Like I can’t draw them straight,
People collapse into pretend anarchy.
But we stay behind the yellow line.
Here, I have no option
but to categorize
and my eyes, darkening thicker, darting hither
and yawning, sweating, glaring.
Why are we so unfairly
They say, claim your baggage,
but only after you’ve been ineluctably delineated
as not one of us.
I will; I’ll claim my baggage —
my packages pale with faint red dusting
that I filled so poorly, blustering away,
“Why must I keep this? And this?
Broken. Busted. Bruised. Hearts
are so inconveniently shaped, see.
I should have thrown out these three,
maybe just kept that little soapstone piece,
heavy, but intransigent; like me.”
Arrogance expands at altitude, they say,
and pulverizes those most precious vulnerabilities.
I can’t claim that.
I won’t stand in line for that.
Here’s where I snicker and sneer.
Unload the derision first,
for fear I’ll lose my wit!
And not one of us
can break locks, slit canvas, desperate
to grasp and run, undone
by the looming suitcases of those blank faces
careening, with you and for you, into nothingness.
Thus we must categorize, or hide, or spill
our filthy histories out on every rising tide.
But I can scoff, I can scoff
while I am still aware
of the ludicrous profanity
of our mistakes on a conveyor.
They say, claim your baggage.
I say, it claims me —
and maims me, enslaves me, interrogates me:
this distended collection of rancorous memories,
my fathers and friends and lovers and enemies,
wretched, dismissed, and reckoning with
my soapstone heart.
Open them, weep for them, ink them in your arm
and never forget. Never forget.
I can claim that.
I’ll stand in line for that.