End of the Line

By Ivy Miller

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness
The clocks tick-tick-ticking in their heads in the rooms in the morning
Their breathing visible and quick as sweat trickled down the backs of their necks
The examination has begun
At once, the flurry of flipping papers starts to unwind them
No one is safe from the silence that follows
Every cough is cursed, every creak and crack—cursed!
Stuck on a wheel, unraveling as they run, thinking their way into a trap
It’s a trap! Don’t get caught
But you will not escape from the presence of judgement
The weight of it all is enough
Enough to bring you to your knees so hard they break
But it is your head that you worry about
Your head, which might implode, might dull over time or go dark all of a sudden
But forget that! You must carry on
Carry on with the crushing, crippling knowledge
That you worked so hard to get yourself where you are now and now you’re stuck
And the only escape is at the end of the line
The end of the line which you fear as much as you hate the line itself
But you carry on running on lead
Lead you believe can get you anywhere
Anywhere but here
Here where the empty people work in cages
Cages built by their own shredded hands
Hands that work on and on, moving the lead by which you survive
To your right someone loses their head and you wonder
Is their head really gone, or is yours?
You can no longer tell, so listen to me
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness
And yours was one of them