Outside, in the streets of this city, in the fields of this country, in the hearts of our citizens, they are lighting fires, they carry their gas and their torches, they are wearing their masks, they are wearing their uniforms and they are carrying their shields, they are painting people with the brushes of their choosing and they are calling them enemy. The flames roar over long-dead tinder, old threats and grievances dug up, taken down from the attic, where they had sat long forgotten, and they come with their fires to burn all that we have built, and the air fills with smoke and ash, and the skies are lit dirty red and orange. They are coming.
And in here, we sing, a bunch of lost kids, outcasts and freaks, discarded and unwanted, ragged and patched together, taped up, stitched. In here we turn our faces to the ceiling and we sing.
Because we are True Believers.
Someday, they will come for us. Someday, because we shout our defiance to those suits and devils. We will not kneel, we will not agree, we will not acquiesce or stay quiet. We will burn too, eventually, the fires are already lit, our world will burn, the world will burn, the world will burn, and they will come for you too, with their torches, with their masks. We will go, eventually, but it will not be quietly.
Sing goddamn you. Sing. Throw your arms around those you love, and sing.
I throw my head back and I sing along with all the songs I know, sing until my voice cracks and then breaks entirely. I am tired, of course, because I am always, always, tired. I am frustrated, of course, because that, too, seems to be the default state of a man who has too much ambition and too little energy and too little time. I jump my portly old body in the air, I throw my arm around strangers and sing until my heart feels empty and everything drops away, my absent success, my unrealized potential, my newfound cynicism, my gradual but inevitable decline, it all drops off and the weight that has been piled on, the uncertainty, the doubt, the fucking weight, the fucking weight that we carry with us, the worry and confusion and disappointment, it all lands gently on our shoulders like falling ash, and it will keep falling until we do something that makes us feel alive, that makes us hope, that makes us feel less alone in this goddamn fucking shitshow world, this deeply disappointing country, this endlessly demanding life. I sing with those other lost souls there in the flashing and sweaty darkness, we all throw our voices to the sky and we howl, we shake off the accumulated ash of our burning world, and for a brief moment, nothing else matters.
I am a true believer. I didn’t know that I still was, I thought that maybe that spark had died, snuffed under the weight of the falling ash. I thought that maybe, as the world burned, I would crumble, I would collapse. But even as I am buried in the ash of our burning world, even as it fills my lungs, even as it turns the blood in my veins to concrete, I will raise my fist and I will shout my defiance, even as my knees shake and buckle, even when I can no longer lift my head, I will raise my fist. I will not kneel to those that want to see the world burn; I will fight. When they come, and they will come for those that will not stay quiet, I will sing. I will lock arms with those that I love and I will sing.
Because I am a true believer.
Now sing, goddamn you.
Sing until we burn.
I am kinda-sorta back on Twitter @RDPullins, but I have abandoned Facebook altogether. Read and review my book Antiartists if you haven’t already.
But above all, do not stay silent. Peace.