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  • Writer's pictureAnthony Chase

A poem inspired by "Silence" at Torn Space

Raise You Up (In Three Parts)


Part One

When we pull into the parking lot of Silo City

we’re listening to Springsteen’s “Dancing

in the Dark” and I keep thinking how

there’s no sugar in our buildings anymore

no sweetness dripping from the windows

no hummingbird clouds hanging overhead

only the sounds of coughing and people

cracking at the seams

no live theater in five months, but here we are

SILENCE at Torn Space

it’s the end of July and the perfect summer night

clear sky and in just a couple hours

the moon and Jupiter will be playing catch with our eyes

the world is missing and we’re trying to find it again

think of it this way:

an optometrist closing shop due to Covid

imagine all the things they leave behind

like eye charts

and the letters – some big, some small – have nothing to do

because no one is looking at them anymore

so they escape from this invisibility

and float around our closed-off neighborhoods

trying to come together as one, to form words

and then sentences, to confront the silence

with the story of our times

doing whatever we can to make sense of this

and then there’s magic

or something close to it

when you shove anxiety to the side

and put on clothes

when you dig up your depression

just to kiss it goodbye

when you go outside

for what seems like the first time in years

Part Two

Before the show, we’re given specially made black masks

then we write our hopes or grievances

on pieces of cloth and drop them in a box

the visions we wish would go up in flames

I struggle with writing something transcendent

but end up writing, “Less pandemic, more poetry”

which is stupid and I’m disappointed in myself

then we follow this trail into a dusk lit field

where we sit on socially distanced tree stumps

a ritual of some kind is about to happen

the performers are also wearing face masks

and standing beside the old tree in the middle

there are wildflowers everywhere

and everything looks like a painting that catches fire

but will never crash into ash

anxiety in the air, but also hope

during the show, most of the performers are predictably silent

carrying rocks or seductions and wandering through the wildflowers

and tree stumps, sometimes they stop and just stare at us

and all we can do is stare back, maybe think about the last few months

how grief is a starving polar bear

that suddenly appears in your backyard one night

you two hit it off and go out looking for sushi but everything’s closed

you decide to sit tight somewhere and wait for the sun to come up

bellies growling like haunted houses wondering what it takes

for roots to regrow

during the show, there are hooligans in the background

playing with fog and painting our portraits, it’s like a bonfire

or silent movie learning what it takes to burst into color, we’ll never

get close enough to feel the heat and that’s okay, because we’ve had

enough combustion for right now, then suddenly we’re flanked by falconers

who start popping up out of the wildflowers, they let their birds fly free

but only for a moment, how beautiful though, when you’re finally

able to return home

eventually, a performer speaks and breaks through the calm

they recite our wishes or grievances we wrote on those pieces of cloth

merging them together so it sounds like one long prayer

and I can feel all the audience coming together as one

social distancing becoming more than just the space between us

our deepest desires are then set aflame before our very eyes

then as dusk begins to deteriorate, a painting gets hung from the tree

the show is over and it’s only been an hour, and I’m not totally sure

what I’ve seen, but it’s like the feeling I get when I’m done

with an A.A. meeting and I walk down their stairs and into the parking lot

and into my car and when I turn on the radio, whatever song is playing

it is the most beautiful song I’ve ever heard, something has let go

it doesn’t matter what

afterward, Carly and I pose by the big tree and Eric takes our picture

Part Three

At Duende for the after party and everyone is talking about

the stars in the sky, there’s Jupiter, there’s the moon

what a special night, there’s a door out in the field

connected to no building and two soccer nets ready for action

nobody kicks the ball around and that makes me sad

but it’s okay, because everybody’s just excited to be outside

for Buffalo to be quiet with noise, for art to still be happening

some of the hooligans are drunk, one of them is trying to lift the others up

while singing, “I wanna raise you up” then they all start harmonizing

and it’s like something straight out of the Bible, like the fun parts

where the apostles are dancing so hard and they’re sweating so much

and Jesus is just turning their puddles of sweat into wine and then everyone

just licks it off the floor and it’s like this endless cycle of getting drunk

off the fun you send into the world, it’s like reap what you sow and for a moment

we forget that martyrs have to exist or that there’s a war to win

and that we’re simply content with just being here right now


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