Poem: The Death of a Thousand Cuts

The Death of a Thousand Cuts

By Michelle Garren Flye

She’s whole, pure, beautiful

When she steps out into the world,

And the first cut is kind of pitiful—

She barely notes the blood pearl.

The second comes out of nowhere—

Perhaps from the company she keeps?

She bandages it up with great care,

But no one hears when she weeps.

Third, fourth and fifth go deeper—

Needing more than a few stitches.

She covers them with a sweater

And cries until her breath hitches.

By the twentieth, she’s beyond care.

The blood splotches the floor in drips.

She armors herself to prepare

For the constant onslaught of whips.

She’ll go on and on and on

Into a world full of attacks.

She feels like an automaton,

Just surviving all the whacks.

A hundred, two hundred, more

And the armor barely dulls

The sting of each strike before

Silence falls in the rarest of lulls.

She wonders what each blow takes.

Is it blood or faith that she bleeds?

God, religion, nation—each forsakes

And their call she no longer heeds.

It’s cruel what life does to you—

How it parades and poses and struts.

In the end it’ll take you, it’s true,

By the death of a thousand cuts.

Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

Poem: (In Remembrance) Cast Out

(In Remembrance): Cast Out

By Michelle Garren Flye

 

It’s all over but the crying now.

We never knew that would happen. We didn’t see the loss of hope, the loss of growth, the loss of who we are. How could we?

Even as we witnessed its birth.

We clustered around televisions and fell to our knees and cried and prayed and cursed. We angrily threw a flag over the destruction.

We swore we’d make them pay.

Blinded by rage, we fight a war no one can win. We send our soldiers to deserts of ash and blood. We lose what’s left of freedom in revenge.

And what of those born after?

Born into a world of anger and suspicion, how can our children ever be innocent? We guard and shield, but they know and despair.

Do you remember what it was like—before?

Before the hate, the fear, the constant defending against evil. Doesn’t it look like a golden age now? Doesn’t it look like a garden?

It’s all over but the crying now.

Cast out, left to drown in hot tears like jet fuel streaming from the eyes of a nation. Did it melt our core? Do we only wait to fall?

Regret tastes like ash, blood, desert sand. And tears.

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“But”: A Poem for Independence

Happy birthday, America. You’re 241 years old. Congratulations.

You’re still an infant on the world stage. An infant with a very big gun, but an infant still.

Maybe that’s why we’ve allowed you to get to this state. Mass deportations, guns in every pocket, a tyrannical toddler in charge, squabbling lawmakers unwilling to compromise, and worst of all, your beautiful land pockmarked and disfigured, air polluted and waters spoiled by avarice.

But.

But you’re a lovely idea, a perfect ideal to work toward. We’ve only taken a moment to tend to our worst selves. We’ll get back to the job eventually. We’ll return to the original intent of our forefathers. I believe that.

And I love you.

“I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” — James Baldwin

But

By Michelle Garren Flye

 

Lady Liberty holds a tablet and a torch—

The law of freedom, the light of hope.

 

But what does it mean when guns fill the street?

When drugs are offered but food is not?

Fear is the only law. There is no defense.

 

What happened to our freedom?

 

Some fight still for their most basic rights,

But the Bible of an intolerant God quashes them.

Your love is wrong. Your life is less.

 

Where is the light of hope?

 

It shines still, cutting a swath through darkness.

Land of plenty, home of brave, promises made—

 

But will they be honored?