Today's poem is by Al Maginnes

My Lives

In one I was a dog, reason enough
to extend my hand now to dogs and stay
as long as they require. Each life
as a cat was short and throttled
with rage. Countless more went by
nameless and wriggling, capable
of sensation, but not language.
In another I was the soldier bearing
torches to burn a city. And once
I died in a city that burned,
choked on the stink of my black
and boiling blood. I killed once
for love, and I was killed. The start
of wisdom comes with finding
no difference between the two.
Countless existences vanished
in an afternoon, winged fragments
cycling through birth, reproduction
and death between lunch and dinner.
Once I was a courtesan, bathed
in the juice of pomegranates, my flesh
rubbed soft by milk and pumice.
I was a lover of whores, who died
of drunkenness and lay undiscovered
until snow melt. One life wrote
a path into history's slow books
where it still lies, waiting
to be unburied. But each life believed
itself the single one I had,
before the door that groans open
at the end made clear how many
bodies I dwelt in, flesh not shed
like a garment, but healed
like a scratch too shallow
to leave a scar or command
any portion of dirt where they fall.

Copyright © 2008 Al Maginnes All rights reserved
from New Madrid
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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