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Algea, Algea

A poem by Jason Branch, sophomore Psychology Major


Old skin, with the strength of papyrus, binds spry musculature

Molded together with fragile tendon

Joints weary from years not lived, each pop of crumbling stone vertebrae

Betrays the absence of movement

A threadbare throat scratching at wise words

Swollen tongue tasting the sweet nectar of temporary relief

Eyes ambushed by fatigued folds, lips bitten and raw

Aching in the jaw, the elbows and knees, the everything in between

All of the spine sobbing its protests when the time comes to move

All of the drained reserves of energy, trickling empty like a battery

Wailing petulantly when the time comes to rest

How sublime it is, living in between life and death

The bitterness of a worn down form at war with the zest of youth

Tingling in the knuckles of knobby fingers and at the dips of smooth, brilliant temples

Migraines carving along the walls of bruised bone

Mind trapped inside the skull begging, “stop, stop!”

Is this what is left to grow into?

A lifetime of the same droning pulse, foreign to the mind

But present as the heartbeat

One unsated by remedies or cures

Just as blood flows through veins, it petrifies the nerves

Blessed realm of Hypnos only another transient repose

Algea, Algea

How acute is this malady

That is well known and still untreatable, that infects many denizens of this earth

Such a thing that could bring down even Achilles from his podium

Without the exploit gifted to him by the River Styx

One that grips warriors long gone from the fields of battle

Ambrosia is reserved for the gods, but can Asclepius not become indulgent with his alms?

Permit us the constitution to escape this burden

Algea, Algea

Is the cracking of nailbeds and thinning of hair a punishment for what we did as fools?

Ignorant to the sins of the world, not yet resistant

To the whispers of Kakia

What malady is this, which affects even the most noble of mortals

Those who have scarcely sinned and whose generosity is carved in the obelisks of history

Whose shades have long since reached Elysium, alongside their many accomplishments,

Exploits, victories, documented also their failures

Whether it be of their addled minds and bodies, or tactile shortcomings

Was it the wrath of Tyche, her sudden lapse in goodwill?

Or Nemesis’ retribution: karma to those whose hubris doomed them to Tartarus?

Algea, Algea

Can our aching souls free ourselves from Asphodel– can we not live in the warmth

Of Hestia’s fires, even in the shadows of our transgressions

Even among the cold tombs within the underworld

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