Lines Too Lonely to Find their Poem

An Election Year Confession from the Lost Percent

In the shadow of the table of the feast of living,
we can’t even ask for the salt.
No one will hear us.

Salt isn’t good for us anyway.


I have plenty of room on that bench for my hat.
No one is near me.

The soft touch of a warm hand might awaken the heartbeat
I have learned never to dance to.


I do not have to earn anyone’s respect.

If I am noticed at all it is to hear behind my back in clanging noise
that is irresistible to my longing
for the painful music of words,
that I do not need respect.

Respect might inflate what is left of the fading lorn shadow
of pride that I never learned to deserve.


So I am done with the bell and music of the skeletal voice
I have stumbled toward at the bankrupt edges of a long life.

I am invited to fade from the illusion of life I was wrong to think
had been advanced to my fair account.


We stand behind the unwashable glass of our race,
or we lie on the consciousness of angry bedsores,
or sit in the shadow of the doorway to shadow,
sprawl in the cosmic fuzz of drugs, drink,
the contorted succor of delirium.


If we were ever cursed by visibility we might be allowed to believe
that we chose this candle-end of life.

We beg ourselves to allow that our colors are no one’s fault but our own.
It is our sign to the attentive world that we prefer
to be thrust aside.


The bed, the wheelchair,
the isolated kingdom of an ill-featured mind
locked within the broken doll of a soul.

Or the broken tendrils of the otherness of love
requited by beatings and public infamy.

All our fault and our doing or our parents’
or the cold inevitable caress of genetics.


We should declare this loneliness to be a blessed state.

We are relieved of the perils of responsibility,
the anguish of fulfilling grief,
the public discomforts of wisdom,
the creative pain of love.

And the silence we have earned instead is the silence
of the affliction of age,
of angry and speechless dotage,
the improvident wisdom of senility.


Still, my collaborative heart will pound beyond its time,
beyond the decay of senses,
the feast of living.

The abandoned heart thrums in silent bloodless spasms.

The shadow of immortality shuffles like another disease,
leprous and sacred

infusing for the wealthy of nations its holy meal
of my unmarked
lime-salted corpse
or raw ash for desert and dessert.

Richard Fenton Sederstrom was raised and lives in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and the North Woods of Minnesota. Sederstrom is the author of seven books of poetry, his newest book, Icarus Rising, Misadventures in Ascension, published by Jackpine Writers' Bloc, was released last winter. Read other articles by Richard Fenton.