Breakdown Precedes Breakthrough

by Mark Chmiel

Graham earned enough to be under the taxable limit
Because he didn’t want to pay for war

He couldn’t say “No” when someone asked
“Would you help us fight back?”

He gave and gave and gave some more
Rarely drank, but smoked like it was the 50s

He said his “career” was resistance
He said he’d been arrested 17 times

His world was often crowds, noise, speed
A friend told him to take a day off

“But the poor and the Muslims can’t take a day off”
And he kept on going

After years of daily effort and exertion
On local, national, and global issues

He looked at himself in the mirror and wondered
“Who the fuck is that stranger?”

And crawled back into bed
And stayed there for a couple of days

No internet no news no phone
Just silence

No going from one meeting to the next
Only stillness

No mind racing about the next downtown confrontation
Merely mind slowing down

He realized: Something inside
Was already dead

He realized: He hadn’t
Smiled in months

He realized: The next thing to do—
Contact Carla Nguyen

–from work-in-progress, Our Heroic and Ceaseless 24/7 Struggle against Tsuris

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