Susanne Nilsson CC
“The meaning of anything is merely other words for the same thing.”
Charlie Chaplin, Limelight
I miss your presence in this world, and I call
That feeling loss, which only means I
Miss your presence in this world. Death
Is stupid, and loss is just as bad.
Would I feel better if your absence
Were heroic or sacrificial? If there were
Some purpose to it? There wasn’t.
A little spot of thickened blood
Slid almost randomly into an artery,
And everything came to a stop. It had
Nothing to do with your life or mine
Or anything you wanted to accomplish.
It wouldn’t have mattered if you’d died
For some worthy cause. I’d still miss you
And have no words to encompass
What I felt. Metaphor’s inadequate,
And even worse, seems false. You don’t
Hover in my thoughts. You haven’t
Moved to another country, a place where
You could receive phone calls, exchange
Text messages. You’re not swooping around,
An unseen bird or Amazon delivery drone,
Checking out everything going on below.
You’re already ashes and memories that
Aren’t dimming as quickly as they should.
I can’t think of any worse fate for you
Than watching us, your friends, from up
In some cloudy heaven, seeing us make
Mistakes you would have prevented,
Forgetting what you would have remembered.
I’d like to think you died out of
Frustration with people who couldn’t
See the obvious. You could’ve seen it,
Did see it, but now you can’t. Death might
Be a relief after that kind of rage.
Except it isn’t. The only you that’s left
Is the one I carry around complaining
In my head. If other people carry you around
The same way, that’s someone different,
Someone they knew, not me. You don’t have
To remind me that language falters,
Confronted by what doesn’t exist. It
Can signify but not describe, which is why
We make shit up. Even Homer does it,
Imagining Achilles wandering around
Those sunless lands, remembering the bright
World he left behind. It’s so much worse
Than that. You’re not a spirit in Hades’
Fields. You’re not even you. You’re gone,
Become nothing, and I’m left with nothing to
Say or imagine, just a handful of words that
Don’t mean much of anything.
George Franklin’s most recent poetry collections are Remote Cities (Sheila-Na-Gig Editions, 2023), and a dual-language collaboration with Colombian poet Ximena Gómez, Conversaciones sobre agua/Conversations About Water (Katakana Editores, 2023). Individual publications include: Black Coffee Review, Solstice, Rattle, Cagibi, New York Quarterly, Sheila-Na-Gig, Tar River Poetry, The American Journal of Poetry, and The Ekphrastic Review. He practices law in Miami and teaches poetry workshops in Florida prisons. Website: https://gsfranklin.com/
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