Syntax Issue 10
Denver Syntax
{when i speak of life}
  adrian s. potter

The hustler posted in the alley selling dope
has a tattooed tear that swears life
will continue to be what it has always been:
a playground for people trying to get away
with whatever they can behind God’s back.

But when I speak of life
I mention inspiration and confusion from one mouth.
I am a split personality spitting out bullets and bible verses,
discovering how bloodshed can beget beauty,
confusing intentions with actions,
simultaneously chasing a dream while living a nightmare.

When I speak of life
I identify the foundation of humanity’s complex existence,
the combined fury of a millennium of doubt,
the compulsion to replicate evil and good
depending on context,
the truth of a chillingly devised system
designed so one hand can wash blood from another
without consequence or guilt.

I continue to walk these streets
of filth, trash, and abandoned aspirations.
I witness people whose spirits have gone missing
long before their bodies are placed in caskets.
I shoplift hopes and dumpster dive for dreams
and recognize that survival lurks within our shadows.

This is the vicious world that we attempt to endure,
whether drunk or sober, simple-minded or level-headed,
marching forward with rifles aimed at our backs
and a million pounds of pressure on our shoulders,
waiting for yesterday’s sorrows to die
so that today’s blessings can blossom
and tomorrow’s sacrifices can somehow save our souls.