You ever tear your own heart out?
Ever think the past is too great to understand,
a welling, broiling heap in your gut
which points straight up through your throat to accuse
the eyes which would not see?
Did you ever stamp your foot
and feel the whole Earth tremble,
feel the crumbling boulders which stood before you
collapse in a dusty cloud around your red fists
as you screamed your revenge to the sky?
Have you taken your needles where they’d be loved best,
have you given them peace in the morning,
and did you kiss their sweet skin
when their lives were spent
on the job for which they were meant,
Did you ever tear your own heart out,
not as some stupid kid but a smiling triumph,
a savior at last from the weakening days,
who knew just what to do?
Did you preserve it pristinely on its blessed way out,
to keep it locked out of the reach
of nasty well-wishers and long-lashed angels
who’ve had it their plaything enough?
Do you keep it hidden like this and like that,
not for spite or for fear or for shame,
but for God’s sake, one damned thing of beauty which must,
above all, be allowed to survive?
Were you the one who grinned at funerals,
knowing the peace and the humor in that?
Do you now walk among them, those mourning crowds,
to prescribe the sort of thing which healed you?
And what will you do now-
yes, what shall I do,
with years of no answer but joy-
if you ever tore your own heart out, I knew-
you did, and so do I.