Monuments Opening to Mend Extinguished Men

I wasn’t exactly forgiven. They had my portrait
done instead.


It wasn’t the same
as love, letting weekends contain


Two portraits on opposite walls
in the manner Sexton had said
beckon to no one at all, sit
inanimate, enamoured of
no one at all yet admit what
our artists caught were oiled glimpses
of boned gods, loves forgotten once
love washed off, not opened up or
rotten enough to call heroes
war recovered or survivors
of interviewers whose calls we
prolonged and only answered long
after we had mastered calling
all the shots, that war of ours with
our Selves we sought no amount of
publicity bought could calm or
resolve, or call off, questioning,


then, ever since we parted, why
it was we together even
ever started to discover
in each other what turmoil we
fought, false doctors propheting from
wounds wrought by cuts into stone face,
monuments opening to mend
extinguished men wearing bruises,
tombs exhausted as creaking arks,
unmentionable as aching
vessels bearing home hard masked scars
of shards, fractured souls artifice
offered scorch as though it was heat
we needed just to believe these
images were worth faithlessness
in anything but transgressive
idolatries desert revels


in our company occulted
until what we preached we became,
misbehaved monoliths breaking,
obelisks blanking without glyphs
to hymn more than our chosen names,
tankers tanking after taking
liberties from kings whose peace we
refused to keep, sinking, instead,
beneath artificial torment
partial acceptance of tempests
within we kept unbidden lest,
when summoned to surface, our myth
busted and we get busted up,
lachrymose enough to wet stretched
canvases, to let out secret
griefs our greed’s need to never be
forgotten by people neither


of us ever wanted to meet
is what, now, keeps feasting on flesh
these likenesses our dislike of
them othered to something else, some
wickedness our differences
manifested as punishment,
torture, this, immortal as bent
pyramids, mysteries instead
of biographies wild legends
footnote, karmic bills footed while
dust gathers where visitors pay
no mind or respect, indebted
as we are to having lived lies
and apart, now that, in death, it
is art, which no battle spoil can
vanquish, yes, which furnishes that
which we never could afford to


gift one another, a future
together, these pictures whose frames
we fill stills of films whose endings
test well as empty temples no
incense is lit in to lift prayers,
those emptiest cinemas with
no audiences to thrill with
intense tales fizzling stars use as
vehicles to lift dead careers,
no, what we have here is anguish
painted without attention to
its origin’s details, two men
estranged from the context of our
hanging, explained in captions closed
to those this language of colour
makes more furious as culture
saints fags with fading nimbuses.

1Anne Sexton, “The Double Image”, Section 2, Stanza 4, Lines 6–7 (Stanza 8, Lines 71–72 overall), and Section 7, Stanza 1, Lines 9–11 (Stanza 24, Lines 191–193 overall) in Part II of To Bedlam and Part Way Back (1960), in The Complete Poems: With a foreword by Maxine Kumin, published at Boston by Mariner Books in 1999; page 41.