Can you tell which is which?
David ‘Doc’ Luben performs this breathtaking poem at the Vancouver Poetry Slam. As one commenter said “How can something be so uplifting and so shattering at the same time?”
Counting lines from love letters or
Don’t freak out.
It’s been coming for a long time.
I have been staying awake at night
wondering if I should tell you.
I bought the kind of crackers that you
like they are in the hall cupboard.
Now that we have watched all of the episodes
of Tru Blood I don’t know what else to
I have been too afraid for too long.
It’s the kind of thing we’re waiting
for — the right time to come would mean
waiting forever it’s the kind of thing
no one else can help you decide
I came home on a Thursday afternoon and found
all of the chairs in the house stacked
in a pile in the center of the living
room. I didn’t know how long they’ve been
like that but it must have been me that
did it. It was the kind of thing a ghost
might do to prove to the living that he
is still there. I’m haunting my own
My grandmother was still alive
when I was five years old and she
told me to check and see if the iron was
hot yet so I pressed my hand against it
and it was red and screaming for hours.
Twenty-five years later she would still
sometimes apologize. “I feel bad about
making you touch the iron,” she would say,
as though it just happened. I cannot
imagine how we forgive ourselves for all
the things we didn’t say until it was
too late but how else is there to tell
if something is hot but to touch it?
I’m not afraid I thought I would be I
look forward to being startled but now
it’s just here so rare to be so sure
that one thing is directly to do.
I wonder and wonder what other people
will feel about it but of course they
will never tell me
The way the light reflects off your cheeks
is so beautiful makes my hands shake.
I was eight years old and it took three
weeks — three eight year old weeks, imagine —
to gather everything that I needed to be
that man who throws boomerangs. A mask, a vest
with metal parts. I couldn’t find a cave
so I buried them all in a bundle under
the ivy. Four years after I tried to find
a spot again, the ivy grew too fast.
I searched so many spots it seemed
impossible that I had missed any but I
never found it.
How can something just not be there anymore
how do we forgive ourselves
for all of the things we did not become?
I was never bold enough to buy bright
green sheets I wanted them but I always
thought they were too brash even with no
one but me to see them. I bought a set
yesterday and put on the bed I knew that
you would like.
‘It must have been me that did it, it’s the kind of thing a ghost might do to prove to the living that he is still there.’
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