A Stone Without a Ghost

That underground they fought in dismal shade;


Their first home was a low, narrow cave, well, it was more of a cavity than a cave[.]

                    i. Prologue

Bought and owned, a punch
          of punish as a shadow
          does throws a stone without
          a ghost, contrives a method
          to remain alone so that
          its outline goes on rippling
          blurs of echoing anger, floats
          a lie this life follows,
          flows in its throes for
          aching ages before it bloats
          out, torches its verse of

scorch across torn paper blown
          apart as fame burns its
          bard’s midnight taper until all
          art falls victim to ambition
          lost in vapour, celebrating its
          own pain antiheroic as Byron
          in a stupour, stumbling anywhere
          but home, wandering as any
          star does, weathering a storm
          its flame draws, authoring loss
          in the arms and through

the minds of everyone on
          whose tongues this name becomes
          a vain attempt to pronounce,
          translating a saintless relic, preying
          on what nothingness this quest
          amounts to in the end,
          its creation of someone else
          no one ever was, or
          wants ever again to themselves
          lowering grimaces in mirrors to
          seem, dripping and drooping from

trembling lips as though drops
          of snow below meat thawing,
          fading belief weeping beneath another
          mountain, wading on freezing feet
          knowing being lonely carries its
          own burden of its own
          heat, deceives in ways only
          we who think we can
          take more than we need
          is what we deserve, that
          thing starving hearts eat whole—

                    ii. Epilogue

—born bearing a legend, this
          gathering of words cottons to
          speech, combustive as confrontation met
          in the street two feats
          lend for their legacies those
          houses whose agonies these wars
          of ours we keep unnamed,
          at that confluence of shame
          and its acceptance without blame
          where shadows twin to battle
          heretics whose vanity allows faith

in these masks we each
          believe makes of death sense,
          and that, in meeting men
          we know we will never
          be seeing or seen with
          ever again, we become for
          them what comfort performance can
          offer when wanting love’s loss
          all of this pretend lets
          even us accept its murkiness,
          for, within crossroads, rules bend,

permit expectations their just passage,
          serve as matrices where dividends
          emerge as time spent trusting,
          if only for a moment,
          in what sentiment touch becomes
          when welcomed by flesh as
          passionate violence martyrs must accept,
          enslaved not by chains but
          by what limits we let
          inhibitions apprehensive of pleasure set
          against intuition, as lust intuits

the very essence modesty buries
          as its feigned attempt betrays
          the scariest parts of us
          only strangers ever let surface,
          so, in throwing against walls
          every shape we have taken
          on whenever we come, in
          some strange way, breaking from
          tradition, from the wait of
          which we stray, taking with
          immediacy parts on mattresses played.

1John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book VI, Line 666, in Paradise Lost: Edited by William Kerrigan, John Rumrich, and Stephen M. Fallon, published at New York by The Modern Library in 2008; page 221.
2José Saramago, Cain, Chapter 2, in Cain: Translated from the Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa, published at Boston by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2011; page 11.