a mouth full of useless words

the elders would call it bone-tired
the way they could drag their hollow
through office buildings and infinite
corridors that led always to more work

now that our elders are leaving   who will
teach us what to call this new feeling?
the bereavement that comes after we’ve
already lost too much and the next

exhaustion that follows the last, and
what will we call centuries of the same
with a promise of more, what will we
name the feeling of freedom slipping

through our fingers?     I wake up in the
morning, my body already done in, I cannot
coax words from a still place or sense
from all of this disaster     I can hardly taste

tomorrow’s dreams on the breath of yesterday
and    what am I supposed to call this river that
will not cease          how do I harness this anger
that wants to sink my body like an

abandoned ship?   Could we still call this a
beginning? a deep breath before a long race?
another and another and another chance
to prove our humanity to whoever it is that is

watching? call it a miracle        if you have to
to survive call it unprecedented         call it the last stand
the final    say resilience    with a straight face           and
then wake up tomorrow     and do it again

This poem “a mouth full of useless words” originally appeared in Emerging Scholars, Redux Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 242 (2020): 17-18.

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