One Hundred Thousand Griefs | Robert Priest

For Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion
A hundred thousand stars
break over the world
Someone so forever
has gone

A hundred thousand tears
A hundred thousand medical documents burning
A hundred thousand winds bearing away useless smoke
but that voice lives
It leaps the flames 
transcends the page
Robert Priest listening intently
100 Thousand Poets for Change
World Conference, Salerno
©2015 Michael Dickel
Bad medicine didn't stop it
this voice that drew us in
brought us face to face
language to language
He and his beloved
centering a wheel
with a hundred thousand spokes
We came from all around the globe to you
Many threads pulled into one cloth
a garment for change
but now having organized the bards  
you are called
to align the stars
leaving at our centre
a beloved space
sacred with absence

But earth will not be silent
one hundred thousand memories
will guard will amplify what you have left
The shouts that shook Salerno
will shout even louder now 
against the deadlock the gridlocks
of injustice

How dare death take you so soon
How dare grief 
colonize so many throats
wring so many hands

Those lungs that took in life
and bellowed out poetry
that turned air into love
how dare they fail you
feeding aquifer and ocean
with tears
that should have been hallelujahs

©2022 Robert Priest
All rights reserved

Robert Priest…

…is literary poet in the tradition of Neruda and Mayakovsky, a composer of lush love poems, a singer-songwriter, a widely quoted aphorist, a children’s poet and novelist. He is a mainstay of the literary/spoken word/music circuit both in Canada and abroad. His words have been quoted in the Farmer’s Almanac, debated in the Ontario Legislature, sung on Sesame Street, posted in Toronto’s transit system, broadcast on MuchMusic, released on numerous CDs, quoted by politicians, and widely published in textbooks and anthologies.


Be inspired… Be creative… Be peace… Be

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