Born Again

Erik Rittenberry



As the shadows lift, he yawns,
wipes dried vomit from his face
then crawls out of a side street ditch
in the heart of New Orleans.

Out of the internal dark,
he’s born again.

Still half-drunk from the night before,
he moves along with barefoot
gypsy girls who drink wine
and recite Nietzsche
in the gray dawn.

Tourist eyes, like daggers,
pierce the vagrant
as he crosses into the Quarter.

His bloodless hand,
adorned with makeshift tattoos,
reaches down and snatches
a cigarette butt
from the gutter,
lights it,
takes a heavy drag
and blows it up
to the heavens.

Desolate but alive,
I look into the bloodshot eyes
of a shattered life. And there it is.
Birth, death, and all the madness
in between.
No love or too much love.
No peace or too much peace.
He lives untied from the anchor,
empty of essence,
devoid of possessions,
and somehow,
still able to muster up
a smile
in the face
of the naked truth
of it all.


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