The o’seer of pain dresses in white, his fingers adorned with thorn’d rings, a garland of roses loose around his throat, and he teases a kiss of mercy. Well acquainted, he and I, with his mark purposed to tissue and bone. Look upon him close and his robe is stained, his stance unshamed, his hands filthy from his forge.
Torrent of blood charges the veins
loudly hungry meekly sated
Pulsing wet cheeks, a deliberate choir
of noise from dry-throated angels
Sculpt the air with restless fingers
praise and damn with swollen motions
Flat boxes of fiveses and sixeses
minuteses of sleep
wrapped with gray burlap readies to tear
bound by loopy stringses
This might as well be Mars, scarred and unrepentant, too distant to glow in heaven.
Our monuments to youth built with hurried hands, then toppled, then covered with sand.
Do you recall the worth of compassion, of rejoicing in our slaked passion?
No more, we say, no more.
And so we study upon the sky with our vainglorious trickster eyes,
our wisdom in cushioned layers, hurling shrill and jagged prayers,
standing alone, bare and barren,
with pleasures unfulfilled, and more monuments to build.
The bridge of each moment, still. Glass fragments of breath, of dance, of rest. The silence of fingertips and brief kisses, the warmth of mercy, a peaceable light. The moment, now, and the next begins.
Listen, please listen. You cannot hear my voice; I have none beyond the squelch and repetition that serve as memory. But think back: remember my eyes, my irregular climates, oh, how daring, and oh, how timid, so full of fear and fuck-it, by the drink and the contradictions. You will hear my voice if you listen, if you disregard the inconsequential noise that chokes your ears. If you truly knew, you would tell apart my voice by my pulse points and the wash of gray light upon my lips.
Listen, please listen, and I will be all that you hear.
I dreamed she was Cytherea, with liquid propitious eyes,
But she stared at me too deeply, and I saw myself despised.
She spoke well of her fierce lovers, all strong men of harsh repute,
And those who pledged a longing for her heart of bitterroot.
They cawed like brooding ravens, they craved her fragrant heat,
I knelt before her, unadorned, the shame of my conceit.
Denied of all her ardor, my faith was thus revoked,
I pleaded for compassion, and wept when I awoke.
Listen, back when you were a drinking man: You heard the cicadas churn their wind-up poetry, elegies from craunching throats. The parking lot was a checkerboard of F-150’s and Wranglers, intersected by broken yellow lines, and the overhead lights shredded their windshields. There was a cornfield beyond the blacktop, and it sighed like corduroy, and it had a womanly fragrance. The wind, a tattooed thug, pulled you to the fence line and forced you stare at the mathematical spaces between you and everything else.
You warbled and fidgeted, and sprayed an arch of piss along the posts. You cried for the dark to swallow you; instead, the Neil Diamond karaoke grew louder. Holly Holy became your prayer, and then vanished. Then, Don’t go breaking my…, but it was too late. A fumble of pocket keys, and then no, you would walk. To rest in the corn, into her trembling, caramel arms. The cicadas would tell you what you needed to know.
We drank a lot of Pinot Noir that night,
the preferred drink of the cardiganed types (they said),
but we reveled in it, stranded here in the fuselage.
Brave (you said), and juicy like raspberries.
We toasted each other, and then our aspirations, unaccomplished,
oh, but we were still willing to fumble through the wreckage.
We stuffed a white candle in the neck of the bottle;
simple elegance (I said), and we watched the flame
sputter in the dark.
Meager moments of the unexplored light,
peace between dark breaths,
flowing and flowing.