Lying With a Sword Between Us

Your dead forget you and the country of their birth as soon as they go beyond the grave and walk among the stars.
          —Van Dyke1



Drip a thread of tears and climb the drops
beaded by what thoughts frost across. Call
out upon the desolate expanse
of loss, ‘I do believe in prayer—call
it what you wish—let not your art be
a godless pursuit!’ Pearling strings of
grief as you walk insight with blindness,
myths tripping over constellations
when reason disappears behind this


vast canvas a mess with its breadth’s wet,
meaningless measure of elusive
succession birthed from within. Inside
some inheritance, not riches. An
embarassment of vindictiveness,
the knife-edged wilderness fringe of which
prevents from emerging when vented.
Intentioned during defeat its heat
leads on, that scorch of vengeance its hurt’s


explosive feat perpetuates as
if failure were the only fault of
infallible fate. A fall not so
gullible as most who give up, no.
Determined as my hands have been since
then, visions of these twisting fingers
experiencing that perversion
of the same squinting lessening’s own
perpetually unheeded sham


lesson. To fashion from its threads art
which rivals nature’s devastation
is but an expression. An aching
equation terrible as it is
applicable to this wakefulness
breaking to splinters this picketed
variety of sickest, sticky
situation. Pin-pricking as limbs
and ligatures each sticking through flesh


trauma taxes, a coming unglued.
A movement through wounds, through which proof of
the union of opposites is by
humans, consumed with feud, pursued to
its inevitable conclusion
which eludes most of them. That what death
transmutes is what loss does by seeming
to undo everything else, yet,
the only way to go is through with



it. To carry without burden what
moment continues whether or not
we choose to carry on. Unlearning
that which fear endears us to believe
we must become, nothing. When, really,
we are two peaces of the same war’s
aching for someone strong. Two blue wounds
together sutured closed by doing
too nude our fugitive statements of


truths. Performing fugues, playing movements
of swinging moods paying dues. Two dudes
opening to others what any
other would never show the world or
know themselves whatsoever at all.
Just how embattled we are by parts
every parting only prolongs
the breaking into full brokenness
of what we feel we are. Lying with


a sword between us, until some song
pulls apart two men too human to
crawl nude toward what love illumines
by incinerating hearts. Whose brass
vessels with sweating walls are cracked urns
darkness mourns, the way prisoners do
their former cells after called back by
the intimacy and candour of
some anonymous petitioners


to answer what gods whose laughter their
own prayers are, filling ours as well as
our ears. These hearts bell jars wherein that
dissonant love we want heard is kept
captive from the jeers of those whose doubts
are bleating vultures which stalk each these
very timid creatures we, too, are
after, after all. That gentle beast
mortals call untamed hate’s more ideal


cipher. Its misunderstanding’s force
metamorphosed with thunder and wind
together singing of becoming
no better than an end’s remembered
genteel paramour. This desire for
them men, such as us, tend too often
to conceal when we should be living
the love we deserve to feel, closer
to freedom every time we kneel!



You have to be fuckable, but you
can’t be fucked with. Drop that thread of tears,
those thoughts your head endures, even still,
ever since poured forth, into mouths as
though disclosed sorrow once confessed were
not weakness, but hot wax this tongue scratched
mining scattered fears you’d shed which cooled
to candles, when gathered. Your renewed
confidence melts, then sours, ’til withered


all shades of bitterness blitzed from full
blaze to fading flicker by what faint
ferocity within you’ve sheltered.
Relished the possibility of
potentially having never once
before encountered some wintering
luminescence of latent power
preparing to emerge even more
powerful and overpowering


than their rage’s coldest glare could beg
to attempt to emit, or ever
manage to damage, by distilling
from its illest will what those who feel
overlooked only savour, and well.
That warmed-over thrill of disabling
another’s effort at failure by
turning tables in your favour to
make those moments their own. Defeating


without softening bones those ghosts from
strength of flesh to jelly moulded. Shapes
thrown when offering bowls broken hard
against temple floors purge oracles
whose secret meanings your mouth births by
saying nothing, only smiling, thus
defying by undefinable
courage called silence, those tyrants whose
noise called to battle us who rejoice


in the gasping laughter of unasked
for surprise. The demise of our masked
rivals in due time why we lie with
a sword between us, why every
climax is a little death. Why, yes,
every bed’s just a little grave
out of which we climb. Every lip
the ledge of a crib every kiss
pushes over its edge friction grips.

1Dick Van Dyke, “The Dreams of an Old Man: Wiping the Slate Clean” in Keep Moving: and Other Tips and Truths About Living Well Longer, published at New York by Hachette Books in 2019; page 188.