Fear Is a Friend, Failure Is an Ally


A mouth buttered with your tongue’s knife,
     stains of your voice on torn
     tapestries riot for
     my birthday. Reassure
me a crypt’s just a sewer in

     which a saint’s been buried,
reliquary experience
of the patriarchs who bore me.
Forefathers who, before me, by
     their heritage formed me.

Not my own, that cabal of those
     rebel shadows whose thrown
     shade dusks days, peel their lights
     from angles they corner. //
Swallowing time, hours poured like sand

     into palms opening
to scatter dust of youth onto
floors my boots despise, I stamp out
their I’s. Gather to My Self crumbs,
     fragments of this Me I

fought to become, Mine for once. Mouse
     becoming Someone Else
     leonine none of them
     ever expected I
was or much accepted. At the

     expense of excising
underwhelming friends and callous
familial pretenders like
hemorrhaging superfluous
     appendages, limbs which

never were worth suffering their
     presence to begin with.
     Pulp of waste-paper cut
     people, stomatal sells
less personable than objects.

     Weakening weakened trees
weeping seas of seed. Unenvied
inheritance of weeds no razed
estate seeks or needs. Bloodletting
     every branch until,

connections to Them untangle
     and estrange veins drained of
     sentimental sap. Junk
     memory’s rapt trunk bends
under the unbearable weight

     of emptiness and, sopped,
succumbs to being crushed, spilling
myths of contents no truth’s ask will
ever be content contending
     with. Not until the tell’s

relinquished by the gag’s nagging
     grasp. Yes. Disconnected,
     dissonant, wretchèd, wrecked,
     the opening’s obscene,
yet a memorable exit. //


     Let it bleed the way an
undeveloped Polaroid does
to see seep what shapes change. Nothing
but their place in places where it’s
     not strange for walls to take

again and again kingdomed come
     some sex-fed animal
     anonymous exile
     shot on the run. Starved of
meaningful touch, rubbed on as though

     a smile’s what spilled mess makes
facing solitude together
less miserable. Washroom fun
stalls welcome. That kind of futile
     confluence, when rushing

from romance to oblivion,
     viscous collision of
     one fugitive desire
     into another’s rubbed
definition robbed of its fire

     denies probable cause
all possibility of sparks
to transpire, and expectations
fall hard onto the gauze pyre of
     sobriety until

sober. Blinding the winking want
     which wanders groping from
     wilderness toward cold
     turmoil. Only soiled pants,
wet evidence of spent pleasure

     lingers until stiffened.
Fossilized fuel. This blood stopped speaks
what flesh cannot once its warmth’s been
chilled. // Chandelier shake dance of drawn
     icicle lightning, down

crashes their caravan of drowned
     extravagance. Flashes
     across pavement ignite
     to blades grinding, no more
remorse reminding my sorrow’s

     extricated heart why
surviving’s a curse. Not when my
hurt’s worsened by trying to hide
its wellspring of inspiration
     turning strawmen into

arguments favouring silver
     over gold. This wealth of
     desperation taking
     as its toll what dirge my
lips perform. No one worse ever

     emerged more transformed than
after enduring what rebirth’s
purged from hurtful words. Daggers of
diamonds writing effaces
     drag on for dodged days or


burned decades this pen’s knife delays. //
     Holds at bay these furry-
     genes, enough, if you please,
to braid a rope of hirsute growth

     to stretch-out from hellish
Halifax. That underwhelming
city of my nativity,
earliest memories, wasted
     youth, et cetera, viz.

          (or videlicet, to wit): my
          geographic nemesis, my
          wit’s pedestrian-prosaic-
          provincial enemy abyss,
          every potential one missed…

     To reach you through bullet-
hole wells of hurt is, even still,
an unquenchable ambition
of mine which never will go dry.
     Seven shots at your heart

and not one hit no matter how
     many moments I try
     to recover. Getting
     by finding shards of you
forever inside, no matter

     how many torrents I
quietly cry. // Time sighs by, side-
eyeing grief your widows believe
unjustified, those ex-mothers
     forever exiled from

my life. How their lies won’t ever
     suffice to cover now
     absences then they tried
     since to ascribe to your
divide. Your parting in pursuit

     of movement only now
I comprehend and pursue, too.
Doing as I am what you, fool,
never finished, and you’re not here
     to witness it. This cure’s

flourishing of our force, perfumed
     curse scorching to bloom to
     never settle again
     for the convenience of
inconvenient men. Breath left on

     the leaves heaves impressions
getting wet from being wanted,
whispers when wailing would more than
suffice. Warns against sacrifice,
     deciding today what

tomorrow night might become what
     I can look forward to
     for the rest of my life.
     Courting fear as a friend,
failure as an ally wounds mend…

Notate Bene:
☞ The title is derived from those of Chapters 19 and 44, “A Witch Courts Failure As An Ally” and “A Witch Knows Fear Is A Friend,” respectively, in Aidan Wachter’s Changeling: A Book of Qualities, published at La Vergne, Tennessee by Ygret Niche Publishing in 2021; table of contents.