The Last Poet Standing

For Melissa Blank and Ben North 


Lasting longer than the rest
The final poet stood up
Amidst thousands of books
Burned down around her feet
Now ashes to ashes, now complete.
Dust to dust sunrise to dusk
She asked the gods to slip
Into her mind what she couldn’t find
Descriptions, colors, thoughts
Flowers she’s never seen, people she
May never meet.
And instead of bursting into flame
The room cried a storm of tears
And their ashes washed away down to the street
Where they sunk into the earth
Melting the soil leaving only
The voices behind with her to hold.

Yet only the words “death”
And “afraid”
And “cancer”
Came instead.
She cried out loud
“You don’t even know me, yet you defend me.” Pleading,”please. Give me back my words, please.”
Their brilliant brains battered them.
Now in their silence and rest,
The fates leaving her alone to give some reason.
Resonance of what happens now,
What do we do today
Now they’ve gone away.
A child asks these stupid things
Adults respond without a clue
Nothing to say, less they can do.
Yet,
She persisted and insisted on their behalf.
It’s no good, to herself again
Another crumpled page atop
The mountain piled high.
That night she sat
Opening and straightening and reading
But throwing each into the stove.
Her words cremated and remain forever unheard.
Her heart beat hard in her chest
Under the thousand pounds of weight.
She’d heard a ton of stones
Weighs exactly the same as a
Ton of feathers,
Rocks kill quick
While feathers from an unseen bird
Float into her mouth taking her breath and
Slowly suffocating the poetess.

The world turned again
And written in her hand the morning after
She picked up the papers reading
Only “death” and “fear” and “cancer”
Not one the right answer.

The poem, it’s complete
Yet one simple question remained
Unanswerable. What’s there to gain
By knowledge, here anyway?
But why choose me?
In her head a baritone voice said:
“You tell me why.”
And then she did.

This video dedicated to Melissa Blank whose death took a toll on me – not nearly what her husband and loved ones feel…but doesn’t every death from cancer feel harder and more personal the longer we go on with our own diseases? Thank you Rudy, for your friendship and for these memories for us for everyone when we die, too. Cancer friendships burn fast and bright and I’m grateful for ours. The Brain Cancer Diaries Music Version Stevie Wronder Higher Ground

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