Anathema

and perhaps the chaos
wracked each perilous hour
and the masochistic wreck
of my annihilated virtue
devastated the sweet idyll
landscape of foregone youth.

and it’s true that the potent
novocaine of indifference
left me fumbling with every
letter that facons your name.

forgetting the pale
undulations of your skin
underneath my
tremulous fingertips
came easier than I’d like
to admit.

and I welcomed the violent
ransack of our secret Jerusalem,
hearkened irrevocable excommunication
with the incendiary fervor
of a zealous heretic,

and watched the sun set
on the unholy wasteland
of shattered hallelujahs.

but today the lights went out,
and the apocalyptic documentary
reeled in double-time
as a slow accent declared
the cataclysm we’d already witnessed,

and the quiet aftermath
of vacant homesteads and
nameless death and graves
effaced by the black wave
of lifeless faces rolling over the screen
wrought a stillness that I
could almost call holy.

and darling, under all this
scarlet bravado
and intellectual machismo,
the cheap plastic trophy case
that I curate with pallid devotion,
the nihilistic irreverence for every
god that ever scorned me,

you are still the cynosure
of my dearest hope,
the fleeting grace that makes this
sisyphic quotidian
a pain that I can live with.

your arms,
mortal but somehow more than,
are the surest haven
I could hope to embrace
in this tar-stained, scar-laced existence.

and I still love you,
and I haven’t forgotten,

and I’m hoping you’ll let me say it
before my apathy beckons
and erases the last aurulent vestige
emblazoned beneath my eyelids.

ego.

i am the moonside revery
    of your faintest dreams
  scarlet anthems of amaranthine passion
       fathomed in untouchable
                                         drunken delirium.

   i am your midnight clandestine
      vertiginous whispers of bedsheets
   and swansong,
      
      the anathema haunting the halls
                                         of your inverted sanitarium.

       i am the crooked dark
          edging over your body,
   the slender echo of your fingers
              on the lowest ebony key

   the love notes

                                        slipped between the letters.

          i am her
             broken clasp
          tarnished on the nightstand,

            the red lines raked across your back

         and

                  the cracked fingernail

          dug too deep
                  into your

                                        aphotic ecstasy.

Dirty habits

“The passenger-side door is broken,” I tell him,
his hand grasping at the jag of torn plastic,
so I lean in from the inside, push the handle hard
and he slides in beside, leans on the tattered armrest
sings along to the white scramble of radio sound.

These simple things. Tender domesticities
that make your bare toes curl under, a coffee pot
next to the chipped sugar tin, clean blue towels
folded in the broken cabinet. I don’t need to paint
pictures of the rooms you live in, but picture this:

Him pondering the paper scraps scattered on your desk,
puzzling out the sweep and curl of your ink-stained hands.
A skeleton in the closet that strides out when he’s dressed
in his jeans and dirty chucks, kisses your cheek in plain daylight
Bob Dylan on the record player, spaghetti wilting on the stove.

You see the kind of daydreams I stash in the glove compartment
stuffed under the insurance card and pack of Camels, sweet
nothings I hum to the empty passenger seat. Like you-and-me
is something illicit, a dirty fix that’ll lock you up from the inside.

Heavy things

Give me your bruises,
the nauseated stains of
your fingers too hard on my skin,
yeah I kind of like it that way
when you’re breathing (her) name
real quiet like you’re trying
to place her     between us,
isn’t it easy with the
whiskey on your lips

the green haze
swimming through the air
(we are just bodies now)
and sending our distinctions
of face and rhythm
to sleep-

Give me the passionless
thrust of flesh, just enough
to ignite the heat and     release;

with your hands tied up
in my hair like that, baby who
(the fuck?)
knows what touch or title
we’ll rub into our mottled
skin in the sober morning.

And we’re up all night again, cursing the torn-up road again,
we’re slipping under each other’s skin, and if there’s a lesson
shirking in the sheets it’s that kisses are real heavy things,
all your burdens and scars and scarlet grief clenched between your teeth-

Letter to Istanbul

And there you were,
teaching me the strange
names and peculiar weave
of your nation’s frayed and
radiant tapestry;

Mélange of language
painting the scarlet story,
undertones of black
division and aurulent
complements of someday’s hope;

There you were,
your cigarette waving
dangerously close
to your wild bronze curls,
coffee spoon balanced
on the white rim
of your sugar-laced cup,

a frenzy of passion and
blood-stained philosophies,
the unmistakable anomaly
and unusual grace of your brow
a landmark on the grey
provincial landscape;

There you were,
yesterday or perhaps
I am mistaken-

and now in the dreadful
lapse of uncertain hours
I’m begging every God
I ever spurned
to cast their wing over
your young lion’s heart.

Send news soon
of where this night finds you.
The earth as I know it
could never withstand
the grievous absence of
your luminescent soul.

15/7/16

Penstroke

“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 fluorescent 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.