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Language Peers into Its Own Grave

by Duane Kirby Jensen

(Birthed at Poetry Laboratory and inspired by ambient sound created by Adam R Bagley.)


(Heavy worn-out breathing) Attempting to catch my breath on this pile of ruble, I give these last words to the wind as I look into the heart of this crumbled city now nothing but bent steel, shattered glass, and fractured memories. My battered body weakens by the moment, blood continues to cool, then dry on my skin. Over the buzzing of large flies circling me I hear hunters howl in the distance, voices uttering grunts and twisted sounds in place of recognizable words. Language peers into it’s own grave. For decades wild things have ravaged the symbols of art and science, shredded pages of books for bedding. They have attacked me with stone, fist and club. I have fought a doomed battle to keep the lamp lit, hiding books and art and seed free of genetic modifications. Each saved for that day when we might emerge from the wilds to reclaim the city from ruble, to reclaim fallow fields from milkweed and thistles. It’s been five years since I have conversed with a civilized mind. It has been forty years since the living fled cities and towns during the summer of 2017. I take small comfort knowing the tyrant went down in flames. The language of the haves and have-nots has been translated into the living and the dead. (Weak laughter) My long dead friend must have smiled witnessing the end of gentrification. (Heavy breathing) My time grows short. This city is not quiet. The wind plays havoc with the mind, it whistles through broken pipes and hollowed holes. I think I recognize a voice, a face, but there is nothing. I remember when these streets were filled with poets and panhandlers, protesters and developers and others, simply doing their day to day… Wild things are closing ground. And I, I am too tired to run. In my pocket, I carry, what might be the last un-hidden book. Beautiful words. Sharp words. Defiant words written by my old friend Robert Lashley. In my pocket, ‘Big mama’ lives on. (Halting breath) (Halting breath)


Duane Kirby Jensen is a painter and writer from Everett, Washington. He runs Everett Poetry Nite, and carved a religion from stone, shortly before making a child cry.  He Furthermore, he smells like lemons & olives, but tastes of vinegar. He is not a terrorist—definitely NOT A TERRORIST.