[March 13, 2012: As the prompt I read an excerpt from C.E. Morgan’s novel, All the Living. This novel contains the real pain of being alive on earth, the small ways we all must suffer in our daily life and in our relationships to one another. It is a beautiful book, despite or because of its sorrow. It begins with this quote from Ecclesiastes that really struck a lot of the people in the workshop:
This is an evil in all that happens under the sun, that the same fate comes to everyone. Moreover, the hearts of all are full of evil; madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead. But whoever is joined with all the living has hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion.
—- Ecclesiastes 9:3]
All the Living
— by Mary
All is black at any
Given Moment of the Night
but scratch – A sound
erupts Furiously soft and sharp
of a moth’s
wings increasingly fast to FRENZY
All because Another soul’s
Agony insists on visibility
Must we all see the Feathering
curl of toasted moth wings – Against
the white bulb’s heat
Artemis leave your wars past
Allow the peace of darkness
time to heal
in Repair for
the glory of
x x x
Justify the Anger
if one can
realize whatever point
Already sealed in my the mask
lost skin –
young death and
of grassy greenish blue
whitened chips of Fallen
Trees give way –
Small eggs brown and blue
All the Living
— by Matt
I’m sick and tired of talking about death.
Why don’t we give more credibility to
If life sucks so bad, why do people
treat it as if it were the only thing
to which they were clinging.
Solomon also said, “I saw the dead,
and congratulated them.”
This might be true, but I’ve never so
much wanted to cling to life as I do
I once knew a grave digger, and I
envied him more than anyone I knew.
Why, if life is so important, do we
treat the dead as if they’re running
They say if you’re an alcoholic, all you’ll
ever need is a Big Book and Black suit.
C’mon, Lighten up. Life isn’t that bad.
I once had a History teach who said
she had her bullshit meter pushed up to
Why, then, are there so many people
running around sad.
And why is there so much fighting.
I think “Peace, Mother Fucker” is the most
profound thing anybody ever said to me.
If life is so precious, why do we fight
like there’s nothing better to do with our
And why do we watch so much crap
If I never see another rerun of
“Law and Order,” I’ll be truly satisfied.
And why if life is so precious have we
devised so many clever ways to kill ourselves?
I used to believe in mandatory vasectomies
for some people.
In some way, I still do.
If life is so bad, why can’t you just
end it, and leave the rest of us the
I think I’ll do whatever it takes to be
kind to animals today.
All the Living
— by Courtney
He is in the garden. Working like an ox, though I’ve never seen one.
He doesn’t stop even for a drink of water.
“When I’m done digging this section,” he says.
I don’t know how we haven’t killed each other,
All this strength inside, made acidic by the fury of circumstance.
Our grip on our childhood arms have stopped us.
(Hitting is wrong and words are right.
But these words aren’t right.)
To assuage the animal, to transport the pain,
he digs. He digs
until his face is calm and his muscles uncalm,
trembling like a dog in thunder.
This is his garden. It is soil he fights for,
this square of soil that he fills with basil now.
The basil tells me what home smells like.
When hitting is wrong and words are wrong
there are the smells that right me.
Cedar pencil box husband,
Rosie’s flowering shampoos,
Rosie’s mother’s detergent on Rosie’s clothes,
Genovese basil juicing in my fist.
Somewhere in Illinois
To all the living
Somewhere in Illinois farmland
Down swaths cut
In thick Midwestern dirt
Great clumps of it stick to my boots
Heavy, the bulk of it making
Me wish I were dead
And think if Dick Nixon
A man whose death I laughed at
Firmly planting my feet in hell
No, I’m not coming back
Buried here as I am in Illinois