Two Billion Heartbeats


The island I live on is sinking and no one is doing a thing.

Every morning rises one minute earlier than the last

minute earlier, still I heave to

red skies and lumber outside

of my sleeping-shack and gaze

at the scissors of silver

cutting closer and closer

the sheer golden thigh of my

slivered gold beach until they bite

at my toes and the soft underparts of my

house which trembles

more and more each day

waiting for the pitch to arrive that will shatter

the glass. But because disaster is still hanging over

and not beneath

us, we stand and look

at the sea

like you look at your thirteen-year-old daughter

like nothing is different, like your metal detectors don’t recognize

the slice of red beneath the eye,

like you drive her and drop her

at school every day and let the tide

traffic your hours back.

They say

we are born with two billion heartbeats

to spend as we wish.

Fall in love and tumble

uphill and feel the edge

of a cliff and heaven kissing inside

your heart

and you condemn yourself to an early death.

But, build yourself a windowless tower and sit watching cooking shows hour by hour

and you will enjoy a plentitude of years

each gray as dishwater, six feet shallower.

Every heartbeat closer than the next.

In the red morning I cannot cry

as I watch the grand boulders that were my thighs

collapse under the acid chains of foam

as I feel the body

I am inside

sinking heavier beneath two billion unmarked stones

As I take another bite of oatmeal, another sip of sky,

Gazing into those bitter-salt red-rimmed eyes

Seeing nothing important.


Image credits in order of appearance:

By Makemake at the German language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0,

By Alejandra Edwards – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,


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