Trimming the Lamps of the Idols


You who let me sink my northern roots deep
into your southern soul, whose hands
massaged my own in a bowl of sperm whale
oil, sailors by lamplight waxing
immortal, even if only until
both fading into sobering
morning, soldiering on in each other’s
arms holier without any
war’s glory, you who beat me off my track,
whispered ‘Never look back,’ battling

often enough ever since demons I
thought we vanquished together, in
your absence a victim of circumstance,
I find my Self lost again, steel
softening into tears for you, my beard
sopping with them, molten feelings
emboldening my heart’s wounds to be heard,
wanting to open for you, truth
be told, in the urgency of my loss
my sobbing wanting nothing but


to acquaint the world with your name, to paint
with words a wealth for the blessing
of which I cannot account, not now, not
yet, to introduce to my work’s
audience my Muse, you who tamed what I
could not conquer, you who taught me
every question’s answer wandered no
farther from the head than the heart,
was no stranger or stronger than a thought,
that this mouth is a guesthouse on

the way, a vacancy in between times
yours filled with a kiss, wrapped in its
breath what no one else but you convinced me
to trust, that what I am here for,
why I even exist, is to express
for others everything they
have yet to experience, that I should
be less incredulous, just get
over it, and simply believe there is
no greater aphrodisiac


than being homesick for the one whose warm
memory lives in every
opportunity I miss, that even
if no one else ever gets this,
I should never stop giving my all to
scribing these scrolls the warmth of your
tongue’s voice unrolled, opening my heart like a door
to pour forth what no floodgate can
close so that those touched with fire know before
it burns what took so long for me

to learn, how you taught me to trim the lamps
of my idols without letting
them fall from their altars, to swallow all
of my pride’s gall and never wet
my lips with another’s bitterness, not
even if I fail, that this is
real even if its sails are only just
paper and this ship is one my
hand steers with a pen instead of a wheel,
tears of ink the sea your love yields.