Over the last few weeks, I've been working out a poem for a friend. He moved into his forty-first year on Sunday, and this piece was written to memorialize the occasion. We met yesterday at a local restaurant, and I slipped him the poem over Diet Coke and some queso that the waitress had set on fire. There's no more powerful combination than flaming cheese and poetry. I aim to do it more often.
Let’s come clean together, wash free tobacco ash, the souring spilt smell of the boozy night. Like children, let’s come clean, like children who bathed at the old mill’s river run, down by where the water wheel turns and turns, and turns, drowns any hope of different water. Let’s wake to a new baptism; the only water is where we are.
Free from the sooty skin, from the coal ash, the black-lung, the moon-crater eyes, free like the dead canary, the fluorescent spirit that flew the coop, we’ll become new.
We are in this one loosing of skin and time, this one explosive moment of breath, our eyes like lamps behind the black, our hands too, but only for this breath (if we learn to breathe at all).
Let’s go down to the riffles, slide under the water wheel and be baptized, rolled over again, and again, and again. Let’s drown dirt and death down by the gristmill wheel and find life rising like clean.