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Dream Song #17

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They took my body to the forest
They asked me to climb a ladder

I did not want to climb a ladder
But they forced me to climb the ladder

If you don’t climb the ladder
we will bury you in the foamy mud

I had to decide: should I die
by hanging or by burial

I climbed the ladder and they wrapped
a belt around the thick limb of a tree

And then when I could no longer breathe
they tossed me into a stream

And I floated to the edge of the village
where someone prayed for my soul

It’s like this in a lullaby
for the end of the world:

The options for the end
are endless

But this is not really a lullaby
for the end of the world

It’s about the beginning
what happens when we start to rot

in the daylight
The way the light shines on

the ants and worms and parasites
mauling our bodies

It’s about the swarms of dogs
gnawing our skin and bones

Do you know what it’s like
when a ghost licks your intestines

Do you know what it’s like
when a rat devours your brain

To avoid the hole
the children must sing sweetly, softly

To avoid the hole
they must fill their songs with love
Source: Poetry (May 2014)

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This poem originally appeared in the May 2014 issue of Poetry magazine

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Dream Song #17

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