(first crown)

36 → 49 → 45 (miracle cure) → 46 → 47 (jest cause) → 37 → 48 (other shore) 

Dangerous, is the smiling face of desire.

Have we not always known of this visit?

Betwixt between the vagaries of when 

we first me, eye to eye, too curious.

It isn't dangerous that I'm handcuffed

driving through this wide wide state on a bus,

the danger is unbound, furious,

inviolate, the blossom of chaos,

Zen, to your selfish, lonely inquisitor.

Are we not the old matchbook, struck to fire?

Rouge not, dear girl, and no more careful bangs.

I promise you darkness, and blinding sun.   


I promise you darkness, and blinding sun, / and a carnival wheel at twilight, / and in death, a ham atop the maypole. / It will be everything I've promised you, / our lies like fatty fish under the ice, / pendulous, waiting for their fishers to come, / in dead winter, when lovers speak in white, / honest as they are cold, as sundown sun. / Honest as idle lies, promised in twos, / fat as double boasts, and spoons of fishroe, / I promise you the boardwalk and the crier. / ("Step right this way for edification!"), / and that we will marvel, blissful, behind our bars: / "Is this the exhibit to the conquered?"


Is this the exhibit to the conquered?

Is this where I come to see my old friends

chopped to messes, plagued with poxes?

Is this where I find strangers I don't like

crucified on refrigerator doors

that aren't mine, that nobody will touch,

that sanitation just leaves on the corner,

bloody and mildewed, handle set in rust?

Is this where someone else's palsied life—

shrieking and whining—is better left mocked?

Is this where I come to kick the sickbed?

Where the gumball machines dispense skewers?

Is this the place for the miracle cure?

Is this the place for the miracle cure?

Here, sitting round this veneer table,

where we all hate each other, like family.

Like we know, which we do, the sad, sad truth.

Like it's thanksgiving in a hotel room.

We'd better spend our time on other lies:

chasing flesh in the corners of this tomb;

finding the airshaft by following the flies;

     blinking at the black night and cured by rue.

Better we two saved, than all of us dull.

Better two of us born, than all of us still.

Better we are spawned from these doors and halls; / the asylum rescinds the naked law.


The asylum rescinds the naked law. / Given that we've woken to the surprise, / of these hospital walls, these glazed brick walls, / these residents and orderlies, all eyes, / hairs, teeth, and hands that grab handles all day. / Given our sorrow at this arrival, / given the initiatives underway, / shouldn't we exercise our proviso? / Shouldn't we shudder in this breach of lies? / Climb these burnished tiles into the warm maw? / Into our own teeth, hair, and darting eyes. / Aren't we beholden to one jest cause? / Don't you smell the fumes of our mores / on fire at the apothecary?


On fire at the apothecary,

all that effort, melting in sealed boxes.

Aisle upon aisle of hot ashes

on robin-speckled linoleum tile.

You, still running in your rubber-sole flats.  

Me, vapid in eye, ever here, hovering,

watching you fly through the teetering racks,

down and back, manic, lover to mothering.

You look uncomfortable, all that crying.

Maybe no need for lipstick and lashes.

Maybe it's best you take off your stockings.

Maybe if you ran in your lingerie ... 

     or maybe it's best that you just strip down.

Why not?  This place is burning to the ground.


Why not?  This place is burning to the ground. / The workers are gone, flown off like vultures. / The embers are oily and stark, as black / and vengeful as the eyes of once lovers / now soulless to you in your soulful eyes. / Isn't there something in this heat, this white / ash from our bed of stinging, flightless flies? / Isn't there some flint of wet delight / apart from the fire?  Some cool other shore? / You know that our resolve is lusterlack, / that we, tweenbe, are combusted sutures, / that this blueprint, charred, this foundation, ruined, / this best guess, blown, this parting of the briars, / dangerous, is the smiling face of desire.

first published in the anthology Devouring the Green (Jaded Ibis, 2015)