Ben Miesner

Plenty has already been said
about beauty
residing in the eye
of its beholder…
But what about my
stubborn unwillingness
or worse, utter inability,
to even behold it
in the first place?

The sun,
despite all recent evidence
suggesting it my have finally
abandoned us,
rising in a blue sky.

Morning walks with the dog,
neither of us
getting any younger;
the sights, sounds, and smells
of morning
reacquainting us
with consciousness.

A wife who
suffers,
forgives,
and loves
more than many would,
more than any should.

Do I somehow
feel entitled
to these things?
What am I owed?

A former classmate
of mine,
not yet thirty,
buried her husband last week.
Tragedies like his
can serve as either
blinders or
reminders.

If the past
is any indication,
the outlook
is bleak.

--

--

Is it pity or envy that I feel
for the two squirrels dancing
on the dead limb of the winter tree
outside my window?

Do they know
that the world is burning?
Do they care
that the days of the squirrel
may very well be numbered?

But perhaps it is not at all a question
of whether they know or not.
The scene playing out before me,
which teaches me more about the squirrel
than I ever thought I would care to know,
reveals the only answer I really need:

In spite of the ubiquitous cold
and death that is all around,
the dance goes on.

--

--

The lights go
up and
the pit swallows
more than it can lawfully hold
as the headliner
takes the stage.

Guitars blaring
and drums snaring
as hundreds
of sweating
jumping
heaving people
collide against each other
yet simultaneously sway
together in unison.

I see my brother
screaming along,
my sister
surfing across
outstretched arms as
the front-man recalls
souvenirs of
happiness in the moment.

And maybe
this is an example
of that.
A reminder
that life is lived
in the small moments.
Something to
cling to
when the light
is extinguished,
the hope
imperceptible.
A reminder
of things to fight for:
Breath
and joy
and punk rock.

--

--

I see myself
standing
at the intersection
at the bottom
of the off-ramp.

Worn clothes,
head down,
hands out
holding
a small piece
of cardboard.
Voicing
one final
supplication to
whomever, whatever
might
be able to
help out today.

Of course
it is not
the real me
I see.
But the me
who
so easily
could have been.

Had I
been given
a shade less
grace.
Had I
had one
or two
fewer people
in my
corner.
Had I
not had
any
of those
chips fall
my way.

Had that
butterfly
not flapped
its wings at
the precise
moment
it did.

So while
the would-be
me
breaks down
after receiving
twenty
measly
dollars,
the real
me
chokes back
tears wondering
how close
we
came to
being and
meeting in
each other’s shoes.

--

--