Poem: Today’s inspirational message

You don’t have to be grateful
for the death lurking silver on the underside
of leaves, the shadow in every face
the residue of potential touch

You don’t have to be brave
when the bodies heap the halls and line
the refrigerated trailers
when the grave yawns its wide mouth
so near now, on every wind

You don’t have to appreciate
the unfolding of a history penned
in blood and shit
on the backs of the broken

You don’t have to come out of this experience
with an appropriately monetized side gig
or an astounding piece of art (also
appropriately monetized) or a
marketable skill or a house
faultlessly cleaned with marketable products

You don’t have to come out of this experience
“a better person” with lips so soft and pressed
against the patent leather of the shoe
that tried to kick you to the edge.

You don’t have to appreciate the fine workmanship
of this shoe, handcrafted by some
talented workman who wore scruffy boots
himself and now lies barefoot
sprinkled with lime in the Italian village
where he died choking

The markets are closed now, even where
the doors remain open.
Where sickness doesn’t scythe us, hunger
lathes us down.
There is no one to sell yourself to now
and death doesn’t barter.
You don’t have to be grateful or brave or alone.

Doutielt3
The citizens of Toumai bury their dead during the black death. Miniature from manuscript, Belgium, 14th century

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