All Those Other Times
By: Ohan Hominis
A group of men sit in a room, each see a different group of men,
none see themselves as they are seen, but the room is full of expectation, and longing,
because they know that the men they came to see no longer exist,
and that they themselves contribute to the disappointment,
but they play their roles for the sake of the friends they used to have,
and for the friends of the men they used to be, and for the company.
We sit across from one another, speaking to versions of ourselves we think still exist.
And we tell stories of times that live in our minds, and of the men that used to own them,
when we were innocent enough to do things that weren’t innocent,
and the innocence we robbed from others sobered us to our guilt and left them ruined,
made us learn to be better people, while they withered and became bitter,
and we learned that the good did die young, and that it was us who killed them.
I sit among previous versions of myself whose hearts I’ve torn out. I carry their corpses with me,
looking to hang my failures on the limbs of the future so I can have something to label hope.
And as I wander men try to sell me versions of myself that look a lot like them,
next to other men trying to sell me versions of myself that they could never afford.
And I give them poetry praying they’ll buy a future on which I can hang my past,
but nobody does, and I’m left standing there among them, with my own ghosts for company.
The symbols I thrust onto my reality fail me, and I’m left labeling the labelers of my fears mad
so I don’t have to look at them. Occasionally a man tries to sell me his madness
and he calls my denial insane, and we’re left trying to piece together what we both believe
so we can name the space between us sanity. Neither of us concedes, and as we part ways
we’re left testing the ground with each step, because madness is everything we couldn’t agree on,
and we didn’t think to reconcile the ground, as we wander off to other times, alone.
Ohan Hominis is a poet, performer, and community organizer from NYC who currently lives in Sri Lanka. By trade an economist, Ohan currently works on growing Stageless Arts; a nonprofit dedicated to promoting free expression in communities. His first collection of poetry, Scattered Allegories, was published by Unsolicited Press in 2016.
“Essentially this poem is an attempt to make sense of the fact that we are always changing as human beings though our physical appearances are relatively static. The people we know greet us as though we are the same people every time, and we do the same to them, trapped in the fallacy that humans are static and one dimensional instead of dynamic averages of personas. So I thought it would be fun to provide the stanzas that I cut out because they encapsulate why I wrote the poem, which is why I felt they needed to go.
We sit around and converse in a way that avoids defining ourselves,
Instead defining what is experienced and define definition itself.
And we’re left with abstraction and a solitary search for meaning.
We try to rid ourselves of ourselves and are left with the people we’ve become,
filling in the spaces we carved out, then grappling with our new realities,
struggling to remember how to be people we tried to forget.
Some days my name is simply the obligation to be someone to someone else.
I come to loathe it and imagine an existence in which our realities are consolidated.
Meanwhile we attempt to explain ourselves in ways we think others will understand,
but no one is ever satisfied with the dialog, and both of our foundations are shaken.
Uncertainty shines through in moments when what scares us most is presented to us,
and we label the labelers of our fears mad so we don't have to look at them.
We try to make sense of what we see, but admit only part it to one another.
At the end of every string of logic is a knot tied around everything we don't talk about.
We work through the knots only to find we’re undoing our realities.
Then we’re left with logic that has no meaning, and an identity that has no purpose.
And we wander looking for places to tether ourselves,
But find that we’re no longer capable of tying knots, and we end up undone.”