Coin of the Realm

An inheritance of arrogance
that taught us not to weep, but to keep
each our heart’s silence, finally speaks—

an underwhelming exchange of st(r)rained
glances makes of indiscreet men those
windows we whose shadows throw against

them shapes our needs would rather keep straight—
moonlight’s assassins of angles bent
on rectifying before we can

hide them, what secrets lives tucked behind
gas-lit alibis deny, what coin
of the realm buys time until smiles fade

from what path lies paved, and between lines
maps retrace our mouths’ grinning missteps
all the way back to their legend’s sad

origin, sin’s toll taking from souls
a truth no one’s buying, not unless
or until we face our myth and kick

in its teeth this kiss that keeps gnawing
at us, knowing no one believes them
who believe in seeking love where lust

frequents, darkening empty streets like
storms where, without warning, temptation
takes from seas their continence, from hard

sailors their heads’ conscience, and winded,
tempests of unrepentant men rise
from weakened knees, flooded from having

blown a hurricane of angel-faced
devils whose names will never be known,
shame’s code hiding guilt we bargain with.