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Pushcart Prize Nominee

Nicholas Barnes

charon's obol

either god’s not real, or he’s impotent. the holy self-immolate on vietnamese streets and the wicked live in châteaus of ill-gotten gains. life’s default recipe is rife with ugly: 3/4 misery, 1/4 true happiness. utopia is so rare and hard to find. it’s been said, it rests on a george washington bed. under ridged copper and nickel clad linens, hidden somewhere among these 540 sextillion miles. chaotic decay is the only cradle in our earth nursery, our collapsing mother temple in time. faced with this dreadful trumpet, this liberating cataclysm, some take to a victoria or iguazú falls churning. and others strike up a dusty, flatlining hospital scene. in doubting hours, i’m reminded of an absent father. of the 7 wonders and a side order of toast. of the ustaše and the holodomor; rwanda and east timor. then it’s no elohim again. the uniformity of fibonacci ammonites returns to a coincidental genesis. so drink the dregs, whistle like a songbird in the latrine, smoke past the label, swallow the banana peel. there are no rules. use your tongue as a supercell umbrella atop the chrysler building. throw paper planes in sunday mass. but no red jerrycans and orange robes. stay away, dollar sign eyeballs. tomorrow morning, it’s a flip of the coin. so get it while you can, boys. cause i suspect heaven is a pipe dream, a grief pacifier. and all we know is not that much.

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