• Kerry D. Krauss

Broken, Like

A broken rhyme from a broken line,

like a broken train of thought,

fragmented stream of consciousness stuttering along stop after stop after stop.

Like our broken humanity,

an unbroken, unchained melody sung

generation to generation to generation.

Broken words, broken vows, broken covenants, broken commandments spill over

Like broken walls wanting mending,

like Frost’s neighbor, making good neighbors.

Setting the wall between us once again

only to find it as capricious as our broken promises

stealing the unbroken plain and prairie,

breaking the backs of slave, native, immigrant and other.

Broken lives litter the streets

like cars broken down along the highway:

Lights flashing,

rain falling,

steam billowing,

engine chunking,

panic-breathing helplessness.

Like people broken down:

Tears falling,

thoughts billowing,

words choking,

red-faced and wild-eyed helplessness.

Like the girl in the cemetery that day,

her teeth broken, bleeding and crying fiercely.

Her brother’s guilty panic searching for water,

repeating, ‘it’s not that bad, it’s not that bad.’

It was.

Like Jason’s broken arm.

Sitting in the doctor’s office,

loopy from pain meds telling me that he can hear the two pieces of his

humerus rubbing together.

Like broken tectonic plates

pushing and pulling like school yard bullies,

making weal and creating woe,

leaving streets and bridges and china cabinets tossed like broken toys in a

child’s bedroom.

Like my grandmother’s broken ceramic Christmas tree,

shaken and stirred all the way from Pennsylvania.

The broken pieces still encrypted in the cardboard box it arrived in,

a box of broken emptiness and desolation.

Like the broken facades of our broken boyhood homes,

like Eric’s,

like Pat’s,

like Chris’

and later mine, too.

The appearance of allrightness,

the stigma of brokenness gone by then,

but the stigmata of brokenness remaining.

Like a body broken,

like blood shed for you and for many.

Like a broken spirit

the day Ginnie died

or Kay

or Bo

or Jeff.

The choked words.

The broken thoughts and emotions.

The long days of long pauses and long shadows

and the terror of nothingness.

The broken ground yawning

like THAT day

when morning had broken,

like the first morning,

a broken stone rolled away from an empty tomb,

a broken body risen with resurrected purpose

for broken rhymes,

for broken worlds,

for broken walls and promises,

for broken cars and people,

for broken teeth and arms,

for broken homes, bodies and spirits.

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