Stewart Moss

For Those Whose Lives Have Seen Themselves
June 21, 2018 Moss Stewart

For Those Whose Lives Have Seen Themselves

I am returning without you from the place
we went together.
– Sezen Arseven, survivor, Club Reina, Istanbul


Welcome all who have traveled the long road
from where your deepest dreams began
in the wild ferment of sleep,
or when profoundly drunk or stoned,
and walked out
with whatever heavy burdens you carried,
your thumb outstretched and maybe
your other hand taunting death with a sign saying,
“Beirut” or “Aleppo” or “Istanbul,”
looked at the reflection of yourself
in your lover’s Ray-bans and asked
what it meant to see the world
and break the bonds that held you
to a former life, if only you could name
the thick liquid in which you’d floated,
assured by the certainty of the next day
and all the days to come.
I remember in a cheap hotel in Amsterdam
where the pipes entered and returned
through wide, rough holes in the sheetrock,
watching a couple make love in the next room,
ashamed that I denied them
their privacy, their fumbling intimacy.
Perhaps they watched us too,
as we abandoned ourselves for a few moments
above the bustling canals
and in the cracked mirror bolted to the wall
opposite our bed. Who knows
what became of them? Or any of us
who are left in crummy hotel rooms
by those we desire,
or because of bullets shattering raucous dancers
in a nightclub. Sometimes clarity
only comes with loss,
for it tightens the skin
that binds us to our own silhouettes
and makes our shadows sharper, more distinct
in the sun, or disappear forever
in the darkening, unholy cities.

As the former Executive Director of The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland, one of the largest literary centers in the USA, Stewart Moss helped establish creative writing programs for adult immigrants, and members of the military being treated for neurological and psychological trauma. Moss has essays included in “Retire the Colors: Veterans & Civilians on Iraq & Afghanistan” (Hudson Whitman/Excelsior College Press, 2016) and Plume Literary Journal, and poetry in the spring ’16 edition of Origins Literary Review. He has also been featured in “The Poet and the Poem” podcasts at The Library of Congress. He was educated at Union College (NY) and Harvard University. A native of Boston, MA he resides in Annapolis, MD. His chapbook For Those Whose Lives Have Seen Themselves: Poems is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.