2015 American Voices Nominee: Jack Braun

how to kiss death

by Jack Braun, 7th Grade, Rodeph Sholom & Writopia

2015 Gold Key/American Voices Nominee

(Image Credit: Death of the Unknown by Edgar Barrios, 2015 Gold Key, Drawing & Illustration, 12th Grade, High School of Art & Design)

I don’t believe in
History class for the same reason
I don’t believe in

maybe, just
maybe if I don’t believe
in it,
it will go away.
maybe, just
maybe if I don’t think about
it will

History class,
that is.
ghosts will always linger
somewhere. everyone
knows that.

it’s not that I don’t
it’s just that I don’t…
fine,  I don’t like History class
there. I said it. quote me.
it’s not the teacher or the homework.
(I mean, I get As and B+s)
I study! I have fun!

but how do you
believe in something that
you don’t know it positively happened?
yes, evidenceblahblahblah,
but I wasn’t there!
(fine, I’m a narcissist.)

and we don’t know it happened!
like we don’t
KNOW that ghosts
really exist!

History and ghosts.
two things that go well together:
put in some
Genocide, one cup of
Evil, a teaspoon of
Heroism, a pinch of
War with some sugar on top,
Sugar that tastes like blood.

Because that
History is.
Genocide and Evil (a bit of heroism) and War and Sugary Blood.
and, like Halloween,
Death and ghosts come out
of the shadows
in the night.
but mostly death and
I wish there was a book
in the library, called:
How to Kiss Death

and I wish this because most people don’t
understand why they die.
it’s because they won’t accept Death,
because they don’t want to become just another
spot on the map of History

page one:

there’s no going back,
but once you go back you’re on Death’s list.
suddenly, swiftly, Death will attack.
and then, big and bolded, chapter one: How to Kiss

you should wait in the shadows
until Death comes, pitying you,
and you cry from your sore mouth
and bleeding lips and broken heart,
Death will cease your fears and your worries and
Death will Kiss you and all of your dreams will come true and
Death will help you and hurt you and make you better than you ever were and
Death will kill you but it will be worth it and
Death will Kiss you with its salty lips until
Death sucks all of the pain out of you,
Death stops the crying and reverses the clock and
Death will help you-
and then I closed
the book

because, well, Death?!
No one wants to think about Death!

(oh, but, like, sorry if you’re maybe thinking about death right now…?)

and if I don’t think about it,
maybe, maybe it will go away,
Death might sneak back to the dusty corner
it came from, and it might go back from where it came from,
Death might retreat from History and History might not
be full of ghosts and ghosts
might Kiss Death back–

but I don’t think about those things,
it’s bad to think about– or is it?

is it bad to plan your future,
to remember your past, to acknowledge
the dead who
Kissed Death back

yes, it is bad,

maybe, just
maybe if I don’t believe
in it,
it will go away.
maybe, just
maybe if I don’t think about
it will

it is good to delve in,
for another bite,
another lesson,
another Kiss.
I open the book;
Chapter two:

Don’t Resist.

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