The initial separation is the hardest thing.

The tearing away from flesh, bone, and old habits.

corrosion of loss clots in my still unformed wings.

Somewhere a woman’s kiss lingers in my ghostly remains of memory.

The kiss smells of gardenia.

At least I can remember that much.

Remember that much of my life.

Even in death there will be these things I will always remember.

I will never die of forgetting.

As I rise, I twist in the wind.

Second-sight staggering behind, as I look down to witness the one I once was.

The one now crumpled alongside a lonely desert road.


Heaped and fouled in a pool of blood, I have a voice answering only to carrion.

It is only now that I want to erase my name.

Completely turn myself inside out until I resemble the morphine serenity of dreamed-upon clouds.


But no matter how hard I try, all I can do is float higher.

Brushing past bird wing and the sun’s roaming gold, a pained smile comes to my face.

This lightness, this gradual rising is almost too much for me to bear.

Though soon comes calm.

And with this calm, no more fear.

No more fear of death; all this breaking from blood, body and time.


Again I smell gardenia.

That woman’s kiss lingering somewhere in my ghostly remains of memory.

I am comforted to realize that at least I can remember that much.

Remember that much of


Even in death there will be these things I will always remember.

I will never die of forgetting.

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RICH FERGUSON has performed nationally, and has shared the stage with Patti Smith, Wanda Coleman, Exene Cervenka, T.C. Boyle, Jerry Stahl, Bob Holman, Loudon Wainwright, Ozomatli, and many other esteemed poets and musicians. He has performed on The Tonight Show, at the Redcat Theater in Disney Hall, the New York City International Fringe Festival, the Bowery Poetry Club, South by Southwest, the Santa Cruz Poetry Festival, Stephen Elliott’s Rumpus, and with UK-based poetry collective One Taste. He is also a featured performer in the film, What About Me? (the sequel to the double Grammy-nominated film 1 Giant Leap), featuring Michael Stipe, Michael Franti, k.d. lang, Krishna Das, and others. He has been published in the LA TIMES, Opium Magazine, has been widely anthologized, spotlighted on PBS (Egg: The Art Show), and was a winner in Opium Magazine’s Literary Death Match, LA. His spoken word/music videos have been featured at poetry film festivals throughout the world. Ferguson is a Pushcart-nominated poet, and a poetry editor at The Nervous Breakdown. His poetry collection 8th & Agony has been published by L.A.’s Punk Hostage Press.

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