Expelled from the Temple of Transforming Wisdom

                    ‘Faith does not make me blessed,’ he said, ‘especially not faith in me.[’]

                                        Rags of breath, I am my father’s house


with oracles for eyes, serpents of
sulphur tongue their way through minefields of
æthyr memories bury themselves

in, whispering like vipers writhing
among beetles and other scarab
scavengers nesting under my mind’s

hill of dung, defacing our ancient
cartouche with fangs leeching from its name
any faint legacy remaining

after its glory decayed, choking
the flow of you from filling my tomb
with smiles, vermin sleepless as secrets

turning over hushed needs my desert’s
restlessness keeps unexpressed, without
knees to kneel trails of poison prey on

feelings I grieve for having silenced
before my heart could find them dead, a
decrepit cemetery of a

head weathered from going down to give
so much of it, my nostrils are gates
whining as plumes of incense collide

with them, intense as the shadows of
self-respect I dismissed and resent,
the sense of martyrdom denied its


bartering of life for legend what
condemns him, sun-exposed dust of bone
perfumes my own undoing as I

break it to my husband that I am
not human, that every aching
pinion of my soul’s flight-risk of an

existence is a performance, an
exorcism stripping from my scorned flesh
feathers of attraction whenever

I invite companionship, clipped wings
of feigned interest asking men, ‘Will
you join us for the unsexing of

Venus?’ confusing suitors with a
wealth of unanswered questions, my own
cruelty multitudinous and

mutilating in its veil of crude
symbols none can denude of any
mystery unless, or until, they

truly dig the Self that I dig, hands
making of the blankness of this face
a canvas only their lust’s total

acceptance of my reluctance to
taste love’s flame can paint, embracing his
corpse without shame, both of us take time


to appreciate, graves of cheekbones
bury sweet-tooths in stained kisses of
yellowed phonebooks, my mouth an index

fingers of strangers have traveled, these
bereaved leaves of torn flesh calling home
this feat of death’s, how so alone the

spread pages of these lips remain, yet
my pain still knows how to pray without
opening the purse of its wisdom

to the horseradish breath of decay,
a phantom expelled from the temple
of transforming wisdom, I carry

the doom of our genetics in vain,
an extinguished lantern or a sin-
offering no god-fearing man wants,

my searing heart an echo chamber
relentless ancestors raging in
the chains of their deafness to storm-winds

whistling of change chime always with long
lamenting psalms the lines of their palms
beat onto the drum-skin walls of its

caves, clogging arteries with fogs of
carcinogens no artist’s promise
of catharsis can tame, a tomb of


wounds repeating themselves that I might
marry no one, but in the scarlet
gushing of the curse’s rumour he

courses hard through parts of my body
bloodied by the reality that
they are ones of his own bullets chewed

down into like silver spoons of thorns
bent into weapons no one can blunt
with condolences, entrances and

exits crowned by rings of gun-smoke, and,
in absentia, I know him through
poems that have always spoken to

my soul’s condition, vivid with a
richness of description capturing
the sorrow and longing that come with

a poet’s vocation, running from
a pedagogy of oppression
into a scorched forest of lessons

taught to me by the desolation
of our land, that emptiness at once
desecrates the sanctity of our

sorrow’s sacred properties if we
let fallen men teach us how to love
before we even know how to live.

1Friedrich Nietzsche, “On Poets”, Speech 17 from “Zarathustra’s Speeches” in the Second Part of Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None: Translated and with a Preface by Walter Kaufmann, published at New York by The Modern Library in 1995; page 127.