The Recurring Man

His glittering eyes give him the advantage – even over the intellectuals.
His beard is theoretical.

He’s so smart, she says, all dreamy-eyed.
Hypothetically, I tell her.
She ignores me.
I want a man with strong arms who reads Foucault.
I knew him when his arms were stronger and he read Leviticus.
She ignores me.

His hands are everywhere when he speaks – even on the back of my neck.
His fingers are subliminal.

Give Him a Stone, or Something

That man gave me bread,
dinner rolls like stones from a patriarch,
alumina crust
shredding my teeth as I fed upon preservatives.
He asked that I crush myself in return
for his fuel,
welling like pools of sand in my lungs,
gritty and heavy,
it is the texture of my soul
after he kneaded it with his blunted fingers,
needed it for flavour,
sneaking pieces into the mortar,
so potent they could be used for hallucinations.
I swallowed at first
because I wanted to be gracious;
I was on my knees after all,
determined to be a well-fed activist
even though bilious,
with deep-down rumbling thoughts of insurrection,
visions that led me to believe
the whole time I was grossly mistaken,
unaware that those pieces were fake and
my real soul is light,
unlike those modifications
so dense they could be used as ammunition.
I spat everything in his face,
fearing assimilation
because everyone around him
was a beautiful
misconception of something productive,
trading away pieces of themselves
hoping to become
something definitive,
becoming instead something hard and intangible
something primitive.
I take myself out of the action
to watch these illustrations,
inserting captions.
A woman with swollen knuckles
a man standing before me, buckles
in between them,
something like a child wailing,
mouth so wide I can see into his belly,
so I offer him my little finger
as something to suckle,
only wishing that I could give him something
more filling.
They say spilling your tears is useless,
but it is all I can do
so I make tributaries and put us both in a basket,
hoping it will take us away from
the ferocity, the cemeteries,
the crumbling, self-proclaimed dignitaries
lacking porosity,
with so many delightful answers,
but never a question,
never anything but deception.
Drifting away, we watch everyone become
specks in the distance,
brushing them out of our eyes,
but it isn’t their inability to homogenize,
it isn’t their lies,
but what lies before us, we tell ourselves,
the anticipation of something glorious keeping us
rebellious and alluvial
while everyone else remains delusional.

104. Every Beautiful Thing is Dismantled

Can a sardine and an elephant
sit on a couch,
spread a little gill,
stroke a little tusk,
drink brews and make moves?

Am I really intolerant or are you
a fabulous liar?

Every beautiful thing is dismantled,
left to the scrutiny of
an incredulous mind.

We are dangerous skeptics of
anything good in this world.

In an imperfect world,
can a sardine really ignore
the elephant in the room?

Lead Smile

Her smile is drafted with a clever hand; the lead is freshly pressed.
She doesn’t like anyone touching her lips because she has a thing for crisp edges and smudges drive her crazy.
She pouts when nobody is looking.

God, this feels good, she says.

Sometimes her mouth needs a break from all the heavy lifting.
But when they find her again, she picks up the world with her lips and she is their champion.
She has the ultimate smile.

Incidence

The cherubs look like

bullet holes

against the sun, their tiny wings
beating frantically
as they migrate to more temperate places.
Before the light, his

translucent skin

glows red, revealing the skeleton
inside him.
His eyes are frosty,
but the sun is ineffective and
bends away.
The walls of his prison
are fashioned from the bones of

furious mothers

and held together by translation.

Preservation

Apprehensive this morning, I see everything in shades of grey.
Only your eyes are black.
The air is muted and thin, a moist veil over my body.

I cannot tell you my secrets.
I may break into little pieces.
It could happen today.

But they say I have been crafted well, a bone with a blazing petroleum veneer.

Keep it together
, they say.
We’re not in it together, I tell them.
Forever is something we will never understand.

Inflections

It was the sound of rushing,
pushing bodies onto the ground,
hot, thinly-constructed instruments found
in the hands of ventriloquists

and hands,

hands touching my body like Benny Hinn,
many men wanting to claim success,
feeding me power for a second, filling up my chest
with motivation,
leaving behind a holy mess
claiming they were less
than your average philanthropist
with thick fingers and a crumpled up list
of people to fix,
leaving behind well-dressed skin and bones,
homes for the wasted lips

and hearts,

hearts in this world with nowhere to bleed,
feeding on themselves,
forgotten and placed up high on shelves,
their eyes and cartilage thrown
into the breath of a mother,
another broken fixture
trying to understand why the bigger picture
isn’t so clear,
swallowing her children whole to save them
from their erections
because she doesn’t believe
in inflections.

Headlights

She wanted to be a witch for Halloween, but her mom always dressed her up like a
butter-
fly me to the moon, she said, I don’t want to be just another story for
bed-
time to grow up because nobody likes a
cry-
baby, I love you, he said. I promise I won’t be like them; I promise I’m not a
screw-
up to this point he was sure that she would love him
for-
ever the skeptic, he followed her one day because their conversation wasn’t
straight-
forward thinking wasn’t his forte anymore than
needle-
point me in the right direction, she said, because right now I’m a deer caught in the
head-
lights always made her feel
un-
easy for you to say.

You don’t love him.