Friday, February 22, 2013



Sumac in the snow, towers of coagulated blood
for flames, spooky candelabra, what holy day
do your upholstered spearpoints commemorate
that you’ve hung on longer than most leaves
to all these clumsy hearts throughout the winter
like a young woman splaying her fingers
to blow on her nail polish with a witchey smile
of satisfaction in progress? Are you some kind of art?
Weird gate? A pitchfork in the hands of a crone
with blood on its tines, horns that gored the matador,
burnt burgundy on shamanic antlers guling
down the heel of a paint brush, a mix of alizarin crimson
and night like a maternal Payne’s grey you’re using
to paint a bestiary of enraptured totems on a cave wall?

Where are you going with all your punky torches,
what are you trying to keep alight? Did you lose
something in the woods you’re trying to find
like me intrigued by the way you’ve gone
divining for it like a dishevelled matchbook
for a watershed? Or is that just the way
you coat your nerve endings in red teloremes
to keep your dna from fraying like a strong rope
into a million weak threads? Occultly organic,
what kind of ritual are you that your arms
are stained by wine like evening gloves
up to your elbows as if you’d been pressing wine?

Surrealist phoenix in the spring, the fledgling feathers
of your tender green leaves, the antediluvian wingspan
of a creature that survived the flood by flying over it
like cometary fire in a blaze of blood.
Have you seen October sumac set its wings afire?
I wrote that line when I was twenty-two,
and trying to do the same thing you were
in the autumn rain as if I’d just stolen something
crucial from the gods. A secret of fire I had to master
before they began to miss it like a candle
as if seeing were the first fundamental of love
not even the cold shoulder of the wind
has been able to put out over the lightyears
of heretical fires it’s been trying to rehabilitate
by piling pyres of brambles at its feet
and breathing on them at the auto de fe
of an incorrigibly inflammable martyr
to its own lost cause. Burn through everything
in the dead of winter like a first magnitude star
of white phosphorus that puts the burning snow
to shame like fire dancing on the water in a jester’s cap
because love gets away with the most incredible thefts.

May the altar of the rock never come, the vultures
and the chains, the stem cells of the renewable liver
the undertakers haruspicate by then eat
as if they wanted to consume the same signs
of courage you had to steal life out of the mouth of death
like a secret syllable of fire you fan with every breath
to live like a dragon rising out of the firepit
of its own ashes like the lightning strike
of a forked witching wand with a tongue of serpent fire
tasting spring in the air like the touchy tendrils of a solar flare.


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