Still Life with Blackening Apples

We must then be on guard against any base desire,
because death is stationed near the gateway of pleasure.
          —Saint Benedict of Nursia (RB 7:24)1


Besotted with Nordic darkness,
a voice like vapour and a tongue
like a viper, authoring rot
under a two-stepping live-nude
neon-profuse moon programmed to
go with the flow of only her
own emotions, intuiting
a new movement and refusing
to reflect the distant spotlight

of the sun, festooned with white drops
of Jupiter dripping down her
crescent’s ellipse like a father’s
benevolent kisses, waxing
into a sweating cavern where
the wickedness of every
snuffed candle’s wettest end resounds,
resplendent whispers redolent
with Saturn’s burnt-sulphur perfume

performing retribution well,
correspondences time will tell
on one of those drowned nights no one
understands or even wants to
come to comprehend, as if we
ever can, in an artisan’s
competent hands never broken,
not yet, by dissenting opinion,
in his judgment he thought it


best not to question tradition
but to interrogate its
untested intentions, to extend
the shelf-life of truth expanding
consciousness with an unmuted
palette subduing confusion’s
puzzling of pleasure with puddles
of his glimpse’s firsthand azure,
what renewed point-of-you never

again another’s anathema
of impurity can offend,
his brush will recover from
Scripture’s pen’s certain death what will
blacken over its bleakness with
an ancient aching’s eventual
stillness, breaking sin’s heat-wave
with Eden’s rotten apples, what
Adam walked in on when Eve dropped

her bombshell and we all, as an
entire people, dropped the ball, in
evil’s clutches ever since then,
miserable degenerates’
development inhibited
by having no inhibitions,
on this occasion his making
of a statement from the colours
of silence awakens us to


wisdom in a way only dust
kicked up by devils can present,
filth biting breath into new life
with a depiction of his flesh
which must be depressing enough
to distil to tearful mist hearts
which a mind has hidden behind
walls of ice, to melt until it
fills a Coca-Cola bottle

a fading soul whose painful pull
from the flesh apotheosis
justifies well, its wounds foretell
he is here only to fulfill
a prophecy, this artist, he
bleeds experience, knew when to
flee and fled when what he saw had
no depth, descended one last time,
survived, wept for the loss of his

friend, let the sword fall from his side,
got dressed, made his bed, acknowledged his
defeat and exited stage-left,
exiled himself from the garden
of Paradise and never looked
back again, led by the lion
of his better judgment whose tail
wiped from sight their footprints leading
them toward a kind of freedom


unfettered by oppressive choice,
when free love was a soft lie he
no longer could pretend that this
was what he wanted, knowledge of
a stranger’s body was not so
exotic as the esoteric
over which scholars triumph,
a climax more deserving of
his efforts’ attention and worth

its challenge, an end captured at
its beginning, a burned picture
painting pure its hurt’s transition
from remorse to redemption through
pain, an exchange of glances which
changes the tragic waste of nameless
embraces, as if by magic,
to catharsis we need to face day,
there are worse things to commit to

collective memory, beard of
serpents, Medusan son of myth,
every tendril is a lick
of the master’s whip slaves on
this galley ship each trick themselves
into believing disciplines
their skin against rebelling, though
really, we keep on sinning
because salvation needs transgression.

1Saint Benedict of Nursia, “The Rule of Saint Benedict: Chapter 7. Humility”, [Verse] 24, in RB1980: The Rule of St. Benedict in English: Editor Timothy Fry: Associate Editors Imogene Baker, Timothy Horner, Augusta Raabe, Mark Sheridan, published at Collegeville, Minnesota by The Liturgical Press in 1982; page 34.