A Trap Door Back to My Self


My soul’s resale value is nil,
things I won’t let my Self speak keep
from meeting me anybody
I want, so much for a career
in the expression industry.

Confessionalism crooned for crude
consumers convinces no one
of constant pain’s crass conundrum.
Causes to cease all suspension
of disbelief. The bridge carries

toward the third chorus only
those of us another’s response
of silence hurt first, ’cause courage
called-off before its warm chord could
progress draws cold blood. Exitainment

& I’m retaining what shouldn’t
be contained. Pressed for statements, hot
takes give way to comments which grill,
until these neglected questions
commence sweet release from present

circumstances when calling press
conferences only works for
the present moment, since what’s left
unmentioned is left ignored for
its persistence. (Say something, if

saying something’s my thing, eh?) Can
only encrypt in symbolism,
metaphor, and simile so
much. Communicating concealed
misery don’t come easy, Babe.

This life’s only a punishment
for the last, the extension of
a prison sentence. Karmic debt’s
remittance, this controversy
follows our family like a

shadow, demands of descendants—
tasks grandsons to tend each in bleak
Sisyphean shifts—this guilt an
unremitting faith in a world
without end, and the myth of the

existence of penitent men,
perpetuates. A curse, you wait
then tradition discourages
freedom from its grip even when
generosity replaces

greed, everything I wish to
gift you which happens already
to be in some grand museum’s
damned collection. Doubtless, the place
retains your trace and, sentient,

reminisces of the present
in its past—the gift—of your ghost’s
presence. I am your memory,
dread enemy defender of
distanced friends fending-off from us


and them mine’s disingenuous
opinions. Alchemizing us
in the iron-works of the steel-
willed Universe, refining thoughts
until what we think of our Selves

outdoes the damage what others
think of us attempts to inflict.
Unbending the dent’s impression
tends to upend them, seeds deep with
slick, devilish divisiveness

which alienates critics, these
antics of ours that limit the
prison sentence of wicked -isms.
Disarms their dissonance, disturbs
their Berlined walls down to crumbling

foundations, yes, how appalled they
all are that this ferocious grit-
wisdom of ours makes artists of
survivors and surgeons of hard-
hearted, hot-headed madmen. What

we have been mending this tent—or
is it a parachute?—whose wind-
worn flesh we together, twinned storms,
inhabit. Minds blown, heads to the
ground thrown, sewn mouths roll open to

let-out gasps. Twined strands in the same
veins lash against detractors’ whips
their heredity’s quick wit. Quip
emancipating, masterful
digs dips of the willow’s cotton

tongues where its misty tears don’t reach
sum-up our shared roots’ tendency
to summon from underneath the
earth ancestors whose pact men, such
as we, ever since, seek to prove

never existed yet both know
for-sure-as-hell did and, indeed,
still does. Persists hard, relentless.
Indebted as all heirs are to
theatre of their fathers whose

dramas we under-studied for
and now over-perform until
spirits fall as curtains do, to
stage floors whispers wander over
before the show’s even over.

Just getting warmed-up when the hurt
surfaces and burns whole the old
scaffolding shouldering the beast
whose bigger-than-big burden ours
is, being Bordens. Financiers,

politicians, entrepreneurs,
poets, farmers, lawyers, doctors.
Prime Ministers, portraits with heads
on hundred-dollar-bills, headless
cousins, acquitted murderers.


Ministers of Militia and
Defence, philanderers, misters
with other men’s women (& other
men) as their mistresses (and their
misters…). Inventors of condensed

milk and beef jerky, founders of
companies, viz., Borden Dairy
and sundry other legacy
conglomerates now, as then, Friends,
government contractors. Aprons

and rings worn as Freemasonic
initiates, literate and
literary, executives
and executors, never had
to sign our names with exes. Lit

brethren of illuminating
traditions, litigious victors
of precedential trials, more
Maslow’s perfect pyramidal
paragons, exemplar over-

achievers, than merely social
climbers. Actualizing will
since our beginning, triumphing
ritual magicians and dark
geomantic necromancers

moonlighting as land surveyors,
measuring what will be conquered.
Divining advantages blind
to consequences, deserting
soldiers. (What merchant could afford

more land than any currency
can ever even purchase, vast
acres of wealth and privilege?
Then lose it.) Blazes. What crazy
misfortune to inherit. The

crash, the fall from the crest of the
ledge, the wave coming down, hands all
open and spilling black sand back
into spent hourglasses. Granted
my own arms at thirty, coat of

azure and or, blue and gold, three
wingèd sphinxes flying over
a sun’s gaze glaring out-at-you.
’Scribed on a scroll unrolled below
the Vulgate quote from John’s Gospel,

Manifesta te ipsum mundo
(Chapter Seven, Verse Four, for
those who seek to know more). My own
motto imploring me to show
my Self to the world, to dare to

be beheld by those worthy of
beholding someone so bold. What
a solemn, sad, solitary,
lonely, ceremonial dirge
of another birthday. Briefed on


my duties, ennobled only
to forget my fit legs tremble
under such weighty heritage.
Obligation abhors any
diversity. Honour is the

only distinction they get. Yes,
kids, history favours its odd
characters, ignores those background
performers, plays-out for fate its
eccentric, electric way of

gravitating toward the strange,
born heroes and making inflate,
disappear, or fizzle bright, lights.
Unforeseen stars dropping hints like
scalding ink from dipped pens bred right

onto the most memorable
lines only someone larger-than-
life can recite. (Read my chart. Sigh.)
Thirty generations waiting,
imagine the pressure, to keep

their secrets and have no one to
repeat them to, anyhow. To
look like them, to resemble dead
grandfathers who, if I ever
met them, would want to know why now,

not then, did I decide to live
like this. The tightrope jump onto
oblivion’s precipice of
this hunger-for-love it never
believed it deserved sets this heart

on a course settling for damage
instead of conquering the world.
We become what demons we want
to believe in, each next version
a less-effective exorcism.

Always changing, all the danger
lies not in aligning with the
tragic, but allying with life’s
every what-if lie it gives.
Catastrophizing deceives me

into needing to prepare for
fighting. Always colliding. All
of this trouble, all of this knight’s
effort, to be remembered. Big
the ambition of he whose small

stature no sword’s endowment can
any longer compensate for,
whose inborn nature to turn first
to war over peace leads always
to sure defeat, and my ancient

family’s demon has a name
only I can speak. A name I’ll
need when, at that hour, I greet at
that gate its keeper, a trap door
back to my Self where I’ll meet me.

Notate Bene:
☞ The title is derived from Line 8 of Stanza 1 of “[Part] iii. for the dead homie” in the poem “for Andrew” by Danez Smith, from Homie: Poems, published at Minneapolis, Minnesota by Graywolf Press in 2020; page 47.