If I had lived 100 years ago,

I would have been dead in 10;

Plucked away to fight in some

foreign war in a land that,

if people squinted at me to

blur the colors in my face,

they would swear was my own,

or perhaps eaten away from

the inside by disease that

festered beneath the glowing

lights of modern cities.

But I don’t live 100 years ago,

I live now in a time that is

marked by an undulating world;

a world that I rarely see despite

being so “worldly” as to have

traveled beyond the imagined

borders of where I was born.

I sit in my apartment and

exist unremarkably– surrounded

in a prison of faded roses

on brown wallpaper, as if

the vines died first and left

the roses only slightly withered.

I hear the echoes in my mind,

the echoes that remind me of

just how empty things are

not only without but within.

I wear my unpressed slacks

with unclean shirts and

hastily tied ties before scuttling

out the door in torn boots

sewed up like the crown

of Frankenstein’s monster.

Soon I will leave this place,

this bizarre world I have

called me home for such a

brief blink of reality, this

place where I never speak

and am seldom spoken to,

where I find and lose purpose

more often than most

lose their keys, where

everything you think about

becomes juxtaposed with

something you never imagined.

A snowy realm of confused

symbols and spit-laden walks,

of strong horsemen and

women impervious to the cold,

blue skies and a sun that

never quite reaches its apex,

of Russian letters that

no Russian learns or speaks,

tents and bricks and wooden shacks.

The echoes go on forever,

heard by the birds and the dogs,

the wolves lurking in the trees

of the north and the camels

in the south, until dust storms

dull the vibrations and sink

your memories, your city,

and everything else into

a temporary oblivion.

The echoes you hear within

that soar from you without.

Composed 01/26/14

Author’s Note: Well, here I am. 27 years old and writing poems about the impending end of my Peace Corps service.


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