"Trees are poems the earth writes upon the sky,
We fell them down and turn them into paper,
That we may record our emptiness."
Khalil Gibran

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Beyond Salvage

Artist Unknown
Source Pinterest

There are some who read signs
of doom in acts of men and plan their defences:
believe in barbed wire constructs
but ignore the flood waters spilling through cracks
in the pavement beneath their own feet.

We are all burn victims
picking over the crumbling edges of our rubble.
We clutch at love, perhaps, a last straw
but dine on offal in the meantime because today
might be lacking in personal redemption.

Somewhere in this city, the last man awake
stares blankly at a mute screen: his feed has died
and he suffers the immediacy
of his own tragic company too susceptible to darkness
and chooses to fall upon his broken sword.

Children should be taught to swim.
Nakedness is its own protection; hold a magic lantern
to a mirror and step into your own being.
Yes, the truth, as we know it, has been shot from the sky:
Salvage the shards without cutting your fingers.


I find much inspiration in the results of photographic competitions, notably that of International Photographer of the Year and the Street Photography Competition run by Lens Culture. As all material is under copyright, I have not included one with this post, but encourage your perusal of the links provided.



  1. It is so interesting how you use both fire and water here as destructive forces and emblematic of the catastrophe the poem details, or slow catastrophe. I especially like the stanza beginning with children should learn to swim. Thanks. K.

  2. I like the sudden appearance of "Children should be taught to swim." Despite the terrifying final two lines, that note of nakedness as power shines a needed light.

  3. Wow. That last line landed hard. We should be taught to swim, nakedness is its own protection, handle potential danger with care.

  4. Stark and right to the bone of our global pain. Especially powerful is "We are all burn victims picking over the crumbling edges of our rubble." The photo makes me think of Syria and the ludicrous nature of two forces fighting over an area they totally destroy in the "winning". Sigh.

  5. "Nakedness is its own protection;" not that is a most intriguing thought - hard to hide And the quote Sherry highlights. Outstanding poem that leaves one uncomfortable ...

  6. What I like about this is that the first 3 stanzas are topical...and accessible...the 4th becomes a little mysterious, but holding the magic lantern to a mirror I interpret as deeply introspective--peering into the soul.

  7. Let me speak to your publisher. I didn't give my permission to be included in stanza 3.

  8. suffers the immediacy
    of his own tragic company ... loved those lines. A perfect summary of our times.

  9. This was abstract, pointed and intriguing.

  10. Amen -- Living and loving in the ruins is all we ever had, making our bed in smolder -- in nakedness, as you say. The defenses, the barbed wire fortifications, fail to protect us from who we are. Well done, Kerry --

  11. That last stanza pulls at the heart, Kerry, which is something you do so well even in your most intellect-embodied poems--the ruins we walk are the shattered lives and futures of us all, a place where 'the feed' has truly died.

  12. Luv the allegory of children learning to swim for we do have to face challenges and must wear the armour to be victorious

    much love...

  13. This is an incredibly powerful poem steeped in so much wisdom and truth.


  14. This is fantastic, Kerry. I'm drawn to the literalness of the third stanza, as though I actually know that guy. Good work writing through the pain that is today. I am grateful for it.

  15. "Children should be taught to swim." What a valuable and wise lesson, Kerry... especially in the world of your poem (and in ours, too). We can try to protect, to guide, to stand in front of those who can't defend themselves... But nothing will do the job as well as helping them see the dangers, and teaching them how to face them.

  16. I read this very much in the light of the news from Aleppo, and all of the sudden I feel like I'm there suffering alongside... the sentence "Children should be taught to swim" painted a vivid contrast to something that feels like ducking from mortars.

  17. I wonder if we even must learn, when cut on those shards, to continue... ~


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