The fear of freedom

Is it lonely to stand so tall?
A mountain with nothing, no one else, in its view.
Is it dry to find you have no fear left,
and to know that the length of the universe is nothing but however many steps you take?
Is it terrible to be infinitely alive? 
To have nowhere else, no end, no way to die?
How long,
how long,
how long is it, exactly, to be free?

1912, Gerald E. Jones. The American annual of photography, Tennant and Ward. Harold B. Lee Library via Brigham Young University.

Some days

Some days, it becomes clearer that everyone is out for themselves in the end.

Some days, the fragility of relationships becomes so plain 
that it seems foolish to walk down the road lined with homes and hands beckoning.

Some days, the shallowness of what we call love becomes so plain that time spent searching for it seems so painfully pointless.

Knowing this, it’s hard to pour your soul into someone else;
because it’ll most probably get left out in the rain, or alone and deranged.

Knowing this, it’s hard to tell your children that the world is a beautiful place; and that even the last good things left standing—like friendship, love and family—would surely amount to something magnificent.

1814, Poems of life in the country and by the sea. Benjamin Francis. Muskegon, Mich, The Library of Congress via the Sloan Foundation

What kills men

There is a man next door,

paid to watch an empty land in Colombo-4;

It’s big enough, city enough to make his master rich.

He sits there all day watching over Marine Drive

and the ocean rolled different blues one after the other.


The first week I saw him, framed by my balcony door,

up at quarter to seven,

strutting out straight,

shaved, hair combed, shirt ironed and cigarette in hand-

a man with a mission.

He sat on his throne,

and his gaze cut through the salt dragging down the air

sharp and certain like a bone.


A full moon came and went,

and the wind direction changed,

so the clouds

left west.

And, the ocean rolled more blues.


Yesterday, I looked closer at his side profile,

while he sat centred precise between

the land’s end and Marine Drive.


He was mostly dead.

His chair was plastic and dusty.

His gaze hung limp like noon leaves. And he

was mostly dissolved in sea.

His cigarette was the only thing breathing.


My god, I think,

it’s not guns that kill men – not like this.

I must give him a pack

and a book

because dead men are terrible things

to live next to.


Image by Matt Frantz