Story, Value, and Becoming More Real
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Anhedonia: A Psalm

January 22, 2024

Justin Lee Parker

The fire sirens woke you

And the drums:

The sounds of the parade

You walk the lanes of your carpeted small town,

A nexus of hallways

where your sandal thwaps announce:



For fear of loosing that monster,

Of losing the meter of 

concern that plays foster mother

to a lonesome coward,

You cut off his hand,

An offer to the idol you

carved out of prudence

To ward against the drownèd hogs

you could discern half-buried in the sand

a league offshore

Through a spyglass found 


on the outer balcony

Of the House of Mirth


You live on Main Street now,

Where it’s loud enough

Your beard is long enough to wave

to the passing crowd—

Dads mowing down

dancers with rattling ankles

Husbands and wives behind slightly cracked doors

Nurses-in-waiting from out-of-town

Crows honking out their ranks—

All to pull ‘gainst valley winds


The breath that blows, that blew,

Now conspires to fill you

That food smells like filth

Forgotten tattoo over tattoo,

Skin over skin, abused and renewed

That fiduciary contact, a fibrous



You walk the street like you’re

clearing a room

Every step, a packet of information

shouting “Cruelty for comfort” and 

Eschewing entanglement by

other cadaverous lexicon

You spot a conversation on the corner

where the ghosts of Goodnight-Loving ought 

to descend

It’s outsider talk 

And he does the hard work,

But you hold up your end


Some say the beautiful way

Is to sing of your suffering

The greater sadness prelude to the


and the minor to the great

Thus butterflies and snowfall correlate

from day to day

Like mirth and mourning, both

Houses wooden, a birth to

War and soundness, 

Warmth and warning…


Leave nursing at the breast of an

Undead mother 

You are not unlovèd

Your missing hand hangs waiting, still

From lowered branch, by silver thread

You placed it there, unfilled and unrememberèd

And while you watch in agony for sun

to succor you with moonlight’s skill,

Coaxing you to howl,

He oft disturbs the many for the one

Featured image is courtesy of Julie Jablonski and used with her kind permission for Cultivating.


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