The three vigils

If we sink into the perilous kingdom of grief and retribution,
sin-branded souls howling to atmosphere of earth and flame,
shades descending the black staircase in veiled waves of disillusion
and shrieking as agonous tongues roast what’s left of their decrepit hearts,

it will be penitence for breaking our bread on the altar of nihilism,
for bloodmarked nights of shallow graves to which we don’t confess,
for honest repentance and white-cloaked righteousness
we never dragged from our burn-blackened throats.

                                                     Meet me in the farthest room at the lowest floor.
A lesser fate, if you can call it that.
Oblivion but for the awareness of self and time.
Cool indifference unrolling in every direction, nameless
silhouettes moving through the mist in eternal
succession, a barren stretch of the uncondemned
who never left a candle to warm the hands of the living.

A thrush of breath, a stirring in the grey,
or a scrap of paper dead in my pocket.
The last world will whisper through our death,
a hazy memento of your indelible essence.
A spark of memory will send a stream of air
high and clear between my lips.

                 Whistle out to call for me. We’ll walk through the fallow side by side.
And if we end and begin at the aureate threshold of glory,
astonished apotheosis into epicurean sublimity
into a luminescent demesne of wings and holy chorus
as seraphim lead us through chryselephantine doors,

it will be for the moments we let hope take our hand,
or allowed some stifled and innate love lead us on.
All of our humble graces, diminished in the face
of this remembered, amaranthine refrain.

Come find me in the crowds pouring into light. We will march in together and behind.

-M. Alden & co.


Where your treasure is

Every morning the grey
sky like a chalkboard
effaced of color and sound,
the stony march down
rain-hued boulevards
speckled with canvas shopping
bags and broken umbrellas
snapping in the wind.
Every morning a whispered
litany of distant names,
love’s eponyms and chariots,
a landscape of quick
vowels and soft consonants.
Sibilate faces alight in the
trees. My hands become
shy, and cower in my pockets.

Every afternoon the rosy
light in her hair, a slip of sun
coming through the halituous
curtain and grazing our skin.
Pass the bakery, the railways,
the trees felled right on the
sidewalk, spindly brown fingers
reaching into the road and
snapping under cars. Pass the
prescient gaze of the faces I left
hanging in the branches.
Press their names to the roof
of my mouth and swallow down.

Every evening the moon
in her swollen turn; an eyelash,
a communion loaf, a plump fruit
you could pluck right out of the
sky and burst between your teeth.
Ask them if it’s dark where they
are. When they say Not yet,
ask for a photograph of dusk, its
complicated violets and rose,
aureate horizon complected with
slips of crimson and indigo.
What does it look like to you?
A shoe, a chariot, a silhouette
that stops below the shoulder,
vaporous body dissolved in sky.


When the gasp of tears
gets the best of you
and you’re rocked by the
impending loss and chasm,
when you’re undone in the parts
where it counts and torn
at the knees and throat,
bleeding into the folded
corners of roadmaps and photographs,
my love, I promise you’re
still heard. It’s not alright,
and I won’t tell you it is,
but here in this moment
where our hands collapse
together, and the prodigal
sunlight settles in your hair,
palms outstretched
to pull you up from the gravel,

breathe in;

You’ll make it that much farther
and just a few steps more-


To the one who needs to hear it most. Hang in there, dear one.


Inexorable (I-III.)

They are still carving you up with their incisors
and knives, when you sleep or have turned your back
to face the sun- a blink, exhale,
and you’re wondering why there’s blood in your cuticles again,
yellow nicotine stains on your fingertips,
a taste of acid in the throat.

Inside-out or outside-in.
The ground that will ensconce you is indifferent.

You’re wondering which is quicker, not painless,
which leaves less remains for the rest to find
after your animative light has extinguished
after your body forfeits its longest fight.

There are some things I just can’t bear to confer-
cataclysmic entropy thrashing inside a shrinking headspace
illuminated by the flames peeling from the suppurations
of my brain, words like stitches unable to close
the rose-pearl chasm of open flesh. A greed
that will tear you ligament from limb
while scavengers lick your skin-stretched bones.

Darling, I can’t stand to imagine the miserable
shrivel of your eyes when you see what I’ve done again,
the crossed lines in a crossfire of psychomachia.
This sorrow’s not something you deserve,
and I’ll wrap myself in the lincel and velvet
before I let you look upon the vile
writhe of chimeric
thoughts and memory.

Trembling hands fumbling with the paper and filter,
a clumsy cigarette taking shape between your fingers.
The lighter is in your pocket, your shoes are
splattered with mud and spit, your voice is the scrape
of gravel under your tread.

Where is the piano coming from, who has shot the streetlights,
why am I shivering on the concrete?

You’re sucking poison into your chest like it’ll burn
away your limnetic madness, like I’ll forget
what I asked before you fled to inhale your death.
You wanted a different question, one with an answer
you’re proud to own, and I can’t blame you for that.
We can burn the query if you promise to reconcile
with the honesty that remains, gleaming like a pistol
under the ashes, and I’ll wrap you in my coat,
I’ll walk you home under the smoke-smothered stars.