and darling, isn’t this
(my highest sincerity)
everything you’ve ever dreamed,
lift the glass veil (a universe
between your hand and my skin)
between sleeping beloveds,
the space of infinitesimal
décalage, and you
may as well be folded in the same
corner of wild earth (seething
desires of my dismantled heart)
the cool in-between
dispersed by his slow breath
and the brush of callous on your cheek
sing the old litany of words,
those that are yours (is that
me in your poem?) and verses
torn from dogeared leaves of prayer
(not really soothing, but soothing
nonetheless), the fractured
dreamscape of his face obscured
by the blurred reflection of your
slow-moving lips (I died for
Beauty but was scarce-)
side by side along the water,
too weary to reach out an arm
(all my wits to you)
“a universe between your hand and my skin“- mad/ness by Holden Lyric.
“not really soothing, but soothing nonetheless“- The Torn Up Road by Richard Siken.
“I died for Beauty but was scarce-“ by Emily Dickinson.
The words will come when they’re ready,
but more often I find my desk steeped
in ash and vacant envelopes, white
paper tongues dry as corpses.
Shriveled leaves of absent thought
and passion. I had promised
to replenish their emaciated folds
with some new strain of spark,
but what can I do when
the hours sail by in perfect mimicry,
phantom passengers waving
their tattered flags to the bleached
skeletons leering from the shore.
“You can stroke people with words.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
Yours is the sort of hypnotic fancy I’d have liked to put my heart in, as I huddled in an empty terminal at 3:27 am with my trenchcoat and notebook rumpled on my knees, sleepless and wrecked by nocturnal solitude. That endless florescent night, I prayed to unapproachable gods (one more time) that I, composed of letter and sound, could transcend the treacherous black cartography; that I could swim languorously through the unfathomable span of waves and graze his cheek with dexterous pen and ink; that someone could subsist on breath and water alone while each bounty of epicurean sensuality languished in the shadow of language’s luminosity. To have graphite hands and fingerprints of written impress, to reach him with every word and thrush of hope, limbs folded as an envelope and my mouth as the cool corner stamp: a delirious half-dream as I waited to be carried off by the great white wing.
Meanwhile, someplace I could no longer reach, he held my paper essence in his hand and placed my lettered soul upon the highest shelf, perhaps believing for an instant your blithe fantasy of living word and voices rendered corporeal. And like you, I used to believe that this body was withered transience, decaying conduit for an undefinable holy something, that the real substance was whatever I could fathom in the boundless amorphism of an aberrant headspace. These days, the shatter of grief and absence dismantles my chest in the same measure that it wracks the strange, virescent landscape. These days, I remember the unified duality of self as he asked in one breath for my body and the cowering soul inside, the tender brush of heartstrings moving through my skin. These days, there’s no defining phrase or definite hope to cleave to, but still the poetry spills over, and I shake my head at its dismal perseverance.
These days I am no longer so sure of anything, except perhaps the bleak insufficience of paltry verse and love that you read but cannot sense. Maybe some scribe more masterful and wise could manage that fantastic penstroke, that miracle of language I can’t pretend to possess. But please do not speak to me of dreams impossible, of soft touches fashioned from distant lips, of caresses gleaned from typewriters and keyboards. Here is my discourse and here is my heart, but the former cannot fathom anything that will suffice as limbs moving through worn white sheets, a hand outstretched and taken in the dark.
There was a time, a luminescent absconscion from pitch delusion into a softer demesne of hopeful lyric, when the penumbra dissolved and the curtains unfurled to the resonance of the first arching note, and I believed that every word was worth its weight, every phrase enough to assuage the gasping ache of festered grief, when I prayed to the illimitable haven of living voice to render each moment in righteous truth.
Give me crimson and gold, amber-inflected horizons and empyrean blues, inflect the firmament with scintillating flare and hue. When midnight obfuscates the last light and saps the sky of Polaris, Perseus, Hercules, all our silvered heroes, place into these reverent hands a holy convocation of the utterance I need to do right by these ephemeral moments. Whisper forever of that which I can only live through language, and that which I alone can speak into vicarious existence.
A year has gone by, four dry seasons of virgin pages fallen in perennial autumn. I press my ear to the cornucopia and it echoes, a hollow resonance like a dial tone. My hands fall, two empty nets at my side. The famine sinks in, sandpaper lips and impotent tongue, and I entreat once more the faceless churn of late masters and departed loves, What clandestine thieves transgressed the inviolate harvest of measured lines? Where has it gone, the amaranthine chorus of immaculate verse and treasured word? How can I invocate once more the sempiternel birth of ink and memory? And they answer at once, a tumultuous roar of ancient condemnation, unstitch their mouths and bear their scarlet teeth, seethe into my soul as one onerous voice, There was no thief, there was no thief, there was no thief…
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-