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Karl .

His mind is black and earthy potting soil.
If you could saw off the top of his skull
let some light in
then you would see it:
smelling of dirt.

If you put your hand inside it
would feel warm
sinking fingers down deep
moist and gritty with the particles of dead life
and fine rock grains
mixed minerals and wholesome organic rot
just waiting in there
ripening .

If you could saw off the top of his skull
let some light in

He tries to do it with the light his doctor gave him
and the pods he places under his tongue
like a gardener.

He opens heavy eyelids to suck in the light
but he cannot keep them down at night
and they let out more than they take.

They burn like kerosene in the dark, flickering and sparking
and ash enriches soil, soft and smooth, a little oily,
ash that settles on your skin when
you’re near him in the night,
that feels silky and dirty
between your

like the itching Ash Wednesday mark
that you cannot bring yourself to rub off.

This is a poem I wrote around seven years ago, about a friend I had met as a teenager, a fellow altar server and Catholic school veteran who was always expected to be the Good and Smart One, who became lost in tragedy and trauma without anyone realizing he needed help until one day all anybody expected of him was madness, homelessness, and addiction.

Reader, I married him. It was the best crazy decision I've ever made. We are celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary this weekend. From the ashes of the good and smart Catholic child rose a man like no other, who is an extraordinary husband and father and eccentric, joyous, adventurous life partner, who burns with light and warmth for his wife and daughter, until death do us part. As they will sing at the Rammstein concert where we'll celebrate our anniversary, "Asche zu Asche und Staub zu Staub."


  1. We've spoken in depth about this poem.

    All's well that ends well.

    Happy anniversary, darling ones.


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