Forgiven by Someone You Want to Forget

     [W]e only become what we are
     by the radical and deep-seated refusal
     of that which others have made us.

     That is how I learned that if I didn’t
     define myself for myself, I would be
     crunched into other people’s fantasies
     for me and eaten alive.

                    i. Riddling the Sphinx

Your house is a corpse whose reward is to be burned
     to ashes, an abandoned body
a demanding temple reanimated and
now inhabits, an altar of a carcass where
nature asks to be reverenced, a ruin in
     rapport with the curse your love disturbs,
queen of swords drawing another card throwing off
course suitors armed with bitter words, emperors you
slaughter with visions of empires after your glimpse
     has shattered them into splintered shards,
dark matter without spirit, dweller in the void,
fading beauty’s relentless glamour sitting in
chains, embracing the pain of time’s ignorance of
     your feigned antiheroism’s claims of
forsaken fame, you are every man’s last dance,
a clouded past who smokes cloves and winks at him in
the dark, waiting for a second chance, stinking breath
     squatting in tombs of mouths kisses bless,
lips know well your promise’s insignificance,
singing her way through your imprisonment’s damage,
siren déjà vu gives me a view of danger
     in exchange for the collateral

of our lie’s truth, showing my name emblazoned on
every tomb, from my dream of moving through you
waking anew to a fate as grave as a bolt
     falling from heaven, coming unglued
in the presence of seven nude maskim who go
against the sun dancing widdershins on the heads
of pins the pounding of their fists and panting of
     their chants hits into pavement, drumming
disease into me, each weeps, dropping globes of some
sulphurous substance not volatile enough to
taste of love, acrid tears of rust shaken out of
     pricks onto my flesh, an offering
of skin sick skies circle until I acknowledge
sticking around so long as we have has been our
demise, the going in and never giving in
     again and again what licks thin with
the rawness of a whip this mirage I thought I
had mastered, the rancorous candour of this grin’s
chancre touching them all with a soreness of soul
     the world’s swollen hordes at once adore
and abhor, pages dripping with tears of hyssop
burn with the angst of a prophet knowing all words

have three meanings, verbs resplendent and redolent
     with the perfume of secrets, not one
of which means ‘to cure’, to be sure, that is the curse
of existence, to remain in your memory
like a great regret, to get what you refuse to
     give, yet, if nothing which is written
is lost, then a book which speaks by making us think
cannot cost its author much, so why do you know
what others ignore? Since fear attracts bullets and
     divulging the secret of life brings
death, is that why, harpy of a soul, your voiceless
hole gives wings to contagion? O, I know you find
pleasure in leaving me like this, questioning things—
     to create light I only have to
imagine shadow, those eyes like Achilles’ shield,
all things in heaven and on earth revealed in an
instant reflecting being and nothingness, our
     death is the kingship of Œdipus,
putting up with enough until it blinds us, he
saw what man is and blinded himself so he would
not have to see what god is: a mirror laughing
     at me, echoing infinity.

                    ii. With Bullets

     When my father died it killed something
in me, a friend is an enemy you just
haven’t made yet, a son is a legacy
for whom misquotation is a menace that
     tastes nothing like immortality
     but something more like four hours ago
     or yesterday, sweat traveling thighs
as the desert’s monumental tongues baptize
the sides of obelisks, mercury rising
as my own barometers your prize, I am
     a flame-haired saviour whose lips crackle
     like sizzling filaments when laid like
     healing hands on the brittle gristle
of you surrogates I call my ‘dads’, those burn-
outs whose bottomed-out politics of glass brash

firing squads whine against since glimpses of our
     past are easier to savour when
     we stop trying to save our Selves from
     the bitter flavour of their cut and
break attraction’s laws to get bitten by what
we want, a lap through the zodiac is no
sprint down the rabid hole, ‘Get some booty in
     the bushes before some boy pushes
     you into marriage’ was our mantra
     until we wanted it too bad, this
love the stars fated us never to have, this
marathon galvanizing from outside our
galaxies of emptiness within, salting
     the rim of wounds with oceans of tears
     we call constellations until we

     can no longer trace this ancient pain’s
alien origin, and far too estranged
from heaven’s gates, I am definitely not
the poster-boy of a generation but
     of damage, plastering my face on
     baggage I wish I could jettison
     from this sinking inconvenience
of existing, a Nihilist convinced that
living is worth giving a shit about when
forgiven by someone I want to forget—
     my Self—or a vague version of it
     before enlightenment bound and gagged
     then dragged the simulacrum into
my mind’s backroom and shot it up until love
spilled and filled my head with hindsight’s warm wisdom.

1Jean-Paul Sartre, “Preface” in Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth: Preface by Jean-Paul Sartre: Translated from the French by Constance Farrington, published at New York by Grove Press, Inc. in 1965; page 15.
2Audre Lorde, “Learning from the 60s”, a talk delivered at the Malcolm X Weekend hosted by Harvard University in February 1982, in Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde, published at Berkeley by Crossing Press in 2007; page 137.