It’s the return of the dead

For the last installment of Open Link at Toads. One of the longest poems I have ever written.

It’s the return of the dead
“If I but thought that my response were made to one perhaps returning to the world, this tongue of flame would cease to flicker. But since, up from these depths, no one has yet returned alive, if what I hear is true, I answer without fear of being shamed.” from Dante’s Inferno, epigraph to love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T S. Eliot

it is not true that the dead do not return.
I dreamed of my mother and grandmother last night
in the kitchen of our family home.
I was standing in the middle of the kitchen
and they were seated at the kitchen table drinking coffee.
be true to yourself my mother said.
don’t lie about what you think my grandmother said.
I have slit my wrists and written poetry from the blood
that spattered on the floor.
I look out the back door of the kitchen
where our garden was.
It is burning. The Amazon is burning. Wildfires are burning.
change is coming.
God said he would never destroy the world by water again,
it would be by fire this time.
Ocean waves are crashing on the steps of our front porch.
change is coming.
God spoke in double tongues.
We are being destroyed by both fire and water.
We are destroying ourselves.
I sit at the table with my mother and grandmother.
My long dead cat is rubbing against my legs
and I pick him up and set him on the table.
The water licks our feet
and the ceiling crashes in flames over our heads.

19 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kestril Trueseeker
    Aug 27, 2019 @ 15:28:02

    If humankind continues the way it does, a good deal many more dead might be visiting us, and they have every right to howl their anger. It’s disheartening that there are so many who are deaf to both the groans of the dead and the cries from those still surviving, still shouting to have their truth heard over infernos and storms.


  2. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)
    Aug 27, 2019 @ 16:17:47

    We are trying to be Gods ourselves, and creating our own Armageddon… fire and water… both with power to destroy.


  3. sanaarizvi
    Aug 27, 2019 @ 17:44:04

    This is so poignant. I was shocked to learn that the fire in Amazon was set on purpose 😥 what is the world coming to?


  4. Rosemary Nissen-Wade
    Aug 27, 2019 @ 22:20:17

    It’s an absolutely wonderful poem – albeit saying things I wish were not so. (But of course I do know and agree with what you say in your first line.)


  5. el34ax7
    Aug 28, 2019 @ 00:21:53

    God gave Noah the rainbow sign
    Said “No more water but fire next time”

    Oh Mary, don`t you weep

    /back into the shadows


    • kanzensakura
      Aug 28, 2019 @ 00:24:01

      Hello dear Aaron. I ha

      Get Outlook for Android



    • kanzensakura
      Aug 28, 2019 @ 00:26:57

      Hello dear Aaron. I have missed you and wondered/worried about you. Are you still in Japan?

      Get Outlook for Android ________________________________


      • el34ax7
        Aug 28, 2019 @ 00:33:23

        “I ain`t dead yet / My bell still rings”

        I am still in the land of the “raising son.” I have sorely missed our correspondence. Been a lot of worry and wonder about these days. I am sorry to have contributed, but I am warmed that I have not been completely forgotten. /hugs


        • kanzensakura
          Aug 28, 2019 @ 00:36:50

          Of course you have not been forgotten! Never. I have lost 3 friends by suicide and truth to tell, I was worried about you. Good to know your bell is still ringing dear.

          Get Outlook for Android



  6. thotpurge
    Aug 28, 2019 @ 23:47:57

    Wonderfully written, Toni. I love how you’ve brought the global problem to the doorstep- as we all should be thinking.


  7. Marian
    Aug 31, 2019 @ 11:53:41

    Change is coming. Change is here. What will we do?
    This is a great poem, Toni. I hope your matriarchs and feline familiar have some advice.


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