the sea and sky have had a meeting. they have had a meeting
to discuss why they must always be separate though they appear
to meet. each wants to be subsumed in the other, engulfed
completely like two tongues between mouths. they want to know
why this invisible barrier stands between them, why they are
permitted to see but not feel, why this forced estangement.
they are tired of this sham. i am the horizon, the division,
the source of illusion. it is my fault that people are fooled into
thinking they touch when they do not. they say that i am
the problem. they have placed the blame on me.
modeling project: saul williams
there is a certain way to do this: the careful
arrangement of sticks and the circle of stones
worn smooth from water. you steeple the twigs
to form a teepee like the kind you drew when
you were a child, around the time when the wind
stole the last leaves from the trees and every-
one kept asking why you were drawing chalk
outlines of yourself in the street in front of
your house. you were ten and a half years old
and nobody understood that you were already
dead. that skipping stones and making wishes
didn’t work. you place one more stone and it
makes the circle complete. there is safety
within circles, it keeps things out. you drew
a chalk circle around your bed and around your
own neck. you step back, strike the match,
arc of flame that catches to tinder. the fire is lit.
there is safety within circles. it keeps things in, too.
he burns my journal in his mouth, his head a pot-
bellied stove where memory goes to die. swallowed
by flame, all recollection of the past year turns
to oily, ashen fragments. they stick to my dried
twig hands, black and gray leaves. my mother
said never trust anyone who came out of the birth
canal the wrong way. the hemispheres of his skull
pushed up against each other, miniature earth-
quake. what made his mother name him so, why
that arrangement of letters? so many curves to
learn when writing first names, following the line
to the end of the page. spit out the charred bits
of my adolescence with sharp-shocked hands on me,
fingers fitting perfectly between the slats of my ribs.
he touches my elbow with his hand and my hymen
immediately breaks in ecstasy. i smear blood across
his television eyes. he leaves: footprints of static,
a pile of ash.
i am the many-faceted diamond of your insomnia
and i cut away at the basalt of your head to find
lava on the inside. deer leap out, covered in soot.
a flock of birds with wings aflame. the first sign
is always the animals. the ancient turtle that strains
to move quickly, quicker, legs lifting against the weight
of memory. the squirrels with tails like tiny burning
brush fires. your head is erupting, spewing forth
your past in blackened char, your present molten
rock. you destroy with no intention of recreating.
the animals will never return. you will wake light
as pumice, empty in the sunlight.
for what it’s worth, i tried to limit my lying to you
to about twice a day and never before we were
to eat dinner together. nice tie, i said,
fingers crossed behind my back, so it wouldn’t
count. you said something gracious about my
dress and we sat, opening the bottle of wine
i love red wine, i said, corkscrew in my fist.
i snuck a cigarette out back, then sprayed myself
with the perfume of lust so you wouldn’t notice
the stench of vice. but sometimes i underestimated.
when you said you liked my mother’s lasagna,
i traded it with silence about the shirt you wore
to my sister’s wedding. when you asked me
did you? i kissed you a maybe but it was always
a let-down. but i never lied with my hands.
or when i had my lips against your skin, ghost
murmurs against tattoos blue, green, on the heels
of empty breath. i lied to you about the color
of your eyes and you almost, almost believed me.
he was a marching band cymbal crasher
and the sound carried through the rain like
an echo reverberating off the small of a back,
her back, as she turned in the sluice to look
at him and then ran, squeezing through
the gap in the fence to reach the street,
up piermont ave across kinderkamack and down
again to the gazebo scrawled with penises and
hearts and dates and SD + [someone’s
name crossed out] 4EVA and she climbed
up into the top, knees locked around a beam
of wood and she could still hear him laughing
like a trumpet brilling and she prayed
that the gods of sound would make her
deaf forever in that drenching torrent
of textbook molecules that now soaked her
skin and she shivered to remember something
warm and wet where there was now only cold.
she was an agoraphobic within her own heart,
listening to the beat of percussive want from
the inside, putting her hands against the shadows
on the walls, and he was the blood clot she needed
to stop the bleeding from her ears, he was the
blood clot that would eventually kill her.
in the morning they found an outline of her body
in rust, and they could not distinguish between
the rain and the tears, the blood rimming the edge
of a dissonant cymbal.