YOU CAN TELL BY THE BURNT OUT HALOES
You can tell by the burnt out haloes and copper moondogs
around the match head pupils of her eyes
she’s been digging deep black holes
like a star-nosed mole a graveyard for the fireflies
gathering like a starmap of the extinct creation myths
of dead relatives at the end of a long dark tunnel
she doesn’t recognize anymore except as camouflage
for the ghosts of the lives she disguises for the living
not wanting to violate the innocence of their lies.
She nurses a darkness inside like a tumulus of petro-coke.
There’s no gold in the ore of her suffering, no blood
in the rock. Medusa’s been writing her memoirs
in glacial runes on her heart, and the ashes
of her loveletters read like the hollow urns
of charred dovecotes she’s scattered like the cinders of crows.
I can remember when she was a Pythian oracle
at Delphi, the new moon of a high priestess
alluring as a pole dancer in a snakepit at a strip joint
not this lunar crone who keeps her secrets to herself.
Queen of a street that’s grown so numb to its outrage
it isn’t nearly enough to be merely brutal anymore,
she didn’t get those fangs at a needle exchange.
First crescent kills and the last if she feels like it
heals. She doesn’t dance to the green bough
of a flute the way she used to like a moonrise
of music in the east, but if you make a firestick
of a dead willow branch, sometimes you can see
the ice crack under your feet like a wry smile
of winter on her face thawing out the longer wavelengths
of the knotted snakes in her heartwood. Love shrieks
what it used to whisper clear as a broken mirror.
And the veins of the roses have collapsed like rivers
in a map of the Sahara. She shoots the silver bullet
of an hourglass syringe like a sniper in the desert alone
under her tongue like passage through the slums of the dead.
And all her sacred syllables have gone into exile
like ostrakons she’s given up trying to slash her wrists on.
And her children despise her like a tarpit
on the dark side of their blood and she hardly
seems to care anymore whether they think of her
as prey or predator. She doesn’t have her stomach pumped
for prophets in the belly of a whale anymore
when she comes up for air like a moon with no atmosphere
she can’t cling to for long like a bubble in her bloodstream.
She’s Algol hanging like a bloody chandelier
from the hand of Perseus swinging his trophy like a bell
of depression era glass. And, yes, she’s ugly now,
hallucinogenic as a toad you’d have to lick
like the back of a stamp or the blood seal
on a loveletter to a wax museum. And if you were
to paint the agony of seeing like a tormented soul
that’s weathered her eyes on the widow walk
of a haunted lighthouse, you’d have to do it in encaustic
by a votive candle with a wick of serpent fire
that used to burn like Draco at both ends
among the dragons of desire that wrote her name
in lights that have shadowed her for the rest of her life.
What she knows about being on the receiving end
of human beings with nothing to give to an outcast
would bleed your eyes of the light like leeches
clinging to a vision of life like a scapegoat for the tribe,
smallpox among the natives, infected
by the blanket you committed sexual genocide under
relying on the immunity of your feigned innocence
to protect you as if God were on your side
as you drove her out into the wilderness
like a beautiful wound that came back
in a deathmask of scabby scar tissue to mock you
as if you could ever have made love to a thing like that.
And suddenly you seem uglier than original sin itself.