But the icons fall

And that sour smell of sweat and lust extends
its slimy fingers to feel the pulsing need in
our spent carcasses. What are we after all the
goodness has been distilled out of us? What
are we when we become sediment at the bottom
of our wants? What is left after honour and god
and country and love? When there is nothing
more to fight for? When skin and lips and pain
only delay the nightmares? I burnt incense, once,
the delicacy of sandalwood and jasmine rising in
grey rings as if the path to salvation was paved
with the perfume of righteousness. But the icons
fall. Or the masks. Or the door to your soul bangs
shut and there is no escape. Ashes on the table.
You reach out again. Feel skin and lips and pain.
Darkness is four excuses away. I tried the truth,
once. What are we when we have no more lies?
Breath burns. Bodies rise and fall. You scream. The
smell of sweat and lust and nothing else to fight for.

 

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42 thoughts on “But the icons fall

  1. no sweat in conjuring up four excuses daily to ward off the darkness – thwarting our learned tendency to seek refuge in the dark, light simply being the necessary complement to bring it on.

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    1. That’s so interesting- and I’m assuming you’re making a political reference. Wasn’t thinking about that, but then anything we hope and believe in and fails us – can leave us in despair. Thanks so much, Colleen.

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  2. This is deeply thought-provoking and powerful, Rajani! Especially like; “Darkness is four excuses away. I tried the truth, once. What are we when we have no more lies?”

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  3. “Darkness is four excuses away. I tried the truth,/once. What are we when we have no more lies?”

    Ah, there is such an astute understanding of the human condition in your words. What are we without all these things when we haven’t realized what we are with them? The sense of righteousness can only take us so far.
    Going to mull over this verse for a bit.

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  4. The play between question and statement makes for a very powerful existential poem, Rajani.
    What
    are we when we become sediment at the bottom
    of our wants?

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  5. ” as if the path to salvation was paved
    with the perfume of righteousness”…

    I like that description of incense. And the poem, I suppose, hinges on the idea that “all the goodness” can be distilled out of us. I suppose for some, that is true – and of course, then, this poem paves that journey into despair (and describes it quite hauntingly) But I believe far more of us hold onto a little more virtue than vice … or at least search for it and that searching (I pray) is our salvation and/or grace.

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  6. Your poem is a contemplative journey and very contemporary. “I tried the truth,
    once. What are we when we have no more lies? deep question. Love your poem

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  7. This poem’s truth and sadness gave me a glimpse of a despair that sometimes reveals itself in my heart. I love the depth of your words, they make me travel inward and inspect my darkness, my own falsehoods. You are so wise…and talented.

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  8. Luv the pathos in the image of burning incense followed by “But the icons
    fall. Or the masks. Or the door to your soul bangs”

    A very profound poem. Thanks for the depths Rajani

    Much❤🕊❤love

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