For C. B. W.—


It wasn’t the same
as love, letting weekends contain


Tryst of laughter following after
sadness past the shattering of glass, two steps

before the edge invites its crash, foots
print, toes grasp, smouldering earth, this path across

its leopard-darted back a darkened
hearth of leathern flesh dotted by paws, a sprawl

of jaws jowled & pulled apart, imperfect
and flawed, baked dirt of cracked applause coercing

clods of black-mirrored shards to clear ash
enough that filth’s occultation of such pure,

unwashed emotion might permit clouds
to appear, rain to drop its obscure nocturne

here, cool the scorch with showers not to
cleanse but encourage growth to sear to fullness

of bush, fire enough to brush away
man’s torch that nature might again be nurtured,


and every son able to cane
his way into the sweetness of his father’s

forest, to offer-up on sweating
altars adrip with plenty, wet flavours of

scarcity the variety of
which surfaces to question conclusions, tongues

refusing to be refused by brusque
hierophants, until then, forward toward lust’s

oblivions, dusk swallows its own
shadow with the conviction of a convict

convincing himself of his fault’s own
innocence, following heartache underfoot

a fire feeding disrespect he’s been
feeling since fleeing his discontent, sails pitched

& already spent, another faggot
bundled with wood and grin and gain and loss and


sweat & indifference unable to
repent, intent on being comfortable

being different, hooded brother
Hoovering through the wilderness damned, bother

of regret bent over the getting
gone of having given unfulfilling head,

this is it, zilch repeated again,
getting nothing from them he wants to kiss but

lip, ill service rendering so much
effort for such quixotic exertions not

worth it, cursed fits of underwhelming
ad nauseam haunting him, deprecation

of Self so often a symptom of
ennui occasioned by wisdom’s thirst drying

out any attempt at obtaining
it, preying on or praying for aversion


by pair, coupling two incongruent
meanings into one phrasing as if both halved

persons even ever really cared,
endanger strangers with your uncaged anger,

no matter how oblique its faint pain’s
acute angle, feigned interest dissipates

and they strangle any actual
magic, gather senseless, damp-palmed & cowardiced,

all entangled sentiments, rampage
against one for being damaged, and change fear

to terror with their sour apathy’s
lingering stare, never read your own cards when

it comes to love, lest your significator
become your significant other,

and love fraud instead of what your heart
is actually after, a cry for help


answered, your face cut from your skull, pealed
from its bell, and pasted like a well-scalpelled

playing card onto the body of
another, a taroted fool crowned as though life

were a deck of cut trees piled so that
Kether were god’s paper doll folded on top

of egos thereafter modelled and
altared, similar but smaller others, mage

majoring in arcana, after
all, distinguished scholar of your nuances,

an avatar paramour suited
better to foul with you an unusual

implausibility of fairer
weather, storming gutters with tears together

instead of constellating faulty
stars into fitter oracles than your hurt


yearned to settle for, seeing far and
in cruel shade at midday a poor play of

words impoverished by attempting
to turn jerk into a verb, shaking oft-missed

interpretations of images
forsaken by the ancients for being so

graven, so brazen, from jaded old
misrepresentations of symbols

clothed in dead metaphors, and other
low-hanging fruit mistaken for truth and for

granted, from whence meaning should not be
taken, not unless one wants to be beaten

at their own game of changing the way
things were from the first, before becoming burned,

lesson learned: never mythologize
what bold lies cannot hide, of course, never let


anyone have power over you,
not unless you wish them to influence you,

that sinister cabal of bitter-
thinking critics deathly envious of your

scandal’s devious existence, so
called, tethered once you fall for allowing them

to make you feel appalled with being
full-on who you truly are, the classic grudge

forever knotting two enemies
together, the louder the opinions of

rude strangers affecting all the more
your worth, inordinate attempts at trying

to please others compromises your
integrity, always renders terminal

and unmendable your misery
spent telling onlookers in your pathos you


feel more comfortable, that excuse
never works, that you prefer solitude, choose

its cavernous echo, in fact, since
being around others only reminds you

how alone you truly are, and it
hurts, attracts rumours, worsens when you have no

need to concede an explanation,
especially not one too weak to be its

own justification, people and
things have over you, over your mind, your heart,

your life, your concept of Self, what of
innate power you grant them permission to

have, implicit by worrying, by
doubting, explicit by offering what they

do not reciprocate, there, then, my
fallen friend, twelve unsolicited insights


(one for each apostle? each tribe? each
month? each sign?), and wishes for you to live well

and without any but constructive
strife the style of life you will, that every

desire be by your tenacity
fulfilled, understanding find your mind,

unlike mine, hospitable, all news
you hear gospel, your healing in the arms of

a man who loves you, who wants you to
be held in his definition of total

acceptance without consequence, and
not holed up in a hospital bed, fed false

promises by the cold indifference of
a broken system, for my struggle

of unrest has been given to treatment more
linguistic than emotional, pen


following sounds instead of feelings,
ideas I wish to turn into vivid,

visceral, less cerebral, candid
experiences for my readers to live,

even if only visual, not
only contrived tongue twisters, I often fail

to express this with as much longed-for
candour as your heart spoke so well when, without

speaking, it said by its beating that
we should end here our pleading to be under-

stood and, instead, stand under heavens
we pretend let in only martyrs, for we

are as welcomed as them, though not so
grim as they are, no matter how secret our

suffering, someone gets it (that is,
forgiveness), so that its gift can be given.

1Anne Sexton, “The Double Image”, Part 7, Stanza 1, Lines 9–11, in Part II of To Bedlam and Part Way Back (1960), in The Complete Poems: With a foreword by Maxine Kumin, published at Boston by Mariner Books in 1999; page 41.