stardust and vapor and ashes

Underneath the soles are ashes
of lazily rolled cigarettes dragged nervously until the embers burned
the web between fingers whose already torn nails made their way
into sour mouths, breath bitter , of tobacco and caffeine
and oft repeated words whispered over chapped lips, their corners raw
from overuse, paralleled by parched throats sucking in the unforgiving
unfamiliar air, longing for something familiar–

Or they are ashes of the long dead
spilled from chafed urns carried in arms too weak to know their insignificance
Specks of Those That Were carried on merciless winds that point the sails of the restless
nowhere, the charred remnants of dying breaths, their makers straining to peer
once more around the bend, casting their dying sounds back again
hoping futilely that these, the remains, the ashes will make it
Never knowing that their fibers are caught in the wool of over-large sweaters,
mixing with the embers of cigarettes, sucked into the bursting lungs of the naive
cast out and bearing down the path they’ve already traveled.

Still they traverse the deep grooves, ankles caught in overgrowth made new again
Liars light arranged just so to render the path beautiful, the innocent eyes just missing
the danger lurking beneath the soil;
At the bend turn back and cast suspicious eyes on what might have been
Hear the echoes of voices belonging to Those That Went Before
The space in the mind reserved for “collective unconscious” already filled
With stories that would have use were you not a different being entirely,
And besides, the path is made new again. Look back and miss
the step that was yours, placed there just for you
missed by mere moments, if only you had set your eyes forward faster
Had you only thought to listen to the cries of Echo
You would have known.

Lie awake in the dust, gravel kicked up around you, smothering you, your
dress torn, tattered, its color misremembered,
Remember the tale that you will tell:
Forget the tumult of stumbling over the dead and dying
The weak still clutching at your heels bidding you onward
All while their eyes are thrown back the other way;
Release the grip of the grieving who, while withering into the void, await the ship
that will bear them onward,
Avert your eyes when you stumble over anchors.
Pretend that you do not feel the sting of the guillotine as it beckons to you
swearing that with its grooves and its hollows and its disrepair this was the better choice, that the other with its green and its youth and its futility was little more than
frost and decay;
Swallow back the ache in your throat, but first spit out the ashes
Of those that came before
Of the parts of you still burning Into embers
The parts of you still ignited.

Underneath the soles are ashes
Spread like wildfire through your veins–
They are you.
You are them.

When you meet at last the bend you are little more than vapor.

You forward in mind only,
Your voice echoes without sound,
They cannot hear you
They would not hear you could they,
They are borne forward on their own, your tale useless to them
(For you could not know, not really, who can?
And even in nothingness you do not.)
You pretend that your vapor will turn to substance
That you are more than they, they are ashes you are stardust

But in the end, you too are ashes.

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