Beneath the Mountain

And there are those who believe that when men have been buried
and their spines decay, the marrow turns into a serpent.


Daughter of Sulphur, there is a place
for us in the darkness of my
heart where, when you dip your wood
into the water of my tears, it
catches fire. Suffering sings of unquenched, serpent-footed
desire, a forest denying its roots of


barbed wire a glimpse of daylit miles
of paths they pass under, scratches of
lovers they will never harass the way
barefoot craving does their task, caressing blades
of grass without asking, carving chaste again
that flesh autumn’s breath refreshes, hear this


wilderness talk of how what we want
is not what its artworks are: natural.
I fear more than anything a world
without meaning. No, I am not in
a band, nor am I in a
bind, bound, perhaps, only by the bonds


of this fondness for you, you are
failing at feeling or seeing, cannot even
recognize. A freak who fucks for free,
you had me when you said of
me, so astutely, ‘Baby, if your pussy’s
a playhouse, then my cock’s a standing


ovation,’ impurest poetry, filling me to bursting
with pejorative thirsting for your crudity’s crass
elision, my mind stirred to collision with
whatever we both are thinking but excluding
from this equation, what little something keeps
my pulse thumping, always on the verge


of erupting, but never meeting. With the
crippling urgency of the worst anticipatory anxiety,
hurt me, please, before I bury us
both in ashes choking on our story,
bathing us in tragedy so matter-of-factly. This
truth is only quickening, radiating and radial,


limpening wrists with the lilting of its
lisp whispering accusations, fingering blame only your
fists can deny with such silence martyring
me in its breaking. Ground me in
my quaking before I wake desire’s draining,
feel your breath’s heat beneath the mountain.

1Ovid, “The teachings of Pythagoras” in “Book XV: Prophetic Acts and Visionary Dreams”, [Lines 450–451], of Metamorphoses: Translated and with Notes by Charles Martin: Introduction by Bernard Knox, published at New York by W. W. Norton & Company in 2005; page 534.