My Empire, Collapsed

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Photo credit: Daniel Eskridge

So this is what my empire has been built upon:
A cracked foundation, that even now,
As I sign edicts to expand my domain
And further the reach of my dominion,
Crumples beneath my feet,
Leaving every effort to improve—
To expand and prosper—
Hollow and futile.
Though the season for another harvest draws near,
No crops will yield in this barren fallow,
Devoid of nutrients, inhospitable to sustenance;
And there, beyond the horizon
You bring forth your armies,
Armed with castigation and ridicule,
Tongues sharpened with prevarication,
Stinging me with baseless criticism.
Is it a wonder I flee before you
When you have uprooted me with your own hand?
So do not dare to chase me
Or hurl spears at my back
As I retreat from my kingdom to more fertile lands,
Enveloped in peace and hospitality;
Do not sneer in jealousy
When you court trade and import with another,
As though our one-sided alliance is in fair taste.
I have looked to a new horizon
And found something better,
So you can repair the foundation of the empire
I have left to collapse;
And should you fail in your endeavors,
Noble as you assure me they are,
Do not look to me to forge a new path for you;
My hammer is yours to wield no longer.

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Me, Vulnerable

Hand light particles

Here am I,
Vulnerable and exposed,
Because unlike the craven and weak,
I will not succumb to puerility—
Deluded by ego
Into believing there is strength
In shutting the world off,
Denying it my love and truth.
Revealing myself to her fully,
Whether in acceptance or rejection,
There is value in this soul’s existence,
And to repudiate that would be to blaspheme
Not only myself, but the spirits of those
Who would dare keep me in good company.
Even in the face of tragedy
The road to progress is singular,
And whether it cut me,
Bruise me,
Or hang me from the noose,
I will not lose sight.
Palm ever outward,
I will show them my own weakness,
My insecurities and fears,
And in the embrace of the few
Who would cherish me for all aspects,
I know there is a love that cannot be broken,
And when my moment is at hand,
I will die well because of it.

The Sins We Cannot Forgive

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Art by Tab109

In spite of the pomp and confidence
You exude every waking moment,
Your silence is baffling;
Nary a sound slips from your tongue,
At least not in my presence,
Because your words are reserved
For the debased and debauched
Who would only drag your soul
To the depths of a hell you think you crave.
When once we were soldiers,
Commanding nothing but our private legion—
Because we needed nothing or no one else—
You personified nobility,
And not a person who laid eyes upon you
Could ever deny it;
But your eyes lay not on me any longer,
And whether it’s because of your sin or guilt,
You cannot bear to look me in mine,
Perhaps for fear you will expose your shame
Even as you feign contentment.
But I’ve seen into your soul, friend,
And no reassurance or prose
Will convince me of your state;
You are damned, shackled to a fate
That you have only yourself to blame for,
And though God may forgive all sins,
We are not in heaven and I am not God.

Ascension

Ascension

You are the love of my life:
My best friend,
My pillar;
Our love is jejune and beautiful,
A delicate struggle,
A passion worth fighting for.
But for all the empyreal bliss—
Every piece that fits together—
There is something horrid,
Ripping away at my soul,
Tethering me to the earth,
Grounding me to your delusions.
I have become your shield,
And you my escape from the world,
And as high as our fire rises,
It also razes the landscape
Of my psychological well-being
So that I know love is not enough,
The will to push through is not enough;
You are not enough for me,
And I am not enough for you.
To preserve this rotting phalanx
That safeguards the tendrils of my sanity,
I am sorry, dear lover:
I must sever this chain that binds us
And soar to the sky, where I belong,
And if you choose to follow,
Know that the heavens are big enough for us both,
But they are not ours to conquer,
As we tried to possess the earth,
And I am here to receive new grace,
As I have nothing left to give.

Eulogy for a Friendship, Once Believed Unbreakable

Alone desert

Attempting to retain your friendship
Is akin to wading through a desert
Searching for an oasis
Long ago burned away,
Cast into oblivion by the scorching sun:
There is no reward in it,
Not even a mote of salvation or redemption
To be found wherever resolve
Used to dictate you in the most beautiful manner.
You have ceased to be what you were;
A shell wearing a mask of your face
Breathes, talks, and carries out your actions,
But I have stared into those eyes
And, like a desert, they are barren,
Influenced by the materials of this world.
It is with spine-tingling horror
That I have realized it is all gone:
The affection that turned to sorrow
Has now drifted from desperation
To sheer apathy—so close to bliss—
And as much as I try to cling
To wraiths of a past I abhorred,
I can only admit in earnest
That I have outgrown you,
Moved beyond you,
And I am fairly certain
This is the last thing I will ever write about you.

Distance

Alone in the crowd

She sidles along the edge
Between light and shadow,
A soul caught between kindness
And the necessity of intimacy;
Whoring friendship out
To every casual passerby,
Meandering from company to company,
Buying drinks, sharing laughs,
Every interaction as vapid as the last.
At night she’s still alone,
Even when bodies lay beside her,
Feeding her sorrow with the deprivation
Afforded by perpetuated disconnection;
Because in this exposé of camaraderie
There is no true friendship,
No one to turn to in the darkest hours,
Because everyone is pushed away,
Kept at that comfortable distance
To keep her spirits high in the sunlight
While guarding them from her insecurities
And the strife that flogs her every day.
In the end, returned silence
Is her closest companion;
All else is muted,
Colorless,
And she has not yet discovered
How to vivify her world.

Abandon

Invisible

Caring is not as simple as it seems.
It is not always smiling and laughing;
It is not cutting up with colleagues
Or the people you see day in and day out.
What it really means to care
Is to stand firm when those you claim to love
Have fallen to their lowest point
And can no longer stand.

From the bottom of my heart
I thought you would have understood that,
But as I stand with a noose around my neck,
Searching for a single reason not to jump,
You look past me, around me,
As if I am nonexistent in your realm of supremacy;
And whether I sew my mouth shut
Or scream supplications while staring you in the eye,
You remain stoic, silent,
Never bothering to grace me with a word of comfort
Or even your presence, to remind me you’re there.

In short, I can no longer believe you
When you tell me you care.

Specters

Specter

Here we sit across the void,
Two specters
Watching each other clandestinely,
Never speaking, never touching,
Just hoping the other will slip first:
I, the vacillating spirit,
Who weaves in and out of your consciousness—
At one moment the center of your attention,
And the next nonexistent in your realm;
You, the mute celestial,
Punishing me more with your silent presence
Than a thousand rejections ever could
Until my psyche ruptures in your palm.
Living in darkness is so much worse
Once you’ve glimpsed the effulgent light,
And every second absent your acknowledgement
Feels like an eternity under a starless sky;
But just as you’re at the forefront of my mind,
I know I am in the back of yours,
Lurking, as much a torturer as my love extends,
And with every step closer, I believe,
I only force you to suffer more.
It’s a spiteful parody we have succumbed to
That neither of us can escape from,
And so we sit,
Two specters,
Pretending the other doesn’t exist.

Soldier

knight_of_the_black_rose_by_neilblade

Art by NeilBlade

I am your soldier—
Your guardian—
Sworn to protect,
And loyal until the end.
On this battlefield
I brandish my sword in your defense,
To save you from the pain
That threatens to invade your psyche
And the torment
That would drag your soul to hell.
For you I fight, kill, and die,
Knowing full well I must shield you
From my own love above all,
Because the onus I bear
I cannot burden you with;
So when you are secure at last,
I retire to the fields of Elysium,
Or the halls of Valhalla,
Or even heaven above,
But the real reward is still your affections,
In my death, now given to another.

Suffering

Crumbling face

I want to wound you so bad,
And I am at a loss
If it’s because you’ve wounded me
Or if it’s to see how much you care.

But you’re already bleeding out—
A walking cadaver, soulless,
Wandering a void of self-pity,
Waiting to breathe your last.

The scars so deep have hardened
Only for you to cut them anew;
And who would I be
To add to your suffering?

Lying awake, these restless nights
Are spent sharing your torment,
Because despite the solitude that plagues you
Not for a second do you suffer alone.