Then came a time when the gods
turned away and hid their face.
The waking people became so desolate
they carved graven images upon their skin
with inks of lurid colors: here was their lover
their mother their favorite novelty character
crawling up their arms or across their backs,
glaringly imprinted there for the duration.
And then the people appeared to each other
as a walking canvas of dreary daydreams
in search of a god so real they could call
their own, their one and only true redeemer.
They bowed six times to their own minds, yet
only the fragrance of perpetual discord wafted
noxiously through their temples, their stadiums,
their own homes, and their electric social media —
their despair not a secret, their confusion complete —
they waged war with themselves in their mirrors.
(The sleeping people did not stir, they communed
in silence with the gods in their private domain
and knew it was not yet time to awake.)
The world above the dissolving dead had become itself
a bewildered place where the waking people pierced
their skins with metallic rings and needles and yet
could find no lasting relief from their thoughts.
They slipped their hands into each other’s emptiness,
their eyes an advertisement for apathy, their quest
for longevity defeated from the very outset
by the poisons they fed each other.
Into this dark and lonely realm we were born,
but we refrained from self-mutilation and instead
planted seeds of melon, squash, and blueberry.
We didn’t care to hear the old god stories,
they seemed so human in the end.
We were not awake, we were not asleep,
we were not anything with a name or form,
we liked it that way, and so we walked out
into the new gardens and harvested a happiness
that did not depend on turning towards or away.
We devised no feared enemy to defeat, choosing instead
to live in peace, and the gods smiled down, bird-like,
from their godly perch on a branch of the tree of life,
where new leaves flowered into light, and the dark
old world became, in this way, just a little brighter.