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Baggage Claim

Lines —

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

categorized?


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.

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