Invoke & Invert

I want to pray
To anything that doesn’t know prayer.


Topple your incense into an obelisk of
thirst, discourage ashes from working their magic
against your face’s blank canvas, go forth
wounded in your wandering without trampling the
paradise of another’s perfect world, without breaking
open the kernel of your soul’s silence,
without arousing the sighing seed of its
unspoken truth lest you greet prematurely your
aborted rebirth, refute as ungospel the terrible
news of a forlorn foreign messenger your
long overdue undoing has sent to catch
up with you, refuse to own it,
clothe or nurture it, but turn not
your toes from the burn of the
kohl’s defiance, its blackness mirrors the vanity
of a universe whose conceit is that
the fate of its vastness is to
always be expanding into the cold embrace
of emptiness, the zodiac a thousand-eyed witness
winking at it as you have at
those who have less, death by heat
seems admirable, then, to the dishonourable, oblivion’s
anonymous millions wished for better than this,


and you have the best, blessed with
more than second and third chances, but
choices, so will you choose to live
through this or abandon ship to sink
into the depths of a pit of
your own making, taking with you everything
but what you took for granted, in
other words, will you survive self-denial and
emerge enlightened, or invoke the name of
The Creator and invert Creation to come
up with nothing? That is what every
monument has been asking since the beginning,
when man first realized he might not
be remembered by those who come after
him, attacking his memory he has tasked
himself with being so busy attaching to
temples of stone and flesh, when it
is only the spirit which never perishes,
in this way love never vanishes, even
after its kisses have vandalized the hearts
of those its damages have scandalized, will
you choose the desert or will you
choose life to honour with your presence?

1Adonis, “The Crow’s Quill”, [Section] 3[, Stanza 8, Lines 38–39], in “The World’s Edge” of Songs of Mihyar the Damascene: Introduction by Robyn Creswell: Translated from the Arabic by Kareem James Abu-Zeid and Ivan Eubanks, published at New York by New Directions Publishing in 2019; page 178.