As a Tongue to a Drop of Fire


As a tongue to a drop of fire
or brow of sorrow furrowed on
a granite-faced memorial
across which, as though hard toward

a hoped-for tomorrow, never
comes a name remembered, slurred scarred
by a loud former century’s
warmer cider and over-bored

descendants ignorant now more
than ever of their own rigored
ancestors into cryptic, curls
of cursive letters, fingered wells,

          centuries after a master
          craftsman’s chisel burrowed, hand-held


effort of hired remembrancers
history’s pen itself never
recorded whose talent is all
that lingers, asks what carver’s art

whose signature this monolith
is, as borrowed time softens here
nearer to erasure, to dirt,
whatever dates entombed in marked

stone erosion swallows, liars
embedded beneath sown lichen
discomforters, therefore, higher,
too, goes over my worry’s pull

          a heavier shadow, stirred mire
          passing closer when gasping swells


passing on its dusk of terror,
in fury an inheritance
of storm threatening my title’s
former burden, perspectived marred

now as damaged cargo, smaller
collateral, a morsel’s worth
of accidental disaster
after its birth more useful jawed

in some greater trouble’s dark hour
devouring, so this hunger for
another thirst overpowers
consumes, as moss does deep a full

          boneyard of pale teeth greiged with sour
          age an acidic rage of ill,


unanticipated choirs
of dissonant decay neglect
perpetuates, this clay control
of mine over my changing heart’s

desire scorched amber when moulded
by aching waters tasting wired
of shaken salt and ash spiking
painterly tears racing as marked

hounds throttling northward to no hired
goal whatsoever together,
crashing until crushing its gyre’s
tight canvas this Machiavel’s

          blasting, mock-evil, pulse-fevered
          bombastic persona’s purple


plastic, malleable, pervert-
iconoclassicist model
of a world-view’s insatiable
need, when viewed by the world’s worst hordes,

to be perceived as only, not
lonely, notably sole, rather
solitary by design, in
reality a means by words

or some similarly attired
oleic alchemy of sorts
deceiving my Self sore, perforce
slippery, hiding behind piled

          like some slab’s sinking stud-finder
          stability, some Ariel’s


indecipherable sapphire
face unknown to anyone else,
not even lovers, what riddle
anybody else would unearth,

as bone emerges from a tomb
after sodden with tears’ offer
of a storm, this fall’s form I let
consume my mortal soul’s abhorred

insecurities as carcers’
incense fumes do offerings of
jewels bruised on artificers
of personalities who deal

          shards, altared egos in splintered
          mimicry’s duplicitous hall


where echoes fill temples, foul ears,
with gall, how illusory this
fantasy of seeking to seal
and conceal esteem to conspire

to conceit to seem even more
miserable than I am tired,
actually, to be read like
Book Six of Virgil’s Aeneid,

searching always for the admired
shade of a fallen father whose
bold legacy I am he sired,
whose name I give voice, whose home’s feel

          I miss most, that ghost’s palace/pyre
          of his embrace our hugs filled full


with overflowing warmth of dire
hope, on which immolate those cries
melting to song spilling bell-peals
from this throat, coals I mine from scars

to scribe my lines, no, for I am
patriarch to pages, wild quires
rife with what sayings my mild mouth
never would say, not unperturbed,

not unless these lips met entire
with another’s who could take it,
kissing someone so outlier
eccentric as this auroral

          scribbler of epitaphs is, Sire,
          tonight I bury my nightfall


worry that my poetry’s ire
is too electric with a spark
no one will chase far, not until
after I have lived, for you are

reading it already, yes? Yet
flickering, your image aspires
and persists, as my craft transmits
experiences marvel carves

the way teeth do flesh, reacquires
taste by tastelessness intended
by its antics to transgress spires
of darkest church-hell cannibal

          artists dispel as towers
          of tall tales to tell tongues topple.