Victory Enough

Erik Rittenberry

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BY ERIK RITTENBERRY


darkness disperses from midnight
skies as a revolution deep
in the galaxy delivers a spectacle
of explosions that kill off the old.

everyday worlds are destroyed
and suns are born in magnificent
nuclear brilliance
as we cling tightly to a small rock
floating in the infinite abyss
awaiting our turn.

woken, half-awake, half-sober, i’m sittin’
at my desk sippin’ coffee and pondering
the absurdity of it all. Genesis
tells us that Yahweh drowned his own
flawed creation like infants in a bathtub.
but we came back just as tainted as before.
and Job, the righteous man in the land of Uz,
found himself on his knees begging God
to save him from God.

nobody wins.

born as fallen, self-conscious
creatures,
cursed by a stranger’s
disobedience
and the wisdom
of death,
saved by bowing to dead
gods of Golgotha,
where a defiled breeze
tickles the leaves of olive trees
that sprout from eye sockets
of thorny skulls.

“on the brink
of the waters
of life and truth,
we are miserably dying.”

political mayhem has got the people on edge.
academic brains walk around evangelizing
benign sermons to the unread. tiki torches
of hate reach high into the night sky
as the spirit dissipates into a
desperate sigh.

the soldiers, deluded
and deceived by notions of
honor,
fight invisible wars
and die invisible deaths
while politicians profit
from the senseless
slaughter.

mass-driven anxieties have pushed
the people to the brink. cocooned up
inside their own heads,
unable to think, the noose swings
from daydreams
of voyages across tumultuous
seas of information
to the celestial land
of the locust
where nightingales sing
serpent songs in the
ominous dusk.

it’s a mad world where every thing appears radiant
until its secret is known, and wildflowers bloom
in unseen meadows, and stars shoot across vacant
eyes, and homely ladies search scriptures for moral
validation of their unlived lives, and men
build extravagant man caves in mortgaged homes
as their virility fades. bewildered and sour,
their residual days are spent at the will of the world,
scooting along with the fashions of the hour.

and look what we have. a whole goddamn
generation of over-medicated flesh bogged
down by the terror of life.

look at ’em. just look at ’em all,
the naive faces glued to the hypnotic
glow emanating from the palm of their
uncalloused hands. look at ’em
sleepwalking through it all, amply
ignorant while the wolves close in.

with pseudo smiles they’ve thrown themselves
into a role shaped by their sanitized culture.
they know not of the great works of art
and literature. they know not of history.
they know not that they’re just a pawn
in a rigged game. dullards with confidence
toasting to their own useless demise.

their lives have become mere calamities.
diluted blood
and brittle bones
meandering through this nightmare
suburbia where shadows loom
within hollow walls
and the light is devoured
by it all.

are we ever forgiven
for the wasted days,
for the loveless nights,
for the famished years?

we’re just children who’ve been misled
into taking ourselves too seriously.
we’ve abandoned the playground
for the cubicle, gave up health
for the pill, surrendered
freedom for the cell.

damn it, man…

give me the truth of you before the world
got at you. give me YOUR light, not the light
you’ve been taught to shine, but YOUR light
that illuminates YOUR deep magical darkness.

give me that primordial flame,
darlin’, that fierce flame that
forever burns burns burns
across the mere darkness
of this unforgivable universe.

nobody wins
darlin’…

you know it
we all know it.

but maybe,
just maybe
we can deny it
all along the way.

and
maybe
that’s
victory
enough.

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