Stan Sanvel Rubin
from RSR Featured Photography © by Tammy Ruggles
Another bitter lesson
among the ones I learned
is that the inhabitants of Earth
cannot be trusted
to find their way
without hurting themselves
or doing harm to others.
When they think they’re free,
they are loose as hailstones
bouncing off whatever
gets in the way.
When they feel trapped,
This isn’t just some of the time.
They are reckless as cows
behind barbed wire
who want out and will follow
any leader who leads them.
They are desperate as a calf
taken from its mother
fed nettles and water instead of milk
and led to slaughter
still trying to kiss the fingers
of the hand that puts it on the truck.
Possibly you think
this is not a lesson.
Notes On Apocalypse
The final struggle with the deceivers
takes place every minute of every day
inside your own four-sided heart.
This is not as easy as it sounds.
Dark winds echo loud as bells
in the tower you’re trapped in
with no ladder. If you try
to go down sheer rock, you can’t
find a finger hold. You’re dizzy.
If you try to go up, you will fall.
The only choice is persistence.
Your fingers break, your eyes bleed
as if they see something invisible.
It’s actually even harder than that.
Nietzsche knew the force of desire is autonomous
like top dogs in Greek myths
who pretty much do what they want to
and do it without remorse.
The 24/7 network of evil
is mapped by the veins in your body.
Your blood drowns cities.
You are happier when you’re not thinking of this.
Salvation comes only after cataclysmic invasions,
struggles, every nightmare insanely true.
You can’t stop it.
You just have to muddle through
until you drop, exhausted,
finally past temptation, at last resting
in a burnt-out landscape you secretly dreamed of
––or ride the dizzying cloverleaf highway
to Hell on a soul bright as a Porsche.
After the end, we will be nude as a universe
without planets, without stars, without light or dark,
which is what ours will be, the despair drained from it.
They won’t be playing baseball then, or love. There will be
nothingness instead of us, no fingers to touch skin, no memory
of the left-behind-everything that dies each time we fight.
What is apocalypse if not a promise kept?
Heat death, a hellish end devoid of pain or fire,
where zombies or androids remarkably like us
couldn’t save themselves and didn’t care,
the way we seemed once to care for everything,
balancing our pain against our words or letting both
flame headlong like comets with world-consuming tails.
We saw it coming. We are doing it now.
Stan Sanvel Rubin’s work has appeared most recently in Poetry Northwest, The National Poetry Review, and The Laurel Review. His fourth full-length collection, There. Here., was published by Lost Horse Press (2013). He lives on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state.