2014 String Poet Prize 2nd Place

Whether we acknowledge them or do not
they are there, the anniversaries of
the birthdays and the deathdays of the dead,
a calendar not ordinarily
celebrated, a tide, or undertow.
Hardest: grief for those who wanted to die.
Their birthdays, more than deathdays, taste of salt,
of fury, of waste, unforgettably
also of love (she would have been my age
today; I am something she could have been).
It is as if their anniversaries
dislocate them, who strove to be misplaced.
They, more than others who went unwilling,
whose remembrance brings different pain, whose
wants destroyed something of us, making us
when we pulled or tried to against such blank
brinks toward less exorbitant vistas turn,
failing, from them—they mark our journeys
now, not our calendars, like neon
after brightness goes, flaring absently,
stinging our eyes, whether open or closed.

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