The Importance of Seeing the Skull beneath the Skin

                              Fig. I: Never Mention Rope
                                                       in the House of a Hanged Man

The prose of pain, that most incendiary
     of stains, igniting words to flame, syllables
     taking a name from oiled paper, wasting it
     into tears ashes claim dumbstruck, their Nile-kohl
     glances falling onto mine like cyanide-
     flavoured fathers, bromine-laced mothers sighing,
     identifying my talents bawdy, each
     uncertain if their claim with feigned conviction
     will sweep all of my works into a blanker
     account, or keep from them pride, calling out to
     neighbours I was, in fact, that son, the odd one,
     who always wrote and spoke only to, or of,
     unholy boys, painting icons of guys whose
     swollen heads broke their halos like the eggs whose
     yolks fed his wet tempera, writing legends—
     catastrophic apocalypses drenched in
     breakfast thickness, the richness of imagined

                              Fig. II: Before Most People
                                                       Begin to Burn

love as punitive as it is sickening,
     unrequited like bled condiments, this child/
     fallen angel’s parents condemn him, the two
     refusing to confirm his name; instead, in
     the morgue, when the medical examiner
     wafts insensitively out of the door, that
     callous cabal of my father and mother
     take up a jar of formaldehyde, and both
     forests of their tangled claws holding it, they
     pour—onto my unidentified figure
     a salve to absolve my truant soul of its
     wicked humanity, to solve its blurry
     impurity with a mystic synthetic
     solution, and before the underworld’s own
     blessèd doctor can return, my doubting pair
     of aberrant parents strike a light, furrowed
     brows and reliefs of sighs inciting a glow,

                              Fig. III: Naked Flames

a riotous inferno to white-out my
     flesh along the disgraced path traced by their spill’s
     chemical trickle, and cascading their great
     hatred for me in enveloped intervals
     of chuckles laid atop the hissing, lit
     spectacle of my corpus crisping under
     fluorescents, my pain escapes, sparing the whole
     hospital, its tomb’s laundered cache of exhumed/
     mutilated mutes, their lettered opener,
     and the few whose lips praised what my pages said;
     instead, my immolation’s slitting my sick
     parents’ accompliced embrace, shaking them both
     apart in a rip, sending them backward in
     what hits without hint the knife-prick split of a
     second chance at repentance, into a stacked
     cabinet of specimens and dilutions,
     rolling apart, away from the slab of my

                              Fig. IV: Living-Out the Archetype
                                                       of Fire-Starter

sterile crypt, from the table in the center
     of the stainless—blameless—steel room, tumbling through
     into a gas chamber of a cold alcove
     propane valves work-over like prick-thin showgirls
     after tips in the glittering shell of a
     shiny, sell-out auditorium floor-show
     the only capacity audience of
     which is a row-upon-row of cadavers
     delicately stitched, ditched inside publicly-
     funded fridges, as if their silent, chilling
     performance could benefit all the more from
     my corpse’s shriveling appearance, and as
     my parents get a grip, having slipped aghast
     of the fumes they exploded, they fail to reel-
     in their fickle breath as it swims the noxious
     shoal of the fine situation they now find
     themselves racing to erase themselves well from

                              Fig. V: Ignite the Chemical Choir

having partaken, gasping as their worst of
     amateur cremations blows up the entire
     ward in its basement pit, inadequately
     equipped to handle petty familial
     ferocity, patriarch and matriarch
     scream bottomless blues not into, but through, these
     lips their murderous indignation refused
     to kiss; only soulfully conscious, I pray
     and dictate to my genius, over and through
     that most volatile liquor of afterlife
     æther, which is at once so marvelous and
     spirituous, this singed epistle, this charred
     apologia for a crime I did not
     commit—the cardinal transgression of a
     son rising up from his birthright’s prison and
     finding, and greeting, then freeing himself by
     expressing, and living, his mind’s own vision.