Fight or flight (we’re running out of options)

What did you think?
That distance and
inward difference
would drive out
the inexorable,
obfuscate the clarity
of ghastly recollection,
dull the rusted tip
of memory’s unspeakable knife?

You’re in the center
of interminable winter,
the stark white faces
of immortal demons
bearing scarlet teeth
and singing for the offering
that quivers under your skin.

Delusional to dream
that the landscape
would morph
over the course of
casual vagrancy,
that the sinister terminus
of winding blacktops
would diminish in its
abominable potence.

Don’t think we don’t see how you choke-
your throat closes with every voyage
into the caliginous domain of insidious horrors,
headspace reeling and amygdala aflame as
the technicolor film plays out in every corner;
you’re bleeding out the strength you sought and won,
seething with unshakeable panic and pleading
for some goddamn reprieve from these black inundations,
shrieking in your sleep when unconsciousness
can’t vanquish the monsters that slithered
through your ear and
into every dream.

This is fight or flight honey,
and you’ve already tried
the latter.

So for the sake of
salvageable sanity
and those who redeem
this noxious wasteland
into something livable,
find a means to subsist,
a way to exist with dignity

in the midst of the devil’s
playground.

Inexorable (I-III.)

I.
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.

II.
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.

III.
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.

Into light

There is a darkness
that our tremulous adoration
cannot rescind or slay.

There is something in us
that skulks in the grotesque
headspace between
our diasporic minds,
rejoices in the valley
of our worst grief and folly.

Tell me its name,
how it calls in every
adumbral doorframe
and vesperal void,
the surreptitious face
of our monstrosity.

Speak out loud
that which only
your fear has known.

Tell me you’ll hold my hand as
I confess the nightmares and
draw you a map of graves,
shallow rivers running over bones.

The quiet is scaring me, love
so stay beside me until we find
the words to hearken dawn.

afterthoughts

that’s not funny
she says, my ugly
words twisting her face
into a sagging parabola,
a hell-bent slope for
her tears to drain off, but
it’s true i tell her i’m not
kidding honest-to-god or
whoever calls the shots i’m
going, repeat earnestly
repeating myself like i can’t
quite believe, the royal
city’s shut its chryselephantine
gates, harbinger of absconded
souls gone to sleep, mass trenches
or earth-hewn cradles rocking us
in sentient-void orbit till
to dust we return, and it’s
funny because when i was
little i wrote fifty-four
pages of a story called
‘meet me in heaven’
and i want to promise her
i will i’ll be good and fold
my hands like holy origami
and never ever say goddammit or
anything that could lock
me out forever, always say
grace and godblessyou and pray before
the sun goes down but mama i’m
sorry, if i’m going anywhere
it’s a very cold place and if
i pray for anything it’s
that you will sleep somewhere warm.

Acceleration

Dimming the speed of light
till it shivers, one treacherous step
at a time in the darkness
little toes straining
to feel out the black-mouthed holes
before they swallow:
the prodigal’s dawn comes slowly.

There is no map for God-drawn heart-lines.

Is it faith if you’re still trying
to make shapes out of midnight?
The blind man didn’t forfeit color
in the name of contented trust.
Is it faith if it’s thrust upon you?
I would ask, but my words are a shot in the dark.

The little worlds of a billion minds
whirl in neurotic orbit
crash in elliptical roads
and in this grand humane cacophony
I barely hear you say

Just be still.

I need to dance in white-hot tails
of streaking flame
I need to sprint through the cosmic labyrinth
and find you.

The speed of light can only take me so fast
but I’ve decided anything is better
than the utter stillness of dark.

Page 42.

I dreamt of
a book, little souls
on the pages.
I lived
on page 42
and that’s where
all those fingers traced
all my letters till
my corners bent
like little paper petals.

The xylem of red
pens annotating the biology,
every line with a cerebral pathology
and unknown
unyielding
methodology
of a true savant.

There are still so many pens
sputtering scarlet ink with which
to write scarlet letters on all
my bro-
ken
promises and ill-worded bromides
and I am afraid

they will
Stop
and realize there’s nothing
on page 43.
Was that it, my magnum opus composed

at 18 with a rose caught between my teeth, thorns
lodging hard in my mouth
fibrous fangs I can run my tongue across?