And Fire Bloomed like a Scar from Its Mouth (But It Went Out)

Since then I have pretended ease,
loved with the trickeries of need, but not enough[.]


Each face a folding into seams,
bending to atelectasis
until tasteless fading kisses
escaping from collapsed lungs, screams
from hazy images of men—
obnoxious, vacuous, vapid,
quick to come, quicker to vanish—
those inadequate extensions

of my aching weakness for them
I refuse to look upon. Each
Muse developing complexes
useless after used up, faux though
fun until someone chooses to
eye another before I do,
then it’s done. Off with wherever
we were headed once, there is no

substance left to devour—no danger,
then—of a lingering stranger’s
oddly familiar embrace from
which to run with abandon. No
risk of becoming more-than-friends,
exchanging names for the first time
at the gates of some happily-
ever-after labyrinth those

tired angels of their innocence
defend against my fire’s bitter
judgment—no, sirs—I am not your
comforter. Neither soft throat to
protect from stubbled caresses
nor rising horizon toward
which to venture together, there
is something far beyond being

better than all the others you’ve
ever had, something not to be
said but left unspoken when it
comes to this. This leeching of ill
feelings, its bloodletting bleeding
me free of any reason to
conceal my neediness since in
this arena seeking to be


wanted’s part of the appeal. No
possibility of failing
to meet cheap expectations my
wealth of illusion exceeds, this
promiscuity’s a blessing—
a gift free of disguise—bedding
of demons at which I excel,
a real devil’s ritual this

wedding without commitment must
seem. Each evening spent making love
a little exorcism stilling
wholesale lost souls who, in their globes,
find, if not a sense of home, then
theatres in which to perform
over and over ’til morning
desire’s recurring war. Rolling,

if not in dough, in victories
which fill one with memories to
burn through on nights not so wild. Like
attracting as it does like, meat
is bread for the flesh, sustenance
for the loneliest ravenous
whose taste return to the world spoils.
Beasts tonguing my stormy bowl less

tempestuous, heat steaming its
windows of my eyes with newfound
mindfulness, on you have I dined.
Mutual unkindness leaving
my skull messed with just enough, it’s
all about the mind-fuck, to touch
from inside and not be touched by
the swindle itself swindling us.

Don’t act so surprised, we arrived
prepared to part, to divide lives
and live our separate lies, not
left with any guilt but what I
already possessed. You wanted
to experience how queer, how
sweet this exchange of relics no
one can heal or translate is, its


reciprocal resurrection
a deal resulting in proscribed
repentance. Though I fill you with
my emptiness and call you all
father, this is not confession,
hearts are slaughtered on this altar.
Beware of whom you fall for. No,
I am not your sun, going down

and getting up to way too much
trouble to be reliable.
A raving lunatic whose
most lucrative of so many
talents hidden in this bag of
bones which tricks dig is appearing
fully functional—it must be
god-given, they say—though I’m not

so personable. Too aloof,
too individual, a wound.
Emotionally crippled with
no community interest
or benefit, a narcissist
averse to seeing whole my Self
mirrored in less complicated,
less fortunate people. A fringed

tapestry of such intricate,
ingrained animosity whose
strained, arcane, antagonistic
artistry alienates with
its impossibility to
relate. Insanity’s saving
grace is talent—yes—yet I’m too
liminal to be surrounded

by images constellating
like drops of wax into broken-
voiced phonographs. Moonstruck dirgeing
sycophants holding hands until
their vigil ends in brandishing
candles to torch my pages with,
daft villagers finding in my
expressions what they lack. No, I


do not care for them, I act as
I do to repair what in me
no one cares to tend, or can. My
wonder’s constancy consists of
persisting as a distant star
whose flicker cannot be fixed. I
am wicked, indifferent to
opinions, knowing like beliefs

they can only ever be one
thing: subjective, not things on which
someone like me can depend. It
seems they always change but I can’t,
no matter how many times and
in how many ways I bend. Long
fallen, the stability I
seek your sentiment will rend as

a sword does a veil, or husband’s
underwhelming thrust his virgin
bride’s hymen until she can no
longer stand or walk away from
belonging to someone else. In
my fool’s alacrity, I am
independent, too much so to
take your hand. Dreams end. I make no

promises or amendments, your
predecessors can endorse this,
my bed’s previous incumbents
know well how I will not redact
or censor what I suffer for
any faction, regime, or sect,
but explore it to the fullest
until I understand. None of

this is meant to impress. Hell is
a breath the lungs bottle, it reeks
of battle. This is why, like Plath,
I breathe fire into syllables
vulnerable as Ariel
yet capable of miracles,
ardour my armour, a flame-haired
spirit who eats men like air. True


successor to Baudelaire, filth’s
heir presumptive, I’m an errant
apostle of the gutter where
I dwell so forlorn and just as
impossible to ignore. This
furnace is the crucible from
which I’ll emerge, burned but even
more self-aware than before. What

I believe in most is being
passionate, moved by it so much,
in fact, that I welcome what I
go through without looking back. Not
those ephemeral fixations
quaking against the throbbing pull
of my miserable orbit.
Fractal manifestations of

fantasies made from cut paper,
blank-faced traces of some latent
divine creative spark my scorch
leaves photolyzing until it’s
gone. Their dark metallic tongues of
ambergris pulsing along taut
veins of shocking copper my words
of acid wit thwart, I am more

than what loser mechanistic
fetishists want getting bent hard.
Instead of giving in to them
I’ll give you some of my secrets:
what keeps a colossus enamoured
of himself—so conceited as
this—from being defeated by
the pieces of meat he meets with

is that he outfoxes before
they realize it every
piece of shit who tries to fuck with
an asshole as crazy as this
one is—I’m unpredictable.
Less than eloquent when provoked,
keeping things provocative does
what diplomacy won’t—it flows.

Notate Bene:
☞ The title of the poem is derived from Anne Sexton’s “The Fire Thief”, [Stanza 5, Lines 27–28], in The Awful Rowing Toward God (1975), reprinted in The Complete Poems: With a foreword by Maxine Kumin, published at Boston by Mariner Books in 1999; page 460.
1Anne Sexton, “The Division of Parts”, [Section] 3[, Stanza 8, Lines 80–81], in “[Part] II” of To Bedlam and Part Way Back (1960), reprinted in the same edition cited above; page 44.