VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Andreas Fleps

Causeway

The path you were on

rolled up its tongue

like a faded red carpet

and swallowed itself. 

You opened your mouth

to speak of it and your 

voice fell out as silence,

like a baby bird from its

nest.

You felt hope pass away

inside you, but couldn’t find

the corpse.

Maybe the rumors are true:

how beyond the hope no 

longer there, another will hope

for you, or how a demon 

is just an angel that hasn’t 

been hugged yet.

Though you always knew

grief was a window beneath

your skin and it would shatter

open, the world rushing into you

like an intemperate gust of wind 

blowing your breath away.

You also knew there was 

no loss you could not house.

So you repaired your hands

and reset your eyes and realigned

your feet and reshaped your heart 

back into the shape of a kiss and

carried on.

You, who knew our breaking is 

malleable and bruises have sunrises

and wounds are wet clay, ready to

mold the dream inside hell’s

mind; where the air has not 

been screamed to ash and horizons

are not made of smoke and piece

by piece, you built a causeway

out of your body for the light

to cross.

the greener grass is fucked too

outside my grandparent’s condo in naples,

florida, a landscaper dressed in sweat 

is digging out the singed, exanimate grass

to be replaced by fresh sod,

but the sun will continue to cauterize its wounds

and clouds will forget to weep for weeks on end 

and dogs will continue to piss out of remembrance,

as the greener grass from some other side

will be stunned at how swiftly the world

can siphon the color out of a face;

how even a blade of grass can perish 

in an astonishing amount of ways;

how life isn’t faithful to anything for long.

to study the living

is to be an expert

at dying. 

Frozen

I am starving for numbness;

the butterflies in my stomach

are frostbitten. 

I freeze my thoughts in this 

white page like an explorer’s 

brain in a glacier

that knew it was fucked

when its vessel became

another piece of ice. 

And I might have to abandon

my tongue to survive,

my voice too heavy to carry

across miles of desolate possibilities,

and my veins are bursting pipes 

in a home shaped like loneliness;

in a home with hope like coughing

furnaces, trying to utter what’s 

no longer inside it.

My life is a fridge that preserves 

(nothing)ness,

and poems aren’t blankets, so a part

of me is always shivering like bee wings 

in frigid realities, 

desperate to save the hive

and some sweetness

and a god,

but my heart is as blue-lipped as the sky

I couldn’t kiss through walls of grey.

Yet a pen is frozen to my fingers,

and it keeps writing:

And then there was light,

And then there was light,

rubbing verbiage and syntax 

together, as if branches

over a dry pile of breath

could give birth to a spark

the sun would worship. 

I Didn’t Ask For This

Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay

To mould me man? Did I solicit thee

From darkness to promote me?

John Milton, Paradise Lost

I suppose in my mother’s womb,

my initial heartbeats must have been

a star opening its eyes—

Thump: This will burn. 

Thump: There’s so much darkness

to sort through.

A first breath: A door opening,

all of life bursting in at once. 

Birth: the participation trophy

in atrophy—

Are we born to share in the loss?

To hug what’s only ever being 

let go?

To stitch unseen colors into 

each other’s iris’?

To fill each other’s skies

with clearer horizons?

I wish I knew. I wish I didn’t have

to make wishes, so of course, I wish

I hadn’t been born; of course, my mother

has told me with tears becoming her lips

how love is what pulled me out of her body

towards the only light there is, both swelling

and retracting, full and incomplete like

hunger.

I’ve always had the desire to wave, 

though I never knew if it was hello

or goodbye, snagged in the middle

of eternity. 

Thankfully, I’ll remember my death

as much as I remember my unasked for 

arrival.

And I suppose the quiet will hold my 

fresh corpse like my mother first

held me; maybe kiss my head away

along with the whisper that isn’t there:

Hello, it’s been so loud for so long,

hasn’t it?

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