Earth-Bound

This one was originally written on 3.11.16 for a seminar titled: "The Poetry and Politics of Decolonization". It is (very) loosely based on Aime Césair's Notebook of a return to the Native Land. It has been significantly edited and reformatted since then.

Earth-Bound

I see my life flash before my eyes, but not in the way that happens before you die but in the way that happens when you realize you’ll never go to the moon
Here, the student, earth-bound
Here, the young professional, earth-bound
Here the husband
Here the father
Here the mentor
Here the “sage”
the “sage” who’s never been to the moon
Who tells stories of the earth and the earth he’s lived but never once spins a yarn of outer-space         because he can’t
Who can’t answer questions about the stars because he’s never seen their flares without a                     telescope
Who nods his gray head and bounces a knee that’s grown perfectly in earth’s gravity never
        been warped by the lack thereof
never bloodied on moon rocks
never bent on lunar sand
And they all know it, the professors, the colleagues, the wife, the daughters, the pupils
the future, his legacy
will all ignore his stories
will all nod their heads without even the desire to remember any of his mud-caked earth-bound             life

I can see it all
The blisters on shoulders sloped from burden
and the calluses that form quickly after
I can see the tears on my face, year after year,
and the wall soon built between head and heart, the men laying square stone and their bare                   burnt backs, breaking and breaking under their burden under my burden under nothing
I can see failure
I can see disappointment
I can see tolerance
I can see complacency
How does this happen?
Every time
every generation
in every life
and in every nation
Heads all nod
and moonshoes sit unlaced, still in their boxes on store shelves
they gather the dust of my skin, the flesh of my scalp clawed off in my sleep from the guilt
and the fear
and the abyssal wonder
of watching my our future(s) dissipate in a cloud of smoke exhaled from her lungs out my mouth past his tongue through our teeth

Why bother?
When all of us just want to exhale before we cough
When all of us just want to save ourselves the pain and chase some sweet sacrificial high
There it goes
All of it in smoke
All of it in earthly dust and knots of oily hair waiting under the sofa, the chair, in the                               corners of the kitchen and sprouting from under my nails, coughed up from the lungs of no           one in particular laughing at the wall, pretending the future won’t exist
When the future is all that does when the future is all we own
When the future is covered in bursting pustules too ugly to accept as real but too tempting to an         empty stomach to forget about

Why bother? 
I’ve never been in a rocket but I can still tell you what they look like
I’ve seen others hit the stars and I can tell you who they love
earth-bound and content to watch the takeoff on TV
earth-bound and never in fear of oxygen
earth-bound and constantly choking on entitlement
earth-bound and wiping shit from my great uncle’s legs

I’ve never touched a ball of fire, but I can tell you that it burns

Writhing with jealously or maybe anger or maybe lust
but altogether too anxious to do anything other than cry or break my hand or write someone a             poem that they say they’ll love and that maybe they actually will but who’s praise still                     leaves me searching for fulfillment from people I don’t know sitting on their phones                       pressing buttons they’ll forget about in two minutes

All in the time it takes me to breathe
do I see these lives heading out into the world, slowly wearing down pairs and pairs of brown or           black shoes
All in the time it takes to spread the blueprint
to heft the screwdriver
to swing the hammer
do I spin in a head on this spinning ball of living dirt and wonder why I’ve never built a                            spaceship

So I hunt down the moonmen and moonwomen and I talk to them and I spread my words around them thick and warm, still steaming from their place in me, and I ask them why and I ask them how and they tell me why and they sing to me how and I remember what it was like to sing for myself and how it felt to kiss my future on its supple golden forehead every night

And it’s grace
and it’s mercy
and it’s forgiveness
and it’s a cracked plaster Jesus bleeding on me from the hole in his side
and it’s the gum under the pew
and it’s me
and it’s you
and it’s all that saves me from myself

Now when I hunt for tomorrow I find it waiting, the shape of my lips still on it’s weathered skin but it’s knees do not bend for me and it’s pace only quickens, but the moonmen and the moonwomen gave me some dusted-off moonshoes the other day and they even laced them up for me nice and tight and perhaps this time I won’t trip and fall inside myself, perhaps this time I’ll make it to the launchpad, to beyond this earthly bubble, to nothing, to everything

3.11.16