Stefano Maderno

I brush your wrist

Psychic scars swelling

Beneath my fingertips

I can never unfasten your pain

Only redirect it

And too often it seems

I become the unwitting source


You bare many names

Few of which are your own

Expectations superimposed create

The deepest chasms

Each morning you reapply

The stitches that elevate your lips

And each morning you shave

Your eyebrows that I can no longer

Gauge your inclinations

(I know that you smile for me

But do you ever smile with me?)


Rust gathers around the surface

Of your furtively locked jaw

We will not speak of the pain

That has rendered your tongue inert

Not of the red peeling knuckles

And never of the eclipse

That has darkened your eyes

I cannot lessen a burden

That is conscientiously reapplied

(A martyr’s burden

Is never sated)


Reaching into unlocked ribs

I watch you extract

The most curious fruits

Your fearful spleen,

Your tender heart,

Your heroic lungs,

Your carnal liver,

Your spiteful appendix,

Your dubious kidneys

Each organ ritualistically drained

As if nothing in you

Could ever be saved