Jon Medders

The Opposite of Pretend


One-upmanship (n):   
A ship less likely to sink,
protected by a gunman, 
eyes from the tower ready not 
to see but to find, capture, own, 
defend. You know why the dictator 
never stopped to think whether 
killing in the name of helping 
might sound a little silly?
Because he, deep in the warm 
belly of the ship 
mistakes darkness 
and rumblings of ocean
for the contents  
of his own wounded mind. 


Once there lived a boy 
who sang songs
to dead insects,
envisioned little
beetlesouls, beesouls,
even creeping spidersouls, 
at night searching
through space, flying
to stars, merging with light.

Then, one Sunday morning
in a room in a church, a grown-up,
one of these who doesn't think
in terms of words as creators
or destroyers of whole worlds, 
whispered quietly, firmly, to the boy: 
"It is a sin to say that animals
go to Heaven.  That makes God sad."

The parents soon puzzled over
why the boy had taken so suddenly
to spells of shyness, seldom smiling,
mostly spending afternoons alone
searching with still, wary eyes, 
through the same bug collection 
that had once sparked in him, 
such brilliant, boundless light.


Again, I am drawn 
toward the opposite 
of what is pretend, 
again to what 
was true before
they got to me.  

—Jon Medders

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