a small god
On those improbable, aurulent mornings
when your Janus halves reconciled
and found the whim to love the sun,
luxuriant reprieve we spent
lingering in the evanescent promise
of relearning the steps to Sunday
markets ripe with vermillion and daffodil,
saying hello to the neighborhood strays,
summiting the pine winding to our door.
Later, we will say,
if the subject should come up.
But prefer to smother the particular snap
of flesh thrashed against the wall
and the requisite battery of phantasmic stomping- the neighbors
in their irate oblivion, aftermath
of such banal catastrophe:
a choreography of keys, sterilized contrition,
in the morning, the fact of your sullen gravity-
On October’s deathbed
I felt kinship with the marigolds
and clementines laid on ephemeral altars
chessmen and sepia,
sweetbread and love letters
to hearken what was
and for one
will become again-
The old men are gathered
like pigeons around their chessboard
chuckling at the clumsiness
of kings and their own
supposed secret cleverness.
I watch them at a distance,
baffled by the afternoon’s illusory splendor
outraged that anyone could stand
this winter’s austerity without you
your nimble maneuver of marble queens,
your smile to charm the skies
into a sigh of clemency.
I suppose I imagined your absence
an apology on the gate,
the Sunday cravats dispersed
among the peonies, a farewell
till next week, when you’ll return
revel in the aurulent hours
and scowl at the pawns.
I wanted to find you here
or else find no one at all;
without you, who should bother
to wander the courts of Luxembourg
and engage in this kindred warfare.
You’re only a mile away
and yet I mourn the emptiness
shadowed on your place
wish to ask the old men
if they miss you,
wish to bring you home
some news of their fondness.
These voices that scream into my bones the agony of their aloneness, their sweltering rage and their raw fear, they tell me their rosary prayers and cry for a mercy we cannot name. They tell me of their infant too far to touch and their wife lying nameless in the desert sand, they say it’s a matter of time before they kiss each other goodbye through a telephone. I close my eyes and in the stillness I see the dark dragging you away.
“Je vais mourir ici-” I’m going to die in here- she says, and names her children so that I can hear the song in their birth. I keep their letters close, hope’s palimpsests erased and drawn in shades of despondence. They linger by our bedside, vesperal whispers of a thousand living deaths, visions of once-upon homes burned to the earth, and beloved, I have begun to dream of your face in their stead.
There will be a time, beloved, when I kiss you and it will be the very last-
maybe I’ll know it, or maybe I’ll spend the rest of my life wishing on the wind to brush my lips like you do. There will be a night when you drift into that final dark, and my arms will falter in holding you close. Maybe I’ll drift asleep easy, the blithe sweetness of your breath holding us afloat, or maybe I’ll spend each second willing my body to keep a trace of your ghost. We have always been unspeakably finite, but at last I can sense the immediacy of this end and beloved, I am breaking-
My greatest selfishness has become this wish to leave our heaven first.
There’s an easy rhythm
that measures each draft
in angular harmonies and
nostalgic rifts of bygone sin
the demure chic of the environs
on the cusp of gaudy, then
suddenly sly in their elegance.
I may find myself here
impervious to elixir’s lure,
but your revels in these implacable
always left an ache in my skull.
Nimble acrobatics of auriferous poison
Whorls of silver flashing before the riveted
barstools basking in your arrogance,
Your finesse for this wicked finery
was unmistakable unluckiness-
it is a strange dismemberment
to apprehend the hamartia
lurking in someone you love.
I believed you dead once,
the coldest hour, a mutilation
of soul subdued only by news
of your car in some government lot-
your breath still seethed its trademark amber
when you downed the morning in one
bitter glance of cracked recollection.
Love and rage being so close
I would have spat in your drink
had it not spilled over your clothes
and baptized us in grief.
It was a slow love, like the subtle rise of the sea as it pulls in the careless and the wild, lawn chairs and chrysanthemums swallowed in the wet while I planted my heart in the gulf and nodded gently to the tide, and his eyes on the horizon hearkened languorous shores that warmed in the sun like bathwater, so I swam to the deep and its beauty grasped my ankles, seized my hair and soothed me to sleep, and the reprieve of breathing was such that I wept watching the last pearls of life float to the surface and burst-
I always fall
asleep in you
like an iron lung
the breath that seethes
some calm in my limbs
seized by stratospheric
Even in anger
my skin will cry out
to you and weep
for your chest
and should you be far
my last hope of repose
in orange bottles
hid between the wall and
You can hate me
for saying this, but I
envy the shots of sleep
you take, instantaneous
needless dreams you never
remember in the morning.
Oh my love, I
and often wish I couldn’t.
I make love to an edge
and these ceaseless careens
between folly and purpose,
wickedness and some
kindness I learned
in a past life
this bleeding for
an assassination of the body
that saves the
Body that has never learned
to smother itself in austerity
to make room for brighter hues
Body I cut and curate and
burn to the ground so that
remember that it has
only ever been
Body that holds you like a child
and aches to be known by your hands.
a broken glass
through the door
or perhaps a creeping
' kiss on your
I could nudge you again
try to make you
r e m e m b e r
that I exist here
in a hundred ways
all of them made for you.
and I’ll forget those
I’ve stowed in my bottom drawer
should I ever learn
to burn these walls
and swallow their ashes
bury a love
on its grave
There are these oftentimes I cannot reach you.
A heavy fog over your laden heart,
curtains pulled over to evade the sun.
An oceanic trench of disbelief
in the vehement hope I try to conjure.
There are these broken refrains
that sing flat and hollow.
I can never get the notes right anymore-
my voice always cracks on the crescendo.
And in the subsequent silence
I curse my tongue for its stumble,
the wreck of sound that cannot rebuild.
Sometimes I think it’s me that failed, dear one.
An arsenic-lipped lover with no antidote to offer,
a slaughterhouse mess of misguided intent.
I am told that it is neither of us,
that convalescence is a fortress
we cannot scale alone.
Please forgive, then,
the battering ram that tries
to shatter your iron door,
the stubborn want to reach
that which is beyond us both.
I suppose it fell in one
swift slice of tether
the sudden rush of robin-blue
from the jaded thrush of sycamore-
these hapless wings
awash in the fetterings of broken shell.
You came far after
the rest sailed south
on the bristled hush of winter,
made your nest
of moss and
In that surly crag of slate and rain
there never was a song like yours
but I so loved your slender alto,
soft on the snow’s sharp drifts.