on the floor
He sits alone and rocks
The mere shell of a man remains
With dripping hands he tears away a patch of flesh from his thigh
Groping the floor blindly his hand closes over a shard of glass
He is now far too numb to feel pain, dead inside
Gripping tightly to the broken glass this broken man begins to write
Carving his apology into his thigh
Part #2; see "Permanent Press" for Part #1.
In the broken kitchen chair he sits
Running his filet knife across the grindstone
The blade mustn't be dull for what he’s about to do
Across the kitchen hangs his days catch
Dangling from one large meat hook
Dripping, warm, fresh, and glassy eyed
Running the blade across his thumb
A future scar in his one of a kind prints
With bulging biceps his prey is lifted from its loft
Tossed carelessly onto the granite counter top
A dangling arm falls into the kitchen sink
The subtle sound of a ring is heard
As it hits the stainless steel basin
This jewelry is soon removed and set aside
With a felt tipped pen he outlines his procedure
Like a world class surgeon preparing to operate
He makes each incision with great care
A soft touch and a steady hand
Experience shows this isn't his first rodeo
Every cut running long and shallow
He grins like a child as warm blood flows over his digits
Setting down the tools of his trade
He takes a moment to admire his handiwork
The body before him lies ravaged
Professionally massacred, filleted is his trophy ****
Having fully enjoyed this beautiful sight
He reaches down gripping tightly onto two ***** of skin
By either side of the shoulders his fingers burrow under flesh
He begins to peel away
Within minutes the body is bare
On the counter lies nothing but muscle and bones
Tendons, sinew, organs that will never again function
Like a cadaver to be donated for medical research
He holds the hollow man up to the light for a better look
A perfect skin suit, warm, tanned, tinged in red
Cuddling it as a toddler might carry his blankey for comfort
He walks to the room adjacent the kitchen
At the tug of a blood soaked hand
The washing machines door swings open
Gingerly he sets the skin inside
Adding just a dash of fabric softener for good measure
He shuts the door and starts the cycle
Back to the kitchen he drudges
Washing the blood from his hands, his arms
Cleaning his knife, polishing the blade until it gleams in the light
Leaving the corpse where it lies he sits patiently and waits
As the wash is finished he removes the suit from the machine
Now clean, dripping, wet, marker gone
He places it in the dryer
Turning the **** to low heat, careful not to shrink his new outfit
He sets the dial to permanent press and pushes start
Part #1; see "The Apology" for Part #2.
Under my skin,
Your words are digging in.
Ripping, tearing,
Pulling my flesh away.
Peeling back the skin
And settling in.
To a host of which
They are unwelcome.

Under my skin,
Your words are digging in.
Lying, defying,
Numbing the realities.
Peeling back the skin
And settling in.
Whispering nothings to which
There are no meanings.

Under my skin,
Your words are digging in.
Confusing, undoing,
Ignoring all truths.
Peeling back the skin
And settling in.
Crafting lies which
Are filled with sin.

Under my skin,
Your words are digging in.
Mending, fixing,
Stitching the wounds.
Peeling back the skin
And settling in.
Making a home in which
They shouldn't be existing.

Under my skin,
Your words are digging in.
Peeling back the skin
And settling in.
Say nothing but good of the dead
As they were once your friends,
Or enemies, it doesn't matter.
In death lies no dishonor.

Say nothing but good of the dead
As they were once fellow workers,
Or leaders, it doesn't matter.
In death lies no classes.

Say nothing but good of the dead
As they were once our slaves,
Or masters, it doesn't matter.
In death lies no races.

Say nothing but good of the dead
Because they were once living people,
People like you and me.
In death they are beloved.

De Mortuis Nil Nisi Bonum
De Mortuis Nil Nisi Bonum (Latin for "Say nothing but good of the dead.")
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