Scarce had he finished, when, with speckled pride,
A serpent from the tomb began to glide;
His hugy bulk on seven high volumes rolled;
Blue was his breadth of back, but streaked with scaly gold:
Thus riding on his curls, he seemed to pass
A rolling fire along, and singe the grass.
i. The Die Has Been Cast
Burn the bridges, this phœnix • needs the ashes. Control everything • or everyone will control you. • Whatever you have to do • to provide your Self an • illusion of power in a • situation over which you have • no control whatsoever, do it • now or forever be remembered • as a pushover. Forego peace • or withhold closure in favour • of being an impostor, hostage • to pleasing others the displeasure • of knowing whom only leads • them on, for keeping calm • when composure would rather be • disturbed only seems odd. Are • you the artist or the • poseur? Become who you are, • better versed in versions of • you than anybody else ever • was, never be someone someone • less thought you were. No • matter how ridiculous the lie • was, if you could sell • it to your Self, you • can sell it to anybody • else. Believe me, this is • confidence, the trick, the scheme: • trust in uncertainty so strong • convinces us. Everything, everyone, fears • the success of its allure’s • fatal pull toward the edge, • the ledge of the precipice • your myth inhabits, a dynamited • spiteful canyon grin the moon’s • twinkling crescent winks at from • above. Bottomless mouth, sinks its • teeth in the way a • snake does inflicting its unsolicited • gift of necessary venom, draws • within those victims unsuspecting of • its myriad enigmatic intentions. Punishes • •
ii. Crossing the Rubicon
them with whispers none comprehend, • compliments or admonishments words dissolve • in instants the crackle of • crumpled letters burning regret not • even a little, for flame • attaches to a thing its • nascent cleansing, pushes into the • oven the witch who suffers • and surfaces. Rebirth requires a • purge. Be, then, or be • beaten. Resurrection performances purge for • perverts their morbid thirst for • instant gratification. Resisting the urge • to sever ties only serves • those better suited to mediocre • lives, the kind we, the • otherwise ostracized, would rather be • as blind to our persistence • as we are to their • presence. How perseverance summons what • for so long lay dying • in the tomb of an • idea, now feelings disappear, dissipate • into colours never felt before. • At once warm and cool, • wet and dry, summer in • autumn, how this moon lifts • its veil, facing those night • always fails. Nothing forever happens • after dark, not when tomorrow • always dawns before too long. • How its fingers of cloud • twist into braids the invisible • strings constellations thread into ancient • shapes for worldlings looking up • into their past today, how • this moon descends but bends • to no one’s whim. Silver • pan no man can handle, • stands all but still, sifts • the silt of time’s muddied • waters, captures an elusive moment • no kodiak can recall ever • •
iii. Point of No Return
having eaten, devours all it • enthralls. Auguries in the entrails • detail devils who died trying • to find meaning in memory, • that fable which always appears • larger, nearer, to all, closer • to god than the dried • riverbed swallowing one true teardrop • veiled in a mirage. Shallow • how image satisfies with its • deception of depth, the way • a failed marriage does whenever • glimpsed through hindsight’s foggy lens, • the wrong end of a • telescope, wipes away visions to • forget. Telegraphs error no telescoping • tremor of a glance can • repair, gloss over, obscure, or • occult, as if the emptiness • within this pit were a • stomach hungering for meaning, for • something bigger than avoiding being • eaten, for a reward for • surviving another’s gluttony. Ambition reflects • stars’ imperfections visible only to • the planets and the luminaries • whose influence they orbit, to • know your hidden guilt, to • make you want to worship • silent lips. Every passion a • death waiting to happen, little • mortuary of your brittle bones • hollowing out marrow enough to • hold onto reserves of golden • breath spendthrift flesh wants to • tan over what scorch left • its torch-song sweltering mark, a • stigma tattooing in the dark • what graffitied kisses no temporary • confession washes off. Repentance is • changing direction in order to • be forgiving, not forgiven, not • when forgiveness needs to be • •
willed into existence. Difficult, then, • when original sin is what • everyone of us apparently inherited • before we could even comprehend • it. Not simply saying what • ills one wrought, that skill • lies in not lying to • oneself any more, going only • forward, throwing no glance over • lowered shoulders, pulling to rest • furrowed brows relenting under borrowed • weight of nobody’s opinion, under • pain of being seen, for • once, for what one really • is, not for what others • thought one was going to • be. To be defiant, to • dismiss others’ wishes, to split • into slivers childish depictions of • what illusions it never was • their business to construct. To • live only for life itself, • to be rebuilt from giving • up without grief this prison • the demolition of which releases • what needs to be freed, • as much a reanimism as • it is a reforesting to • full wilderness what within seeks • to peak elsewhere, to be • seen, to be felt, by • those who believe, not those • who neglect subtle energy: spirits • restless as leaves which have • outgrown the limbs of their • familiar trees. Reached beyond their • roots, busted nuts, blown fuses, • quickened pulses, blown too many • chances, entertained too many choices, • played games of truth without • knowing true consequences, gotten off • without getting any gain in • opportunities, even as talented courtesans, • •
to have any use for • seed spilled by men we • let use us as much • as we used them to • get off this wretchèd patch • of earth others are more • content to call home. Settling • instead of innovating, taking instead • of creating, making do with • instead of getting paid for • making it. Big fish in • a small pond, never was • fond of that understatement, ostentatious • as I am, predictably pretentious, • whale in a puddle, never • could stand drowning in the • gasps of villagers, uninitiated simpletons. • Unaccustomed to culture, comfortable in • their moulds, without the growth • I prefer to being ignored • by the world I was • birthed to turn into my • own. Mark my words as • a warning, a promise, a • prophecy, to be fulfilled: next • time I leave, never again • will I return. What you • value, what you believe, what • you seek, I never have, • never will. Apostasy becomes me • the way poison does every • well in your hovel. Never • again shall we speak, especially • not when my speech finally • reaches every edge of this • pale blue marble which is • an eyeroll at your boxes • and their walls, those pigeonholes • and quaint little failures you • call your best efforts. Now, • when I am doing better • than you ever were, than • you ever treated me before.
1Virgil, “Book Five”, Lines 111–116, in The Aeneid of Virgil: The Translation of John Dryden: Illustrated with the Woodcuts of Johann Grüninger, published at New York by Oxford University Press in 1982; page 138.