The sight of her bare face filled him with fear. He collected her discarded masks. He held them up to her face. He begged her to wear them. They made her familiar, safe, maneuverable. He loved “her” past tense. Some part of him wanted her to remain past tense forever. The wounds in her heart were like the grooves in a record player. The song she sang was agonizing but at least he could follow the melody. He could listen to her for hours, for days, for centuries. He was ready to drown himself in her song. He wasn’t convinced that the healthy version of her would be content with such a limited repertoire. He sensed that she wanted more. He wanted to save her. In his own way. In his own time. He resented her in motion. He resented her when fallow. He loved her. He hated her. She was everything. She was fodder. He understood her. She was becoming a stranger.
Where my heart once held strong and fast
there is an ossuary filled to capacity
with your cast-offs and all the advice
that you inter in me acts as a paralytic.
I can no longer move or breathe
for the expectation of happiness.
Of myself I know only the splinters
that your helpful carving has knocked free.
My heart may be as common as paper
but it is filled to the margins with love.
My love was not yours to take
it is mine to share, however I choose.
I have scars that spill when torn.
I have masks fused and worn to bits.
I have skin as thin as air,
every breath holds me captive
in someone else’s lungs.
I tried to sympathize with the devil
but his nefarious tongue set fire
to all my hopes and dreams.
Alone in this war I am still legion.
I have taken on whole armies with my bare hands.
And although fractured I am still too much
for any one person to suppress.
All life is a kind of hypnosis
one day bleeds into the next
and I am not always awake
when the sun splits the darkness.
You overtook me though I was only a child
forced yourself onto my body
and claimed me as part of your entitlement.
You defined man always in terms of cruelty
and you were proud to participate in that cruelty.
To avenge myself
I choose to live on, without you.
I choose not to judge other men
by your warped standards.
I choose to feel my pain
however deep it goes
without letting it rape me into a ghost.
My heart falls forward, ribs buckling,
knees dropping to the ground in unison.
The sky looks thin and precarious from above.
Behind that great blue curtain, the puppeteer plucks his strings.
The sun tears at my flesh. Sweat slips into my tears,
I rub my eyes with a jet black sleeve.
Grass pokes at my fingertips like an accunpurist’s needles.
I peel back layers of earth but you are much too deep.
Life assures me like cancer
that I am finite, farfetched,
suppressed as a simulacrum.
It’s not possible to think
about the present moment
when married to its vision.
Everything that exists,
exists on a continuum
of reflection and conjecture.
What was once transparent
is now rooted like granite
with splinters of chamomile
bursting free at the edges.
It only takes a thimbleful,
a single breath, a ray of light,
a drop of blood to get me going.
All humans are layogenic,
a sideways glance,
a bout of nostalgia,
a darkened room
with two sets of curious eyes
locked together in breathless limbo.
Once met you’ll discover me.
I’ll never give you what you want.
Worth is synonymous with depth.
My scars are carved, not painted
red and bold like lips on paper.
It’s the constant itching
that reminds me that I’m current.
Who would I be without
Never trust a smiling face,
it takes longer to heal
when the wound is uneven.
I am not autophobic just conscientious
I don’t want to be blinded by conceit,
to find myself adored
by a stranger with sticky hands
and a heart overflowing with forgiveness.
Love is permissive like a drug,
if I should ever taste it
I’ll forget to come up for air.
I must maintain my ego,
the cracks in my heart
where I keep my needle and thread.
A fairy must remain anonymous
if she is to conjure.
Who would I be without
this blessed and cursed veil?
I can smell the bleach on your skin,
the ritual cleansings
the fear that your hands
might communicate your true intent.
What you love most about me
has nothing to do with me at all.
I cannot abide this malaise,
the transition from limbo
to a cell of artificial design.
I want to live in the bones,
in the spaces creased
It is in the depths
that I am made whole.
My heart is no longer cordate,
no longer flesh
it is an unsavory ligament
soliloquizing in inertia.
I stow it beneath the floorboards.
I hear it grunting and snuffling
like a fat, grey pig
as my fingers tick
aghast with the passage of time.
They say I am mentally ill,
that I must inoculate myself
against all thought and defect,
that I must become accountable.
I am a homely god,
my creations as mud on linen.
I go up in smoke
and there is no place in me
material enough to stitch.
Hers was a green, recumbent fire
a kind of homicidal neutrality
for which no solution was forthcoming.
Hers was a bag of tricks both
precious and terrifying.
Together we were as orange
as a sunrise, a spectral
and uncompromising flame.
I loved her and that goes without saying.
We did not coincide harmoniously.
She was a bell sanctimonious and habitual
and I was a poor godless church mouse.
How she pained me, day after day,
furnishing me and saving me scattered
onto unlabeled disks and I unable
to discern from any of my pieces
a reconcilable identity.
Had I been a board she would have
reduced me to splinters.
I, the love-struck penguin,
forgave it all
in the pursuit of monogamy.
I loved her as a dying man
She fed me lies on silver trays
and dreams simultaneously
measurable and misleading.
There’s a cleft in your heart,
a demarcation of chains
tightened gradually over time.
In a few years you’ll bare your first pearl
because there’s no keeping debris
from a wound that size.
All that time we spent contemplating
altschmerz has not made us weak
habit is, after all, the mother of evolution.
We reiterate and invent,
the same tired dialog
digresses into epiphany
and we are both better
for having known familiarity.
The lattice outside my window
never bore anyone up
and I never dared descend
but it served me well enough
as a reminder that love never dies,
however, often it shifts in execution.
You must not let the poison out
death waits in the periphery
an insidious catalyst,
a necessary and noteworthy cheat.
I am not finished
I have a name and a face
and womb clenched tighter than a sphincter
that means only to suffocate.
I assemble myself around doubt
for nothing ever grew from my expectations
I’ve held whole oceans back
and in the intermissions-starved for air-
I’ve said terrible things about you
but only ever in my own mind.
A triptych or a killswitch?
Collect your pennies, your pleonasms,
your down and out mediocrity.
I am not one of your pieces,
missing or otherwise.
One man’s art is another man’s scourge.
I’ve lived so long in this wobbly sac,
damaged and unbirthable,
a pupa warded against encounter.
I don’t know why I seek solitude
when I have a heart that hastens,
a heart full of pantomimes
and volcanic thirsts.
The moon has many faces
and each and everyone of them bleed.
I have one, unrecognizable
that scraps and scrambles
beneath the mirror’s wintry cowl.
Once my gaze seared with the ghosts of war
now it falters mere inches from the ground.
If you’re not dead than healing is still possible.
When one wound closes another opens
or is it a window I can never remember?
Is it time for bed?
Nose to the wall I think I’ll abstain.
Defiance for its own sake
is just another form of self-abuse.
How much easier would it be
if I had a reasonable perspective?
I hate, I hate, I hate
nothing and no one in particular,
it’s all momentary anyways.
Is there a point to all your gists?
All those gists that tied together
form even more puzzling knots.
Knots or nots, either way
they send me scampering.
Within every wall there is a mouse listening.
He notes my scars, my happenings,
the pepper and vinegar of my subtle deaths.
On the inside I am all raw meat and distress,
a neuron, a moron, a sweet and salty delusion.
I am very disassociated today but I thought I’d let you see the rambling incoherence of my brain struggling to find clarity.
My blood is cold and shrill
like old bath water.
It smells like the inside
of a child’s piggy bank
and I wish it were someone elses’
so that I did not have to scrub so hard.
I circle the square room,
exit and ingress perfectly spaced.
The days have grown queer and short
I shred them into riddles,
they are not the truth
and neither am I.
We are torn in places,
though I could not specify where
or at what precise moment
those tears became absences
too colossal to stitch.
My senses shrug,
a draw between evils.
It took me too long to peak.
What ribbon did I chase?
What substance-less virtue?
I have seen it,
the cadaverous blue
of a world gone mad
the proud, the idle, the dispossessed.
My smile crackles at the edges.
My singed tongue coils and retracts.
Cinders flicker in the air
like mating fireflies
whenever I chance to speak.