In the Garden Where All Loves End

Do not be afraid of the demons.
I have waged war with them in the desert
and God has scattered them with his love,
not with my strength.
          —Saint Paul of Tamma1


You try to flatter me
but with the wrong kind of flattery,
‘Are you the architect?’
No, I’m the archetype, don’t even

bother trying, man, your
efforts to connect with me are weak,
aren’t even worth the breath
you waste on speaking to me as if

having more in common
than a taste for dick could possibly
exist, nothing more than
this exchange will be happening, not


unless we each chill, take
a moment to admit what we want
kills us both whenever
we relent to its craving, give in

to this dangerous kiss
the viper tongue twisting behind these
poisonous lips conceals,
this thing we feel might be too much of

not enough, of never
living up, our hearts filling up with
emptiness, all this dark
snuffing out what spark of hope we keep


putting off, burning out
blowing, and being blown by, strangers
whose evasive eyes light
tapers of glimmers torching pages

of nameless neighbours we
never let get to know us, hold us,
embrace us as brothers,
only lovers, knowing this firsthand

and far too well is why
tonight I can’t let you in, knowing
I’ll just do it again
only makes me want nothing, craving


it instead of something
since finding someone with some substance
instead of substances
is more difficult than coming down

from its ruinous high,
this addiction’s mountainous climb now
otherwise known by men
foolish enough to seek its summit

as more complicated
than being atop or bottom its
mystery’s deceptive
peak’s most slippery slope, mist swiftly


following rainbows, so
quickly it goes, before frost with its
knives of knotted fingers
claws at what cracked bell sounds hot, but is

not, fog swallowing like
cold rot does autumnal roses those
quick-wilting, lilting bulbs
dusking themselves off, sick little souls

miserable as your
musk tiptoeing this coarse, thorned path in
the garden where all loves
end, hollow hearts whose urns are mouths, thaws


to limp, sputtering death
every moment spent spitting like
falling stars seeds choking
the dust we walk on, from which heaven

shaped us, punishing filth
with filth, dirty poets scented like
saints whose bones martyrs jacked
for pilgrims to throw fits over, soiled,

sweaty clothes we bear on
our backs, sealed in sacks like death warrants
under black wax burning
the bad flesh down to the blood, fleeing


fast as hounds the echo
of the infinite resonant deep
within us each, if I
let you get lecherous with me then

your headless body might
haunt my fantasies and bearded like
a patriarch, the most
fatherly thing about me is my

utter disregard for
giving you what you want, undaunted
firebrand, experienced
husband wed to the dread prospect of


never marrying, of
never letting down this old guard for
anyone, threatening
my Self with its crippling fatalism’s

definitive promise,
when everyone’s a mural I
make my mark painting with
words talking over them, colouring

louder than any phoned
in stereotype, voice carrying
the pain of others as
if it were my own, wound an echo


instead of a silence
endured alone, impaired by impure
ceremony hiding
in the times we share only in our

minds, a repetition
of blurs to live over and over
out of which no sense can
be made, snowscape that scratches like an

emboldened voice against
a shack’s bolted windows, opening,
enacting, performing
a concert of courage embedding


itself in a spinning
cylinder of wax, here in the world
underground the city
seems distant, a debasement of some

moral high brow’s tower,
establishment metaphorical
& deplorably stifling
as it is unpleasant, disastrous

if together we were
to go back in, for we both have sinned
many times over, so
many times before, we might never


again emerge whole, shards
leaving behind pieces of who we
were, becoming more and
more like common whores accepting as

recompense for our guilt’s
apprehension to lasting love, lust
as fleeting as god’s trust
in us, spilling my guts, as it were,

with a gift of words from
the belly of the well advances
such as yours always fail
to fill, forgive me your empty pail.

1Saint Paul of Tamma, “[Section] III. On the Cell”, [Paragraph] 110, of “[Chapter] 5. Saint Paul of Tamma and the Life of the Cell” in “Part Two: Translations” of Words to Live By: Journeys in Ancient and Modern Egyptian Monasticism: by Tim Vivian: With the Assistance of Apostolos N. Athanassakis, Maged S. A. Mikhail, and Birger A. Pearson, published at Kalamazoo, Michigan by Cistercian Publications in 2005; page 188.