Nonpareil

After all, he was only [you] a second time in the flesh,
endowed in his transmutation with
a mouth of gold and a wider casual knowledge[…]
          —Waite1

                    *

[…]and my mouth praises you with joyful lips
when I think of you on my bed[…]
          —Ps 63:5–62

                    Hour I

Sweating under a moon
in the reflected light
of whom our braying fears
either deprive or guide
us, dog and wolf prowling
on a war-like errand
twist your halo’s neon
nimbus into a wound
whose lemniscate bend no
underhanded shuffling

                    Hour II

of menacing fate’s cruel
deck can undo, jugglers
brandishing karmic claws
applaud and maul rebels
whose jaws have lost their tooth,
uppercut down through to
the quick those animals
whose own animus my
love’s touch has diminished,
what’s left of the fight in

                    Hour III

us drives wild before fire’s
flight leaves tame these beasts who
howl through the ash-blackened
night with no end in sight
a moan which sounds for blind
owls, lest they divine its
origin, the aching
hours of an oracle
ancient roots entangle
tongues to sprout languages

                    Hour IV

whose words this prophecy
fulfills, vaguest phrases
the painted sentiments
of which pant in laboured
rhythms boding us both
so ill until we wake
from this illusion’s dream,
quell its fever, and see
when cedar day breaks its
oaken oath invoking

                    Hour V

epiphany’s force, creaks
hard into groaning truth
the splinter-pierced hurt of
a forest’s darkest heart
opening up, pulling
itself wide apart, for
the warm, ivory-vined
fingers of day, brilliant
tongues of flame lapping up
its wisdom, laughing at

                    Hour VI

us both knowing a man’s
body is like the Tree
of Life, his spine’s column
a Ladder of Lights lined
with ten erogenous
zones twenty-two paths of
energy connect, yet
the pleasure of a mouth’s
breath suffering second
death greeting ecstasy

                    Hour VII

in the intensity
of knowing so closely
every sephira’s
secret is victory
this battle denies us,
nonpareil, my equal
without equal, what was
once mysterious has
become so commonplace,
in such endless embrace

                    Hour VIII

one’s image throws its shape
often enough that change
of pace does nothing but
hasten until it fades
from time and space all trace
of your touch’s tempting
memory, getting used
to being my Self has
proven our enemy,
testing flesh’s patience

                    Hour IX

with chastening licks as
if giving in to this
again would vanquish us,
but love already has
and loving what part of
me you said no one else
would emboldens the fist
of the god within, that
left-handed guitarist
whose gift is a talent

                    Hour X

for stringing up liars
with such lightning-witted
lyrics myth perishes,
fashioning anew one
which is a hit among
every one of your
other victims that sour
kiss convinced was worthless,
I am my own kindred,
my soul’s inheritance

                    Hour XI

more than any mortal
vessel can hold, what pours
it pains me no more to
own, to write not only
of what you have taken
but that which I owe, to
forgive, as much as be
forgiven by, the thief
of one night which seemed my
life your lips parted with.

__________
1A. E. Waite, “Part I: The Veil and its Symbols: Section 4. The Tarot in History” of The Pictorial Key to the Tarot: With 78 Plates, illustrating the Greater and Lesser Arcana, from designs by Pamela Colman Smith, published at Mineola, New York by Dover Publications, Inc. in 2018; page 27.
2“The Psalms: Book II”, [Chapter] 63[, Verses] 5–6, in “The Hebrew Scriptures Commonly Called the Old Testament: New Revised Standard Version” of The Holy Bible: containing the Old and New Testaments with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books: New Revised Standard Version, published at New York by Oxford University Press in 1989; page 582.