The Malvolio of the Soul*
There is a melancholy in the finality
of the day, and yet, how interminable
would the burning light be
if it never ended? Try to understand: sigh
onto any scale, and our deepest sorrows
would weigh not an ounce. We are, all of us,
made of night and day, capable
of such sight we choose
to be blind. We reek of the smoke
of burnt offerings from the moment
we’re spat into the gloved hands of brotherhood,
but how soon we forget the taste
of those ashes in the sullen scream
of that first aching desire. We are doomed, then,
to marry the tongs, the cold matrimony
of necessity. The heart reeks of nothing
but blood when severed from the mythology
of the ribcage. But it’s oh so warm in there
and tastes of honey.
Try to understand: the elegance
of the worm, the reliability of impermanence. How similar
the scream of the fox and the laugh of the crow,
the infant’s gas that resembles
laughter. The sun’s master is its setting:
but complain, complain, complain, as soon
as you find willing ears to fill. If thou art virtuous;
there shall be no more cakes and ale. The white stone
of remembrance will remain cold to the touch
though warm to the sight. But don’t look. Instead,
search for that instrument capable of measuring
the weight of a mother’s final breath, the jar
in which to keep le enfant terrible from between
the ears. Better yet: die, and rot. Stimulate
the economy of the soil. It will thank you
with the richesse of digestion. Night soil
will fall and be reborn.
*originally appeared in Tryst.
Munchausen by Insemination**
And now was one to believe that there was nowhere a god of hogs, to whom this hog- personality was precious, to whom these hog-squeals and agonies had a meaning?
–Upton Sinclair, The Jungle
Delilah, I’m afraid I’ll be a father to hogs, snuffling,
curly-tailed little things that grow into rough-skinned
meat. The smell alone puts me off sex. Me,
in my living room, trading pork futures, it, licking the salt
from the hardwood in the hall, squealing toska
when it encounters carpet.
Weekends, we’ll bundle it up to taste the milk-sky settle
over the park with all the other hogfathers, but instead of peeing
on the swing sets, it will nose for truffles. It will never play catch,
other than to eat the ball. Oink me no oinks: I’ve seen them
with their hapless fathers wearing the sad smiles of compassion
and avoiding the eyes of the barbeque dons.
Delilah, I thought I’d left the stink of the farm behind me
when I changed my shoes. I was not a beautiful child;
am I not due beautiful children?
I’ve heard your talk about the velocity of apples, falling,
but my child will eat them from the ground. The only curly bits
I see inside my genes are pink tails. Don’t ask me
to show my teeth: I’ve had them updated to plastic.
I’m no hog, father; let’s not get off topic.
I’m afraid. Who’s to say all progeny won’t be porcine
even without the tusks? Who’s to say even the sweetest
girl-child won’t grow fat on corn and mud-baths? Who’s
to say I won’t father something unrecognizable as even
mammal? Delilah, I’m most afraid the answer to all these
things is pig-hearted me.
**originally appeared in Caper.
No matter how it’s dressed, solace cannot empty
the lungs of fluid, the heart of fire, dumb things
that they are. Say: my fingers have lost their claws
and might as well stroke and soothe. Say: clearly,
all things value what I value, or else of what value
are they? Say: soon, I will be
dead. Look at how clouds form
above our heads. I can taste their whiteness
from here. Can’t you? Can’t you?
But death is only a journey for the undertaker.
All morticians abhor the smell of rotten meat.
The bitter copper that can never be spent
again. I am afraid, Delilah. You don’t
understand: I was meant for more (so much more)
than emptying my blood on the white tile
of the nurse’s eyes. And those perfect
shoes. Let me explain: I have things of value, things
anyone would value: a glimpse of a red fox
trotting along the stone wall behind the kitchen,
a woman’s face in climax, defeat and accomplishment,
wings and puns. Morituri Nolumus Mori. See?
The slow read of our lives must be savored—who
doesn’t agree? Delilah, I need you to sit on the face
of death for just a little while. Tweak his nipples
and call him whole. Just until he feels
wanted. I’m sure it’s not his fault
his teeth are a bit cold. I’d do the same for you. Fair
is fair. (He really thinks you look nice today,
by the way.) Couldn’t you learn to like it? For me?
You’re not picking up what I’m putting down. This guy
over here is special. Someday, he’ll do things none
of us could even imagine. And what
if he doesn’t? What great loss is an empty
grave? Of great use. Believe me, of great use.
***originally appeared in Prick of the Spindle