(Intraverse, Epitaph for a Beginning is a 24-part poem, which will be included in my collection Arclight. I wanted to present it here, uncut, for those who enjoy swallowing their jagged metaphysical fragments whole.)
Bidden by tatters, and gravity’s mutable arc, the palpitations guide me.
They are subtle, duly engaged, a milk-slow run of shivers.
Bracing the rim, I peer out of cavedark: everything is sudden,
color-soaked, a ferocious din and melt,
fringed shawls of plasma groped by wind.
My eyes struggle to adjust.
At first they all seem like vagrant stabs of light, undifferentiated,
and then comes the exact piercing, prayer of motherlight warming my lungs,
as if I’ve swallowed a blush.
I realize, with grave tenderness, that I am being born of this split,
the heir and progeny of absence.
Hers, his: a recursive lineage of fractures.
Ready or not, my history is formed, my destiny fixed—
I am a furious comeback waiting to happen.
She swallows stones,
or is made to—what feels
like a martyred plunge of boulders.
I am, by proxy, crushed.
Is this what is meant by god-dam?
The circulatory flush of light
to dark dammed, and no god gets
in or out, what amounts to a gag order
or mouthless idol
claiming little to no
One of the Echoes stated
that being born is like
drawing silence from blood.
True? False? I cannot tell.
The Echoes resound everywhere,
choral flocks spanning the spectrum
from roar to hush; they are
the vocabulary I have inherited,
as if by default.
It’s hard to gauge with finite
accuracy, but I am aware—
she is growing and I am not.
It is, I suspect,
in my nature
to remain small and wanting,
a grievous flutter or
I get so sleepy
If only they knew
what they called world
was simply a clusterfuck
dreaming of dance partners.
It is both pleasure, and an epitaph to pleasure,
at the same time.
When the phenomena occurs
and the colors run
and slit down upon me
in ravels of deluge.
Spring-green, shell-pink, sky-blue,
bled-red, egg-heaven, grief-yellow.
I, a perpetual guest
to my own seeds
feel at home,
happy prey to a luminous gust,
when the colors cake
and blast through me.
It is then that I no longer fear dry clefted
hollows, or loud leveling booms.
It is lighted proof
that I am not forgotten.
There are no mirrors here,
yet everywhere I see myself,
a bated draft of furls,
each bearing the right
to exist, and respire ably.
I have found
that the impeccable masks
she carves and wears out
with devotional vigor
place me at risk.
By varying turns
and degrees, Intimacy, braised,
grows more distant and endangered
and I with it.
How to stay her hand, or reverse charged currents?
I have tried consulting with the Echoes,
but that was like spitting into bundles of rain,
each droplet anonymous in its gospel
They count the age
with linear tact,
I do not get this.
The digits do not run
static in a fixed course,
they are not soldiers lined up single-file
marching toward common oblivion.
Age bears shoots and novelty, functions in multiples.
You are not six only once,
nor are you exclusively 33
when you come to exist in your thirty-third year.
Age, in its cumulative front,
is amorphous and inherently radical,
its autonomy breaches named conditions
and numbered plots.
Six happens at six,
and at nine, and at seventeen,
and thirty-three, and so on,
its claim contingent upon variables.
And I, sclerotic
in the cradle of a false womb,
cannot be held or christened by age;
there is no past or future,
no number or given name,
for the fates annulled
at childhood’s edge.
Blue sparks, candles, dancing eyes, bright bulbs of gabble and noise, flung garlands of prayer—
today she is seventeen.
Lipsticked, flaps of scent, strong legs, rogue piercings, pageboy cut, black pumps, gallery of masks and knives—
today she enters seventeen, acid and armed to the teeth,
and I, binding coil,
wait in the wings.
In becoming a ghost
to my own medium,
I am drifting toward clemency,
toward the solvency of locks.
The Echoes, of course, refute this,
and in stereo.
They assure me
that no matter how far the drift,
no matter how deep the cleave,
to my own dream of living
is just another slant of haunt
masquerading as exorcism.
A conundrum, with no respite,
I am baffled by the source of the Echoes, and wonder—
Is there more to me than her?
Where exactly do I begin, and end?
Would I cast a shadow upon a wall in a world without?
I continue to drift, unanswered.
I have begun to name and catalogue the different types of dark.
Originally from Brooklyn, NY, writer, poet, spoken word performer, and playwright, John Biscello now lives in Taos, New Mexico. He is the author of three novels: Broken Land, a Brooklyn Tale, Raking the Dust, and Nocturne Variations, and a collection of stories, Freeze Tag.
His fiction and poetry has appeared in: Art Times, nthposition, The Wanderlust Review, Ophelia Street, Caper, Polyphony, Dilate, Militant Roger, Chokecherries, Farmhouse, BENT, The 555 Collective, Instigator, Brass Sopaipilla, The Iconoclast, Adobe Walls, Kansas City Voices, and the Tishman Review. His blog--Notes of an Urban Stray--can be read at johnbiscello.blogspot.com. Broken Land, a Brooklyn Tale was named Underground Book Reviews 2014 Book of the Year.