Tear up your documents. Burn your résumés. Toss your crosses and plagiarize your signatures.Wipe the blood and dust off your fingertips, clip wings, clog trumpets, shake the thunder off your clouds. I am this close to yielding in this pilgrimage. Instead of kneeling at the river’s edge, let me drink from all hell and come out alive, just come close. You wear your milestones well but it’s time to put them down. Let the leftover stones of creation dispose themselves another day. Everything turns on itself, dives headfirst into chaos, and yet here we are.
Suddenly I’m all
narcotics. There’s a science
to dishonesty. Here we go
the pen, caged
and wallowing in my own
filth to keep cool.
Let’s see if I can Fitzgerald
my way outta this one,
Cobain with no shame, disguise
everything I have
as wealth. There’s the belt unbuckled
for scourging. Of course I know what I’m doing.
You’re apprehensive, you guess
the sixth sense is up to no good.
At least I take the time
to talk to my ghosts.
The audience is asked to close their eyes. If you are ready to give yourself, stand up, and a blind vote is cast in the name of God. Some stand. Some stay in their seats. Others raise their hands to the ceiling. Others clasp their hands, murmur apologies to the light fixtures, the pipes, the screens, the balcony railings, throw away all unwritten manifestos. Kneel. Drive home. Wrestle with regret, secure a chokehold, stay in place so it stays in place, like a finger weighing down on a piano key to sustain a note. To be carried away by rehearsal. The key is pressed at the cue of the pastor right after he says, Maybe there is something wrong in your family, because everyone has families, because what a relief it is to be born into a love we did not have to choose. Enlightenment at the speed of sound. Every wound in the room closes like a mouth surrendering to silence. I can’t be angry anymore. I’m not allowed to be. Everything is noisy and there have been too many movements for me to recognize a reprise when I hear one. I can no longer speak for everyone when no one pretends to be good. It isn’t that he isn’t there. It’s just that everyone performs silence on his behalf.
After a while, we just get to talking. The point is not so much to be kind,
but accommodating. You kiss my eyelids while I talk about what comes tomorrow,
and I kiss your shoulders while you are fixated on a cigarette, recalling family,
the weight of the intangible. When I fold my body into yours,
like a flower regressing, unblooming into itself, we fill ourselves up
with our facades, compose ourselves with sensation,
in lieu of feeling, and become what we don’t have to apologize for.
Use one mouth to shut the other up. Keep the other from saying sorry.
The drive is long and I can feel
the architecture of the other city slip away
from me. It’s always one at the wheel
and another reading the map. Either one may
stop and stay at some secret hole or crevice,
stand at some ridge or cliff, gawk in a gallery
of antiques—the affair of grabby hands
building on a plot. There we go again,
romanticizing travel. It’s one thing to escape,
it’s another thing to just turn your back.
To be both self-conscious and unapologetic, we are led
by cinema. In the process of unravelling, we re-enact
our favourite tropes: empty bottles, black lungs,
cutting through the city during witching hours,
armed to the teeth with aphorisms.
Neither of us knows if we’re at the rising action,
approaching some great pivot, a shared epiphany.
Maybe we’re on our way down to the denouement,
but when was anything ever straightforward? Our fronts
are similes tiptoeing over a minefield of clichés. It is when
we become witness to each other’s nakedness
when a bomb goes off. We are fictions aware of other fictions.
the new year fell from a tangle of black branches
you cracked it open, stone-smooth
and now we’re wondering
what if islands could move like boats
and what an amazing mind
you must own to have made
a trip so many years
worth (and ahead and armored)
and you exercise this kind of caution
one speck of dust precariously perched
on the hangnail of god
tomorrow wears broken shoes
and makes a mad dash to grab the coattails of yesterday
stand on a rooftop down a few spirits
unbutton your shirt hang on a cross
dig a hole big enough to hold your house
and you think you see the world
why can’t you be where I am
why can’t I be where you are