When Saturn first
warned us about the perils of combustion,
I made a list of things I would slough
out my window in the final few seconds
before the holocaust baptized the whole house:
one frayed photograph, a letter from Port-Cartier
but stopped there knowing that I can do
without better than your average monk
and after all, my most prized possessions
come in packs of twenty and I wish for those
to be ablaze always.
There is a history of fire in this home —
my grandmother’s mind was lit
with the wicks on her eightieth birthday cake
and did not stop burning until each
framed memory was wrought with cinders.
She was no more aware of her writhing
recollection than Saturn
is of his eternal permanence
far above our heads, spinning on his axis
like a spool of thread, never amounting
to anything but billows of dust
that unravel to resurrect in our
bluish blood. I am a true descendent
of these suspended bodies –like my father’s
mother, I shed memory quicker than
the fledgling viper sheds her scales,
new skin emerging while she
sidewinds through strange terrain.
Like Saturn, I am tilted in space with
nothing to believe in, not even gravity
and I wonder if any stargazer would notice
if I should catch fire.
I want to purify my body
in an inland sea of alkaline,
after everything has been made poison
from an irrevocable blow from the sky.
just for there to be anyone around
to make cave-paintings and calenders
the entire world had to go away for a while.
Before there were whales, there were
little dogs with hooves, that decided,
on bad information, to just keep walking into the ocean.
Time made them titans who could never go home.
Even chickens can still remember
walking around, roaring and shit.
They dreamt of flight;
now they have wings.
And when the flicker of flowers peek from the eye socket
of my calcified skull in the lakebed,
I wonder how long before they get bored,
and what will they’ll exchange for their ennui.
each version is vague about which fruit
tempted man, so i picked an orange as
my offering. you peeled back the rind
like primitive man who came upon an
ostrich egg, godlessly marveled its form
then sunk his itching teeth into its shell
to feel the yolk drip down his chin.
the citrus corroded your lips just as
they found their purpose and you
thought these slices were meant to be
sweeter but you ate as much as i fed
you, half. enough to fill you with
the bitter tinge that comes from
eating oranges or raw eggs or living
secular or living at all. and it’s true
i haven’t been able to rid the smell
of oranges from my impure hands but
i’ve forgotten the taste.
Of Prussian blue velvet. Our emergency
Kit of kitchen gadgets adapted
That rented, abandoned, used-up grubbiness
To the shipyard and ritual launching
Of our expedition. One mirage
Of the world as it is and has to be
Seemed no worse than another. Already
We were beyond the Albatross.
You yourself were a whole Antarctic sea"
―Ted Hughes, from 55 Eltisley (with regards to B. Nicole)
Engorged with the crimson
of Christ, the Mexican postulants
rest in procession,
common cannibals full-up
before the stakes
We too are gravid
but with godlessness,
so in the place of salvation we
scavenge satiety and bow our heads
like saints themselves over the skin
of other sinners and prey and
Six hands, three tongues
forking forward forking toward
one another, don’t you
count on, don’t you
ever pray for me
Three hearts, six lungs
pumping blood, pushing air
pushing it through and through and through
The boy sheds his lambskin
but does not grow fiercer and
at a nod, sidles out of her and steeps
for moments into me, into me
The postulants look up
to see God, I look down to
see you to feel you both
beneath me and skin
―Saul Bellow’s Henderson the Rain King
―Joan Didion, on keeping a notebook
―Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia