And at last the weary thread of patience
slips through the elusive silver eye,
a line of blanket stitches through
the sheets I pull over our dust-cloud mouths.
And I am learning to reconcile with
the tilted magnitude of memory:
A grand arc of aurulent miracle
In my reverent, covetous hands,
Or perhaps to you,
An ephemeral dart and glance of fate
As you make your way towards the hall.
Leave the light on when you go, love.
The thimble is heavy on my fingertips,
I am forgetting how to weave us in
To the tapestry of sorest hope.
Here we are in the heart of it, love,
the hearkened rise of aurulent dawn
all space and weight dissolved
a denouement written with lips and fingertip
on familiar curve and crevice.
The blue morning imbues the room
with prismatic iridescence, ascendant
luminescence over our languid bodies,
violet moons under our eyes and
tired limbs intertwined.
Were it not for a pale hair in the brush,
hasty photographs on a cracked screen
or the lingering sweat imprinting your body
on the tattered mattress, I’d believe
I had dreamed it all-
What but grace, its tenderness without
provenance or promise of tomorrow,
could answer for the low moan of breath
and bones restless upon the quilt,
quiet laughter in place of attended sorrow?
I understand now, the miracle
that speaks not of light
but of what it shines upon.
Here we are at the narrow doorstep
of resolution and remembrance.
A brush of skin brought out of shadow,
inocciduous morning stars
that cross but do not
There is a palimpsest
of crystalline promises
waiting on the highest shelf,
built upon volumes
of tender letter and verse.
You are not
their beloved essence,
the exquisite chime and call
heard in each
You never held them
in your hands like I do,
their slender curve and warmth
pulsating on your skin
But I have saved them all,
the hopeful sketch and gleam
in the pristine gallery of indelible memory,
running my finger down
the weary leather spine
slips of future vision
twined with thread and stem
and threading myself
through a thousand hours
preserved in loose pages
and re-lived within a breath-
Here we are in the red
room where the table
fumble with your
napkin, your knife
a silver clatter
on your plate
raised the fork to
your teeth. My
seeds in a grisly skull
painted with crimson
and black, looking at
you in the hungry way
you adore. Hands folded
in holy invocation.
Violins burn like empty
coffins in the fireplace.
All of our sins and hope,
laid before our mouths
in a banquet of
rescinded wisdom and
A divine immolation
in reach of our
and the hour is now
to swallow down
and taste the sordid
delight, roasted hearts
and words simmering
with asinine love
glory to spit into the sink
and throw out
with the ashtrays,
to rot in the river
On the other side of this page are ghastly words that crept through my window on the crest of October’s sinister chill. You know them. They are the same mutilated portraits of anguish you found among the ripped notebook shreds scattered around my room like butterfly wings the loathsome churn of memory, violent slash of vengeful ink. I remember cleaning up the massacre, bodies in my senseless hands to bury or smear with mud. And Light, I remember finding your soft penstroke resolute upon the black chronicle, your trembling attempts to calm and rock me to sleep until the terrible hive quit its thrashing. A blue wave of hope, I remember, curved over the places anathema hadn’t touched. I moved my finger over the still thin shard, trying to feel where yours had been.
And now again I need you to make good of all this vile refuse from an exorcism I keep undertaking but never carry out until the end. You’re the last open door in the corridor, your lips pressed to each nascent wound, your woven enchantments like lullabies that scatter my grief towards fallow ground. Still I gather the prismic miracles of your hand, the poignant mosaics and wise cadence you fashion from tattered photographs ransom with tears and scraps of self.
I remember weeping hours after you told me that you had burned your exquisite troves of poetry,because it made you bitter and seethe with doubt. From then on I’ve tucked each written offering into a secret pocket,
and lay my hand over the gap at night.
I remember you telling me on the last stretch of journey home to write down the phrase “slip of light under the door”, so that you could
imbue it into a greater body of warmth. These threads I wrap around my shoulders like hand-me-downs. Nights like these I recall everything you taught me of prayer and gift, a love you can whisper through gathered pages.
In the phantasmal spectrum of faces
I look across the clouded evening,
stare right into the passenger-side vacancy
and whistle softly,
call to your ghost, your halcyon trace
that illuminates my shadow hours
with gentle refulgence.
Dear heart, draw near to me
because I will always need your hand
when the corners pile up with broken glass
and hoarded grief
and you will always keep me
turning long after the music stops
and we will always know our place
is on backroads and back seats,
your head on my shoulder and my heart
giving thanks for the effervescent wonder
of you, whistling in the dark.
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.
It may take another year,
another life lived in storybook pages
oceans hissing in the hourglass
windswept, wildflower places
with no roadmap to our provenance-
but love, I swear someday
I will come home
and we’ll dig up the briar rose
weeds from our laughing garden
and fill up the cornucopia
with quivering snow
and old shoelaces tied into forget-me-nots.
Do you remember when we were sprites?
darting through afternoon-gold grass
husky evening nipping at our heels,
but never catching us
because we sailed on arts-and-crafts wings.
I knew each fold
that appears when you smile
and I could coax them out
with an orange laugh
with a lavender embrace
You were my dandelion summer
and the auburn warmth
that swaddled me during grey November.
Do you remember when we were idols?
finding gold in cupid bows
glittering with noontime laughter,
and never sickened by the
because we believed it wouldn’t come
I skipped around a bonfire
and threw paper flowers
into the rabid flames.
Smoke rings around the roses
And we slept soundly
under a navy quilt
under scorching-white stars
our supple skin
Do you remember
when the Fates called us by name?
You can’t trust crazies with shoelaces
so we strung our feet together with zip-ties.
And don’t let us get ahold of a spork,
its prongs may bite at twitching wrists.
I didn’t have any shoes within regulation
(the buckles are almost as dangerous as sporks)
and my toes curled against the hospital-grade carpet
embarrassed to be so ill-endowed
of shoes, of sanity.
My mom wore sneakers just my size
and quietly her hands pulled
the laces loose through the parallel spaces
till they sat, two vacancies
for ten ashamed toes.
She pulled off her socks,
two cotton skins to keep me warm.
A nurse bent down and looped a plastic chain
where the laces used to be. I think her hands
were tender because she had seen
the procedural exchange, and my mother
walking away with
two buckles on her steady feet.
To K. Alden, the supplier of regulation footwear and the most astonishingly kind and brave woman I know.