Steeping the Sky in Blood from Ruby Wounds

          Que mes yeux consumés ne voient
               Que des souvenirs de soleils.


          All I can see with burnt-out eyes
               Are dark remembrances of suns.


My scythe-swiping exterminating angel pouring
over the sleeping world armfuls
of prayers for mercy in
your ferocious need to see

me you ignore completely, flying
in on rumour’s wings, creeping
paramour rapping at death’s back
door, tripping over beauty, truth

in your entry, error in
your step, wearing the flesh
of a man, clawing down
every instance of resistance preventing

living out these our primal
fantasies, all this animosity enacted
step-by-strutting-then-stumbling-step without any shred of
hesitation or wincing cringe resembling

anything indicative of remorse or
regret, how we animals, each
in our many metamorphoses, in
our prancing practice pouting, putting

on morose poses aping humanity’s
humility, Mass-marketed martyrs who mourn
emptiness itself and not the
emptied vessel when, poured out,

weeping as Roman candles do
once spent, sweating centurions trembling
after an orgasm’s exorcism pissing
molten ivory onto brass this

ritual’s battle tarnishes, our excess
commits extreme indecencies obscene as
envying what we’ve already eaten,
communion wayfaring, punishing with gluttonous

glances washing over with fog
of its filth vanity’s looking-glasses,
licking edges already rimmed in
attempt to be blessed with


last drips, disingenuous degenerates drinking
it in, this experience, that
its having been might extend
credence enough to lengthen our

profitable suffering, bitten-lipped grinning when
pity pays dividends in addition
to, in tandem with, the
world’s attention, twinned pupils of

death’s putrid tutelage in its
avoidance wishing to be no
better than whom we’ve already
been, her competition and what

corrupts him, husbands to no
one, loyal only to contradiction,
contrarian kin devouring extravagances no
grief can complement, heaven mirroring

a boot-crushing of iron-blue-hued fieldstone
clouding its coughing scattering in
a pillowing of electric, oyster-grey
havoc slow as molasses across

our first summer sky, ashening
its light as below passersby
take no note of the
storm’s approach, going about on

the look-out, again, for some
distraction, hopeless as thieves, no
doubt, that the way they
deceive brings about some screaming-nude

ecstasy, dragging sauntering and sultry
out of wilderness this perfected
craftsmanship which emerges polished, gleaming
as a tarot charioteer’s mysteriously

misery-driven hubcaps, or a neon
nimbus discus-thrown down around a
sinner’s brow somehow redeemed, raggèd
as John the Baptist, yes,


now life’s machine, this body
on which we feast, fed
on its images, manages to
bleed a patina penitence greases

and prayer pleads to pass
over each our own transgressions
as though these things we
believed then we needed to

transgress were just scenes, moments
meant to mean nothing yet,
not until mentioned in memoirs
for would-be biographers to ponder,

our flesh canvas against which
stigma pressed its wet sting
to seal under this varnish
washing over us what those

who believe seek to see,
what’s taboo to speak, murdered
parent’s demon seed, first-born, son
of the seventh, new Cain,

fruit whose offerings their gods
refuse, unsuitable as blood shed
in an attempt to pour
its tongue into shared wounds,

family only a theory, hypothetical,
unpalpable sample of reality tasteless
as rancid flesh to us,
relentlessly pathetic, really, pity some

heaven to end this aching
atrophy of morality agonied by
strangers’ beds ascorch with our
innocences burning down to aphorisms

and clichés our sighs quote
without apology, a million ennuis
returning echoes against the ribs
of some mummy’s dusty posterity.

Notate Bene:
☞ The title of the poem is derived from Charles Baudelaire, «91. Les Petites Vieilles» / “91. The Little Old Women”, Section III, Stanza 1, Line 3 (13, 51 overall), in Parisian Scenes of The Flowers of Evil: Translated with Notes by James McGowan: With an Introduction by Jonathan Culler, published at New York by Oxford University Press in 2008; pages 184–185 (with parallel French text). In its original tongue, the source line is rendered «Ensanglante le ciel de blessures vermeilles[.]»
1Charles Baudelaire, «12. Les Plaintes d’un Icare» / “12. Lament of an Icarus”, Stanza 2, Lines 3–4 (7–8 overall), in Additional Poems from the Third Edition of The Flowers of Evil (1868), of the same volume cited above; pages 344–345.