Past Lives Poem

Featured in the #FINALPOEMS series on the Enclave page of Entropy magazine

Past lives poem

I guess you can say I’ve been busy

Living lives anything but epic
Basking in a thousand rays of sunshine
But never in fame or honor

I’ve been busy
While you were in Atlantis
Creating what would become
The field of science

I was in France, digging into dark caves
With hands full of ochre and soot
Making sure the world would always know
The shape of my right hand and foot
And the sweet contours
Of the local buffalo
When Jesus was busy gathering
You twelve disciples and three lovely ladies
I was hitch-hiking the silk road in Han China,
Writing new poems
On the new invention of paper

While you were scheming
In the courts of Cleopatra and Marc Antony,
I was busy pouring out my gold and blood
To the sun in Mayan temples

While you were sketching with DaVinci
During the renaissance I was
Being born into endless cycles
Of brutal beatings, lynchings, and forced labor
In the centuries
Of African colonization and slavery

While you were sitting lotus with Gandhi
In peaceful protest
And running naked through Woodstock
With various grasses between your toes,
Stuck in your hair, and breathed deep into your lungs

I was sewing beads into babies’ moccasins
While grinding roots and seeds
To create paint to decorate
Faces, horses, and pottery

I was dropping out of art school
To join a street circus
And maintain a starving artistic integrity
That no one respected
While waiting for under-nourishment
And sexually transmitted maladies
To turn my wary paranoia into
A soon to be be-headed
Headful of insanity

I was getting drunk and into bar fights
With Jackson Pollack

I was in bed with Miles Davis
Giving birth to cool

I was the night clerk
At the Chelsea Hotel

I was the security detail in
Warhol’s factory

I was the designer who sat down at a sewing machine
With yards and yards of polyurethane polymers
To construct the pants
Of David Lee Roth

While you were spending a century
Growing into a noble, wise, beautiful oak tree

I was baking in the sun
Amidst miles and miles of limestone
Spineless and grey-green
I popped peyote buttons out of myself
To lure priests
And induce visions

You may bear the memory scars
Of wars, deaths, murders, and failures

But I have a million birth memories
Into larval insect bodies
And memories of lives
That may have lasted under a week
But with rebirths and passionate reproductions
That enabled me to fly,
Gave me the strength and limbs to run,
Broke through my exoskeleton
And left me the legacy
Of being father to innumerable trillions

You may know exactly which Civil War uniform
You died and were barely buried wearing

But I was the prison guard who smuggled
Paper and ink to the Marquis de Sade

You may have travelled
In Tubman’s underground railroad

But I was busy taking over a full year to
Construct and stitch a quilt
That could communicate through trade routes and history
The stories, habits, prides, and struggles of my family

Yeah you can say
I’ve been  busy
I never changed the world,
I just did a lot of work,
Punched a lot of clocks,
Named a lot of babies,
Swept a lot of floors,
Avoided many revolutions and wars,

Was part of more counter-cultures
Than kingdoms or empires
And died alone in the woods
More times than I’ve been publicly staked
And set to fire

I’ve been pretty busy

I may not have been in any
Major predictions,
But at least Nostradamus took the time
In his forwards
To thank me,

His inter-dimensional,
Proofreading editor

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