To Believe That You’re Not Leaving (After the Fire Goes Out)

          To never take seriously men who treat me foolishly—

                        i. To Create Wreckage

Lust using love’s name to lend
spurious authority
to its forgery defeats
the demon of drought by some
blessing of rain. When speaking

          to failure, always maintains

calm and composure even
though blown over, arguments
in favour of tomorrow
strain throats to swallow down to
their marrow words boning bare

          those grins everywhere feigned.

Fingers pain tessellating
cerulean lips, part them
to seize change, to window greige
patterns in auburn pauses
between aubergine pulses

          Byzantine fragments of speech,

silenced apocalypses,
on which need, needing belief,
thieves fears on which this tongue feasts,
with brazen teeth inlaid, each
smile a chain strangers’ votive

          vocabularies link, break.

Mosaic vagrancies of
fragrances dissipate ache,
take from the air all foul, fill
until fair deflated lungs
palpitating to bear chills

                        ii. From Which to Emerge

again the same way ground swells
until something gives, something
breaks. Earthquaking breathtaking
tells relieved pressure reveals
and desire finally freed

          feels. Vindicates ordeal’s weight

impersonal until healed,
how cleansing this ritual
dissemination of prayer,
this avowal’s dismissal
wholesale of miserable

          men pretending penitence.

Effectual this test faith
demands of those whose own in
themselves offers only doubts
when called, no definitive
response, and so I was then,

          though have not so much been since,

Telemachus finding him-
self, instead, while searching an
Underworld for his father
Odysseus, whom he feared
dead. Though mine is, and has been

          since then, the tomb in this deaf

city’s loudest West End. In
cosmopolitan London
its opulent Theatre
District, playing house-full to
audiences its bills’ top

                        iii. How Hearts Burn

offerings of wit to thrill
and dazzle them senseless. In
Halifax where its traffic
cacophonous bottlenecks
catastrophic inconveniences,

          its crass dramatic

climax a sunset of lights
crossing railroad tracks. Dusk takes
the time to stain glass with those
shadows day breaks until all
over again night falls in-

          to this place my dad’s desert

ashes disintegrate in-
to the industrial waste
of forsaken landscape he
hates as much in his after-
life as I do in this one

          an alternative after

which I strive in living mine.
Writing my escape into
lines I know will survive that
demise of this expansive
dissatisfaction of mind

          my existence comprises.

For in art there lies a slight
return to an earnestness
the importance of which is
to realize of scars wild
this widest of mine is that

                        iv. What Returns to Scorch

canyon mouth my hurt’s words work
hard to divide, and until
spoken what pokes in splinters
pens to fragments. Bandages
and banishments, vanishings

          this operation threads to

sentences my magic works
to suture tight. Counterfeits
of love this lust of mine my
voracious appetite for
destruction invites my flesh

          to try, to ingest by touch

and be consumed by. Lest in
its engulfing’s triumph this
bedsheet of flame clothe my cold
body in far worse remorse
another’s passion unashamed

          to scorch full blaze use its

warmth to hang us both from old
sprinklers in a padded cell
from which our lovers’ anguish
bursts forth. In our flooding art
arks its artifacts of loss

          its deluge unloads after

our war with this world’s under-
tow explodes, language of won
catharsis to unpack what
to believe, that you’re not
leaving after the fire goes out.