there will be nothing after, not an afterimage, nor a silhouette. he is tired, too tired to open his eyes—but they're already open, and if he does close them he only feels worse, nothing but the passage of time and the next shift in the light as it spills through a window, the leaves of the tree outside. his eyelids have thinned, can no longer protect the thin, frail membranes that shield the vision from the bright of day. all of the inner parts of him have grown exposed to the elements. if you touch the line of his eye he doesn't move away or bat your hand aside. everything you see when you look at him has gone white and vulnerable. and your soul is heavy as lead. you see his soul, exposed and wet-winged and lacerated, see it thrashing at your breast like a strangulation-victim. you look away and the rustle of your motion tells the whole truth of you; the spine like an abyss, the expressionless face, the taut-cord muscles in his arms. in him all the human mystery is collected as in a single shadow: all its roughnesses, and pores.
we set out for nothing but still arrive with a harvest
to the pomegranate tree of our house in the city
when it is full of fruit
i will eat with you and we will hold each other as a sacrament
until our tongues are filled with honey
we will be young as the wind blowing through the garden
as we are when we dream of one another
and you will kiss me until my teeth are stained with the sweetness of the earth
how to make the fire burn and how to tear out a heart.
how to sing like thunder and how to fly,
in a storm of feathers.
how to dance on broken glass and how to break hearts,
with your teeth.
how to be both predator and prey in a single heartbeat,
and how to make it last forever.
guitars and drums and electric lights;
all that was good.
all that will ever be good.
for a woman who sings the songs of love,
who loves to dance barefoot beneath the stars,
who's lived and lost and lived again,
who sees everything but hides nothing,
whose hands speak without words—
sing me a song, beautiful woman.
make these words real.
kissing a stranger in an alley
saying things she never expected
hearing him say her name
it isn't until he takes off his clothes
that she realizes
his eyes don't even see her
she's not real at all—
another girl, another game.
this time though
her fingers find her knife
a gift from her mother
and so she pulls it free
and watches as he turns to ash.
There was a great wail up from the pit
As the flames spread across the sky.
There was a cry of fire, and then again,
and again the roar from out the abyss.
There came a great silence, the very dust
Was silent beneath his feet; all the dead
Gone down to rest in their final sleep.
maybe the blue marks upon his body were not scars but birthmarks,
he could have been born with them,
they looked like they had been carved deep into him by a knife,
and he was afraid because if he tried to scratch at them, they bled and stung and burned,
but the pain made him think they might be healing,
so he waited for a sign,
until one day he felt a faint warmth upon the back of his neck and knew the mark was moving across the skin,
and just before it reached his shoulder he stopped it dead and took his hands away.
mother used to wipe our eyes,
but there was never any dust.
now when we dream of monsters and ghosts
she whispers lies in our ears.
the beast will not wait for morning light.
it will tear us limb from limb if it can't get at you first.
we will wake screaming, and our mother will kiss our foreheads.
no monster hides in this house tonight. no ghost lingers in this room.
when we sleep, she says, we sleep soundly, her hands smoothing out the covers over our chests.
the water's always so cold.
some days I think she is a witch, and then I know that I am one.
and she is too scared to do anything but tell us bedtime stories.
when i said to you “all you are is skin to me, and bones and nothing more” i was afraid
afraid of our childhood memories, our dripped pomegranate juice of bodies slick and slouching of voices toneless fleeting,
demeaning of the ebb and flow of life and death drumming incessantly on my doorstep like an old lover.
the way it flooded our hearts, diluted our veins until one morning
it tells all: once alive you'll never need a cold love, inside the hills to be bones and nothing more.
let me explain: your body is a candlestick,
a flickering thing.
you surge from low-grade panic, from flashbacks, from following the haloed faces of con-men straight into hell.
i'm still pulling blood out from under things,
nails and telescopes and cotton swabs,
it's sweet — it really is
how you try to smile one tooth at a time.
i made you a scarf
and you didn't even know it was yours when you asked if you could have it.
i could smell the turned earth in your hands, and for this i could not, not ever, diminish.
when the day is done for her, the peonies in midsummer are crying for nothing, nothing at all. so you decide to fall for her once more when you lay down at the altar, your hands wrapped tightly around her pulsating throat. all faith fled with her, turning into shivers of the autumn blue.
the rain-kissed eyelids
became an invitation