To Sustain the Weary with a Word

                    i. Acherontia lachesis

                                        An opened wound never closes,
like an all-night diner where Cancers eat Libras,
          parasites with wide eyes weighing
lives neither realizes consumed both so long
          ago, before time was unmoved
and proved entirely cruel, before its awful,
          canned applause scarred hour-hands pouring
stale beer, arthritic claws sore and soured from tending
          bar in this crevice on the edge

of one whore’s town, this dive a seven days’ drive from
          Babylon, where blind charlatans
cavort and caravan, where morals relax their
          muscle and hole-up with canceled
dreams, slurring together through harlequin anthems,
          stitching together thin songs in
a quilted chorus coughing what such lushes should
          know fails to cushion any blow,
that a dirge is a dirge even if wrapped in words

          bellowed to cover up vagrants’
unrepentant sorrow, here where eternity
          slows visions of what were once souls,
devouring their way out of their cocoons of skin,
          filth-tinged sinners weighted down with
ashen chagrin, a plague of pests unable or
          unwilling to lift their heads, these
wounded mortal shells whose jaws crave and carve raw flesh,
          poison-choked locusts raising each

                    ii. Calliphora vomitoria

a glass out of some hell, barely living, almost
          thriving on the thing, the bitter,
unproven conviction that from his fate’s prison,
          the poet writes himself into
a renewed state of grace, sweating-winged cicadas
          toasting the frigid place, ‘We who
came to this bughouse to practice Ezrology
          found Pound abounding in wisdom,
surrounded by misery,’ each b(r)east’s tear-pierced heart

          opening up like an anthill,
an earthen mound, out of which pain’s vomiting fits
          of oyster-slick maggots spitting
anguish tremble like epileptics, shivering
          in the shadow of their own doubt,
trembling but knowing as Curtin did,1 that ‘Without
          poetry we are dead: with it
we die living,’ and as that prophet illumined,
          verse kills not those who feel it bite

through silence, but the silent whose knives imagined
          crimes blunt, ignorance closing minds
and dividing kingdoms inferior beings
          find themselves dying in, without
ever finding the reason for their suffering,
          flies laying their eggs where they know
that no thoughts will disturb them, barren heads hollowed
          of what revives men wounds swallowed,
pens, not swords, sustaining the weary with a word.

1Edward Curtin, “Without Poetry We are Dead: With It We Die Living”, an online article published digitally by The Centre for Research on Globalization on February 15, 2017, in the Culture, Society & History section of its official website, Global Research.