Life on the Edge

William Goresko 1951 (Philadelphia, PA) – 2008 (Willow Grove, PA)

Billions of iridescent butterflies
Softly thrash the air, turning the noon sky
To dusk, slowly falling,
Like fat snow flakes,
Thickly blanketing the land
Under a layer of rustling parchment.

Hatchlings lie on their sides,
Still and alone, mouths frozen wide,
Large, dark eyes, sealed
By gossamer films of skin,
Blindly staring up
Through branches at the sky.

The cougar and the wolf that roamed
Across mesas and through forests
Hunting others long since gone,
Have themselves
Become shadows and memories
Slipping away with each setting sun.

First as lakes, then as rivers
Flowing through arteries into the sea
At whose breasts we suckle,
Waters which once were home
To dense schools of fish
Are now poisoned and bear bitter fruit.

What is this strange and silent spring
Where leaves turn mottled and brown
And flowers shrivel and die,
Where the air hangs heavy and dank
With a suffocating smell
And stars burn dim in the sky?

Here we sit in air-conditioned boxes
Within smoking towers of glass and steel
Torn from raw gouges in the ground,
Asking one another
Why these fierce and endless summers,
While in all directions
Our hissing machines
Dart to and fro
Spewing gaseous excretions
And our erstwhile leaders
Tell us to be calm,
They need more evidence
That the end is near.

We are indifferent caretakers
Asleep at the wheel,
Driving along dark cliffs,
A step behind the many
We've forced over the edge
Who lie broken
And extinguished

On this tiny beacon, we hurtle through empty space.
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Submitted by cuwoodford on June 01, 2021

Modified on March 05, 2023

1:16 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic trimeter
Characters 1,447
Words 255
Stanzas 8
Stanza Lengths 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 13, 8, 1

William Goresko

William Goresko was an avid landscape photographer, a lover of backpacking and the outdoors, a voracious reader of classical literature and ardent fan of classical music as well as 60s rock and folk music. He also loved cooking and watching Sixers basketball games. He was a floor sander by trade. In 1984 at age 32 he was rendered quadriplegic in a car accident and lived for 24 more years. He retained his love of life and had a strong will to live. All poems were written a few years after the accident, typed one letter at a time, using a sip and puff device. Poems were submitted by his wife Cheryl. more…

All William Goresko poems | William Goresko Books

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