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Absence / Siren

By Dylan R. Ragas, Crimson Staff Writer

Absence

Before you were the body with the medicine you were
decomposing (composed), crusted gelatin in the sun.
Before you were hunter/hunted, a rounded rodent in a liminal
forest, you cried and your wail sounded animalistic.
You threaded wires through your fingers, ate sunflower seeds
from clouded plastic bags, pet a blonde dog, swallowed a clear
pink bead. Lucy is in the Sky with Diamonds as long as your cousin
plays the right colored notes on Guitar Hero. Years down the line,
you will profess your love for the eighties on a cobbled street
in Antigua, you will learn that it was all about drugs, all of it.
Oh, how you’ll freeze for a moment, despite your being too old
to be scared by psychedelics. There’s a flutter of hands as the people
who you claim don’t know you flock to your aid. Faces in a gray,
hazy dark. You are crumpled, hard and unyielding flesh
on a faux-tiled floor. Then sound is minced out of you
at the river, early in the night-morning, while a man with a guitar
walks by. You thought he’d clock your pain. Write a ballad, write
something. It is always you who writes. You whose voice floats
into the river like a light boat that still observes gravity. Plunks silently
into the glass water. Soars downstream.

Siren

In another life you will not know hurt. The warmth
that accompanies the SUV in the graveyard at night,
where the little girls play soccer and repress thoughts
of killing each other, next to the playground for the kids
with learning disabilities, with the human-sized doll house
where you grazed your head on the ceiling and felt tall.
There was a moment when you thought you could be
beautiful and it made you cry ugly tears. October reels around
again like a rogue useless tape, its colors are getting sharp
with repetition, now, you squint, you picture your face, squinting.
It is another year and the worst part is
you no longer want the love that got you here.
Gutless and hungry, you feel yourself morph and
walk along the hard-packed sand where ocean should be.
A white chemical complex sits heavy in the distance,
the boy beside you feels like a hard-won bullet point
checked off on the refrigerator to-do list. You breathe purple air.
In Dublin, you watered down vodka, punched a fist
to a nationalist banjo, just to fit in. For a moment you wanted
so desperately to be the rogue teen you never were. In Dublin
you hated Joyce, you had no words to describe your hatred
for Joyce. On the sandy coast, you remembered that all coasts
look the same. Breathlessly lousy homes mounted like oversized
doll houses. If there is no free will you don’t want it.
If there is no free will, well—it all comes down to luck, then, doesn’t it?

—Dylan R. Ragas ’26’s column, “Yard Sale Organs,” is a collection of poems that attempt to make sense of a past — real, imagined, but mostly somewhere in between.

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