Hell is not a pit of fire but the icy shell of a town after
the demonic tide recedes.
Mud gluts out of the windows, mud in sinks, in beds,
in every hole and crack.
Sleet and snow feather the mud, and yes, that’s an arm, a hand,
a head, and snow furling the ear,
vacated by confused spirits who flap wildly in this town
like pigeons freed from coops.
I want to go home, cries the soul who pierced a bystander
her mother found her
in the gym among rows and rows of muddy bodies in tarp
mother wiped mud
from daughter’s face with towels but when all the towels
mother wiped mud from daughter’s face with her own shirt
when her shirt was filthy
mother licked mud from daughter’s face, prying open
her eyelids with her tongue
to suck clean her eyes so they weren’t two slits brimmed
in mud but spotless and white
looking nowhere nowards—let me see you, let me see
you let me see you let me
join you let
walk into the sea swarming with lionfish in the
starless sable night.
But I am scared; I
fail. I cough back to shore.
But she lives on I visit her I see her
I see her I visit I see her
frail in the starless black night
I see her, I am none wiser
I am none wiser for it
Breath on my neck breath on my
I see her I do I
drop the acacia bark I pound to powder
go back back in time to sentinels
where lynx collared guards
stand while the bells ring and ring
Courtiers tending to her like sparrows
There she is the king yes
is the king
enrobed in wild red
What people don’t tell you is that the ghosts outnumber
the living. They refuse to leave us, they are stuck, they cannot go
forth into the light because they cannot get over
their unjust deaths
What sadistic god chooses to condemn victims
to this purgatory
while remorseless predators
slip into his eternal white light.
Unwanted newborn girls
are no more than a breath of cold air
sometimes a song
in the windchimes
I smell their fontanelle their pink
My daughter at least darts back and forth across time
like a mysterious silver aircraft
She writes me letters constellated
I am here before humans walked
the Earth and
I am so happy I am at peace.
I have forgotten my body.
I have forgotten my darkened labia.
The grey tufts that surround my labia.
My long nipples. I have forgotten my body.
The crust in my eyes, the rings I count around my neck.
The hair I no longer darken.
I have forgotten the moles on my neck.
I have forgotten to tie a hair follicle around each mole
till it chokes & falls off.
I have forgotten all parts of my body, the gaps
in my teeth, my greying receding gums, I have
forgotten love, touching—
what is touching
but the sour rage that scrapes through me
like a whistling wind through caves
stirring nothing, I feel nothing
but the sag
of my jowls hinting at what will be
a jawbone left on the sand,
the incisors missing, fossilizing not my
soul, my grief, nothing at all
but my pathetic diet.
I am old, I am old
My knees clack when I run—look at that old freak run
look at her stumble
away from the forgotten who drift toward her like fog
and the bed shakes, and it shakes, and the moon’s ivory sickle
bloodies the sky.