We stole the shawl of night–
once or twice, nevermore!
Over breathless words, shadows
Cast vague through soft inattention.
In the distance, in spaces
Brought into being by its name. So where
went the echo? Enclosed!
Trapped within a cardiac horizon,
Beats traced from the red
Particular upon our lips.
Here and there they race,
First filaments of music and magic
But lost! Lost and gone away,
A thundercrack traced
Along the contours of our shore.
Already the waves
of dissolution dash inwards:
An erosion of forgery,
And the same accident that drew us
To the sheet of this goodbye.
“Distrust the maker, oh first direction.
It seeks only to confound flight
Of the sparrow and the thrush—
What use have regal wingtips
For letters of four and five?”
So it was once written
In gold-leafed pages upon the mind:
Some called them memories.
No name, no language they remember,
Letters sealed with tongues of white and grey
Matter, an accumulation across centuries.
Letters left at the doorstep
Of ambition: Did not a single stone
Give birth to the tower at Babel?
Letters cast off upon white-sailed ships,
Servants to the irrationality of the wind—
Have they tried speech?
Letters docked at black harbors,
Endless in ink, waiting to be read.
He misplaced first constellation in the womb
Of a woman. Her name was ‘mother’.
What did a word mean?
They shared a single probability
A double helix,
The anatomical echo of her degradation imprinted
In bases of four. He would run, but where to?
The road inside his home led
Back to itself: evergreen, ornamented
With the carcass of Christmas bottles and disallowance,
Misfortune grown old but sold young. He pursued
A second path, sought past insistence contours
Of magic and metal—surely their dances disallowed
The alliteration of feeling.
Inspired by Adrian Raine’s The Anatomy of Violence
A picnic of one, and a Sunday afternoon
For none. She packed
Inside her basket-woven heart
A blanket in blue. A blanket for ladybugs,
And incessant desire, a photograph to the last
Sunlit shout before the uncertainty of sleep.
They flitter about
Her imperfect skirt, re-arrange the polka dots,
Match designs upon a back they cannot—could not—
see. The arbitration of expected beauty needs
No inspector, no permission. Downcast eyes speak
Loudly enough and a queen’s will bends
To no fountain of flesh. Canvas of bone,
what heartaches do you hide? The lines of a lie
Cannot be undone through mere motion,
And only a fool
Desires resurrection without change.
It cannot be said that he had lived:
such a term must resist
Association with unlucky harpstrings and lecherous feet,
Fifth and third harmonics forgotten somewhere
Between the dotted lines
Connecting what-could-have-been and that plane of gold
Violence. He wanted nothing more—or nothing less?—
Than a summary calculation of his misdemeanors. Could they
Be mixed into a shot of sawdust and Promethean disregard,
An alchemical decomposition of that night and all nights thence,
Unweave from his mind, that fast-pacing mind, the marcato
Of his reflection, stained with the guilt of glass
And the judgment of her cinnamonbrown laughter?
He carried underneath his pillow—always!—
The black cartridge of his dissolution. He lacked only
The constitution for a final performance.
An invitation I received, written by my own hand,
But where misplaced memory of its writing?
I parsed the paper
/Split sheet in-two.
I struck down the gavel,
Put to testimony the lies of pastel twins.
Their mouths remained open, illiterate
To the governance of our truth.
“Think, think” I said, to myself and the moon:
Both of us had
Only two weeks more to undo.
I left then the deposition of that house, too long
Traced from the whistle of yesterday’s father.
A new parent I sought, amongst fields of sugarcane
And silence—in the soil of those rows
Burrowed the seeds of my rebirth.
So who had come before me,
and torn them all up?
On a Monday stroll I met again that man:
Red cap, red hands, with a smile
Inelegant. His eyes
Held nothing, knew nothing,
Painted in a drunken brushstroke—no!
Not drunken, but inexact, like the curvature of this world lost
On the tip
Of another’s tongue.
He chewed one shirt made of skin,
Looped twice-over into a wailing belt-buckle.
Even the intoxicated
Of the vermin besides his feet,
Stitched and soled in the tanner’s desperation,
Did not ask for a second serving.
They subsisted on morsels
Of the deconstruction project above.