Only the Free Man Knows He’s a Slave


I was singing, “Don’t Need a Reason till It’s Over.” I was out of place and I was
I was accosted by a vicious citizen, but I began dancing and it scared him.
I wouldn’t call him portly and diminutive.
Did this make me feel like I had just witnessed an animal hit by a car get up and
limp into the darkness? No, it did not.
This, of course, means I should live my life, but the rest of my life’s not here right
now, it’s impossible, just impossible.
I keep on dancing.
Oh who id dat Joe wid da sloppy floppy grin grin grin?
That’s when something incongruous like blue cement ignites a cry of joy. Yes
indeed a cry of joy. Truly. I’m not lying about it.
But the kingdom I came from is no longer quite so bright and welcoming, no
longer lost, in that place where it could be perfected. Only the earth-shattering spike of
some unnameable plant says what needs to be said.
And you listen. And you sing. And you begin a great refund of energy.
Is this what you wanted to be?
It’s like that painting: Pugilist Questioning the Lagoon. I was no longer gesturing
to illusionary supplicants. I knew what I wanted to do. I went outside to refresh myself
but I can’t say I succeeded. I left something. I came away with less.
I wanted to believe I had made a contribution. That I had donated. But I was out of
place and ecstatic and no longer accosted.
So I danced. And then I danced some more. My freedom depended upon it.

Rich Ives is the author of Tunneling to the Moon: A Psychological Gardener’s Book of Days currently being published in serial @ Silenced Press everyday in 2014 and forthcoming in paperback. Begin from the beginning, catch up, read daily. Just refer to the Burrow Guide.