Dust in the Jewelled City

You went mad, they say, the companionship
Of angels grew too loud to bear.

                    i. Potassium Nitrate

We have acquired silver in great irony, fanning with flame • the envy of our tongues, pitying no one but our • Selves everyone else runs from ever since we forced down • their throats our swollen heads’ foreboding acquaintance, danced closeted skeletons • back into quarantine masked with gasping palms, clutches of pearls • breaking against the walls of heaving chests, quaking under the • weight of stares taking from the stars, pillaging of them • all, the appeal of the fables of their constellations, dust • in the jewelled city, how obscene were we when we • convinced them, everybody in this town, before they chickened out, • or realized our fault, that the way forward is paved • •

          with gold only for those bold enough to have crossed • •

the road, not knowing our own has been hazardous, closed • since the beginning, its uncertainty certain as tricksters are self-assured, • bad actors who have had it with mediocre childhoods we • abandoned not long ago but only recently, sinking Jonahs profiting • from sneaking into whale-sized puddles, faking until what we make • up for seems real again, fallen angels taking on more • luminous forms, averse to what we were then, sweet little • nothings whose dirtiest secrets are still hiding out in our • broken homes down the street, we have fled fate and • boned tritone-fingering guitarists into believing our Faustian appeal was the • biggest deal, made them fret until they agreed to sell • •

          what passion we cannot feel, premiered our egos’ altered versions • •

until fame became painful for onlookers to handle, bared the • chain-link of polished grins feigning ferocity toeing the razor’s edge • of innocence, the Golden Dawn’s blackballed candidates calculating next moves • westward, saving up the best exploitation for some Sunset Strip • better equipped to burn the unrest of this youth’s wealth • we have yet to misspend hard, talented charlatans working for • nothing but sweat, gooned-up hooligans getting foolish going all-in going • gaga, swooning over, tuning out to the tune of over-exposure • to get off wet with pleasure, colossal radial waves making • of our wrists limp antennæ, getting bent riding shotgun getaway • alleyways veining through cities of indebtedness whose acceptance we crave, • •

          paved over instead of paid for, fugitive head-cases titrating doses • •

of sky-high ambitions too asocial and distant they fade down • the sides of Maslow’s pyramid, melt like mercury or ice • cream cones weeping Polaroid memories, fall insignificant and feed on • æther we breathe in weathered foul by desire, sentimental Dadaist • downers whose power consists of turning on others we only • want to resist, since nothing ever goes off without getting • hitched, and here we are wed to conflict, warring against • politics we should know better than to accept as correct, • knowing full well just how fully and how much complacency • such as this corrupts, how silly this failing society really • is for those who believe in its myth of freedom.

                    ii. Charcoal & Sulphur

Trace well in this hour’s glass their path, measure how • soft, softer than velvet, how much more humble and honourable, • farther than any other’s, the feat of their travels appear, • the peregrinations of absent messengers, of truant troubadours, larger in • your mind than the monsters you must face, ask not • aloud but in the shaded oratory of your inmost heart • what silence will tell, shelter from that enemy within the • skull whose toil is to trouble your head, all your • •

doubts, question instead how perpetual is this emotion you choose • always never to feel, to ignore until your fears disappear • into the abyss beyond the veil behind which your truth • waits to heal, kneeling in prayer you can only hear • if you heed for once whatever sighing sign solitude reveals, • dust in the jewelled city mirrors what heaven wilderness nears, • wears thin what expectations have been deluding you to envision, • in these fragments waits what makes of your mistakes the • •

makings of a sage, buried not to your waist, but • in degrees of salt your wounds have yet to taste, • every part of your flesh tainted with a stain your • soul regrets but never will have to contend with again, • not if you let in the warmth this desert floor • succours the chill of your internal war with, lightening up • what needs this heat to brighten up, a night in • the drawers of a lover’s arms whose jaws like the • •

doors of a vault covet what fills a kingdom’s coffers, • feeds from its cupboards those parts of you you undervalue • and let people devour, your horde your cowardice in the • face of others lonelier than you are martyrs, mourn not • this confidence you have always had but let its apparent • theft re-empower your values until your halo grows over those • scars the world’s thorns throw out in an effort to • dim its glow, re-emerge determined to turn loss into courage.

1Lawrence Durrell, “A Patch of Dust”, [Stanza 6, Lines 36–37], in Collected Poems: 1931–1974: Edited by James A. Brigham, published at New York by The Viking Press in 1980; page 338.