Tag Archives: awake

A Reckoning

“You Will Never Get Death / Out of Your System”
by Dana Levin

How old is the earth? I asked my machine, and it said: Five great extinctions, one in process, four and a half billion years.

It has always been very busy on Earth: so much coming and going! The terror and the hope ribboning through that.

Death, like a stray dog you kick out of the yard who keeps coming back—its scent of freedom and ruin—

         Some people love death so much they want to give it to everyone.

         Some are more selective.

         Some people don’t know they’re alive.


Metabolic system, financial system, political system, eco-system—systems management, running around trying to put out fires—

Sodium nitrate. Sodium benzoate. Butylated Hydroxyanisole (to keep the food from rotting). Plastic (surgery). Botox, Viagra, cryo-chamber—

Voting backwards, into what
has already died—

Voting Zombie in the name of “change”—

And everywhere in fortune cookies, the oracular feint of a joke future—

where death is the trick candle on the victory cake.


Some truths are hard to accept. Especially when they won’t budge beyond a couplet.

Especially when they won’t tell you if they mean you well, if they herald freedom or ruin—

You! You and Death! Lovers who just can’t quit. That’s how we make the future.

The terror and the hope of that, as change goes viral.



Saturday wakes to the scent
of burnt toast wafting through
rattling Venetian-blind palms as
the gonging mission bell cuts
my sleep-hazed mind and
I cross Mercy Street watching

blacktop roses bowing to the
gentle breeze, walk with
lopsided longing toward the kazoo

hum of the Farmer’s Market,
where a blind troubadour sporting
tattoos on her arms courts

seekers and idlers with her
church-bell voice, a
farmer hawks Yukon golds

as if they were treasure.
Beyond these nuggets, past
the fruit waiting patiently as

people nibble nuts, savor honey,
bargain with vendors, the spicy
orange day beckons to me.

–Kathryn Harper