dining on ashes



i see now why you run away,

i embody

misdirected passion,

showed you pleasure in sin,

the animal within, and

introduced you to who you really are.


symbolic of your weakness,

you would not bear witness

to one enslaved by dreams,

you would not be party to my honesty

because i touched and talked

to every eve that made me.


you choose gods simple with

half-truths and instant remedies.

you. are a nun.

you refrigerate with icy words and stairs

dry, unbaptized souls

and feed me ashes to atone.


and i have been tortured

as i have inflicted pain

i have slept like shit, cursed our bed

and will again,

slit my wrists to bleed you dry

now two steps removed and still alive.


you say, "lover, my eyes will not be raped,

i will not look upon opposite grace

i will force myself to selective see

my bête noire,

no scribbled prose or poetry

will undo what you have become to me."


you chant

"i will heal, i will embrace you but.

i will kiss, i will forgive you but.

i’m your soulmate, your confidant,

but you are weak where i am strong

you write to weep and i escape that psalm."


Then last night you whispered in my dreams

“somewhere i still love you.

i miss your incomplete, wicked lies,

your consuming passions and resulting lines,

i believe in your confusing gifts,

count your crows my beloved,

my first. my last. my only poet.”





Another break up poem, born from the same relationship as amnesty begins at midnight, dining on ashes is what I would call a defining work for me as a poet. I would say more time has been spent on this poem than any other I've written. Indeed, I did not consider dining on ashes finished until recently, and then as I was writing this post, I made a few more tweaks. Considering dining on ashes was started in 1999, that means this was a work in progress for over 20 years. Perhaps more changes will happen in the future.


There are a couple things that the reader may find of interest here: even though it is written in first-person, there are two distinct voices in the poem. Also, I think it is noteworthy that this poem is longer and more verbose than my usual fare; my minimalistic approach to poetry had not fully developed yet.


Poetry should be intimate and honest, and dining on ashes is that. I bared my soul in this poem and when I re-read it, I still find it somewhat emotional.



Joshua Wiebe

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