Nov 20, 2023Liked by Michael Balter

It’s a tough one out there, Boomer, but well spoken.

From just another Boomer

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Thanks Eli. Tough indeed. Sometimes unbearable.

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"And we will never know how it all turned out, and whether somehow, magically, it all changed after we were gone."

Here is a longish poem I think I've finished recently but may still be working on, which addresses just that.



Some of the dead are curious, they will walk for years

through their dark house, asking later arrivals

for news of where it was they have left.

They have capacious memories—they all do, the dead,

but most spend all their unlimited time

sifting through the same cold ashes;

nor do they travel much.

Only a few,

the most curious of the curious,

in order to learn how things were

even before they first saw

the living world’s light,

seek out old neighbors

(rarely their parents)

of similarly curious mind,

who have themselves sought out strangers,

foreigners even; sometimes they learn a language

they never knew, alive; they walk years further

into the dark—time and space are alike

to them—it is slow going in the dark,

and crowded with strangers,

but they continue back and away

and down. They encounter others

like them; they exchange stories, and part. Somewhere

very deep and dark (but light is nothing to them;

why should it be?), and not at all crowded,

an almost-ape receives them:

not too well suited for walking but very curious,

not too well suited for language but still in love

with the stories they bring with the news—all those years of news

of where and who it left, and what became of them all.


I learned this from the dead when I was asleep.

Their house

is not ours (theirs is always dimly lighted), but there are cracks sometimes

in the walls between our houses, cracks between the floorboards

of their parlor above our cellar, in the floorboards

of our kitchen, our living room, our bedroom

above their capacious cellars. Sometimes someone sees someone

through the cracks; sometimes someone speaks.

I learned all of this from the dead, when I was asleep.

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