(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.
Warm-dark, cave-dark, void-dark, womb-dark, sleep-dark,
Eros-dark, blank-dark, siege-dark,
and there is the anonymous dark that gets in your head
and behind your eyes and in your lungs and constricts your breathing;
curse-dark, which casts a heavy prolonged spell, a pall;
there is also lonely. Naming it doesn’t help, not in the same way.
Gnashing, teething, bristling, ranting, raving—
all, in this momentary wreck, becomes black with tumult.
It is the dark I forgot to name.
Wafting from afar,
the intimate rumor of a divine toy,
a cryptic plaything, implications in tow.
and pacifier of blank rages;
buoy and anti-freeze
to sudden plunges
into sub-zero climate.
These conditions cannot be bested,
but they can be met.
If, and here’s where pressure takes root,
if we were in possession of this divine toy,
this cryptic plaything, which may only be
the waning flicker of legend, of evidence withheld.
Seized, I am in the ripe
feral grip of the new language
she is speaking. Her voice
fronting a glassy, ciphered edge, a grifting menace.
Every calculated utterance bears double and triple meaning,
with common intent to baffle,
disarm, intrigue, estrange; a misleading
skein of confession.
In a sense, her unwitting compulsion
to protect me is the root-cause of her
language, its architecture and vents.
If only she could
abide the silence
long enough to exact
the necessary vigil;
if only she didn’t consign
my pink to arson.
To become more or less
human, and right now I am less,
much less, palsied, unlit, a compulsory golem
riveting shallows and depths.
It came to me, a pensive glean, a vision.
Tomorrowtime when we, the Inners, will no longer just be metaphysical whispers
or codified concepts.
Tomorrowtime when the Outers will have found the means to extrapolate us,
to call us into the world of appetite and elemental yen
(e.g., how light and air cherish in unison).
We will gather as gnostic rumors confirmed as true.
Our caretakers will be directly confronted by the gestalt of our lives,
by our stasis and afflictions.
Brood to their former distances, they will grow nearer to us;
they will live as bright apologies to our scars;
they will sorrow for a long long spell, every last fracture recalling its grief;
and we, barrowing the course of right rain, will come to master
how light and air cherish in unison.
So much light
Today, today, today, today, today, today,
this drumbeat I sometimes try and divide into equal sections
Yet it is like swimming across an encyclopedia
of sea to vet and speciously catalog
rounds of waves—this one this, this one that;
continuity of a jaded gag.
Blindly, blindly, blindly,
she reaps every choice
from my scythe and asking.
I live with brute innocence
and murder in her heart.
I am not her child,
I am her fiction,
her sad fable
and paling wrath.
I. Honeymoon, forever, ballad, veil, bond, forever again—I am
caving beneath terms that she is repeatedly packing into the hollows.
It is a new kind of spell, whorling and vestal.
II. Perhaps it is the wrong kind of spell,
not to be trusted.
III. The words, as aural emblems, became real.
She, in bright ceremony, matched her absences,
with fidelity and crux, to someone else’s.
IV. Honeymoon, forever, ballad, veil, bond, forever again;
my language has become canticle
to a lighted theme.
V. She is flush and expectant with dream,
and together we tumble toward
an impossible arc.
Story-dark. I have named a new one.
VI. The hollows flood
and brim with a wheeling geometry
of vibrant colors
in which I bathe.
VII. When gesture and symmetry
become one and the same,
Intimacy is moved
VIII. I listen to them talk,
like tolling vespers,
like a warm robe of sound
in which I nestle
IX. The days lean against each other,
a staggered verisimilitude.
The ennobling of Legacy
has fast become
a dependency of tatters
X. Honeymoon, forever, ballad, veil, bond, forever again—
Map to her old scars,
I pitch these words,
void of testament,
into a smoldering hollow;
what the flames don’t devour,
the Echoes will scavenge.
The cited erring
of will and bones,
she has taken leave
of Memory to become
a spectacle of caution.
Rote, exacting, severe,
everything in its place, just so,
to enable function,
and I, the feathery cringe
at the bottom of her fear,
am held, with contempt,
to the highest standard.
In a vain attempt,
she corseted herself in green wind
and cellophane, votive
to a thin whip of air.
As she lay there,
colors emptying to gray,
before the round voices
and fast hands came,
she fell in
and saw me for the first time,
not as fiction or sad fable,
but as a soiled fact
that had been abandoned to peril.
Every last knife and mask slowed to weeping,
venting a silvery glean.
There is an epitaph marking
the life we have lived
from the ones we have not.
This is where I begin
to separate the words
from their cause,
running on, unfinished,
end to start.