You need them to need you.
To feed you plastic
meat in bowls and nuzzle
you with naked hands.
To do things you could have done
if you remembered how.
If the warmth of the kennel
didn’t make you forget.
so that you don’t bark back
as you’re meant to.
as they glaze you with praises
like honey on ham scraps.
They’re built to love you,
campfires still dance in the bright of their eyes.
But they’re also made to leave you.
When you limp and can no longer chase.
When your sugared tongue refuses to lick.
When your ears refuse to perk.
Die, and come into your own.
My child, You are an apocalypse.
The flicker of mothflutter in your throat
is the essence of an ending.
To suppose that I once held my own death
in tremoring hands, that I sung lullabies
to euthanasia herself.
You’ve grown so much.
Others get letters from their children, visits
maybe, for the lucky ones.
I receive neither,
but I see the moon in pieces and I think of you.
You hop over realities
like you once played jump rope
in our front yard, letting the winter grass
and weeds wind in between your toes.
I wonder if you think of that, of me,
as you push this boulder into the sun.
I wonder if you can hear me calling
over the death rattle of the winter grass.
chase your tail in temporal circles if you must
don’t forget this:
even a maid as mighty as yourself was once mortal.
A young god, but still.
I went too far.
You’ve never forgiven me for that.
Dressed in black, always the capricious one,
I bathed all that we had
in your bedroom, I quivered and bent
in a thousand directions. Like the drying paintings,
the lines of my body
were tactless and arabesque in your sketches,
stretching outwards, but you drew me anyway.
You used to make me,
to mold my skin underneath the fingertips
lifted now between teeth.
The paint was never so red, I think.
But the figure in whitespace was me,
not this muddled canvas, this
I begin to wonder
if I ever did know you.
You invited me over to see
how this art has taken you. Your possessions
that never needed me. Your dogs
who have forgotten me. Both of these
raise their hackles as I cross the threshold.
Oh honey, why did you bring me here, why
am I to stay sentry while you wash
your brushes, cupping hands to make
a ritual, to give yourself
the control that I couldn’t.
After all, I never modeled for you,
I could never sit still.
Now, to see you bless the canvas,
my goat heart swells beneath my hide.
The Order of Execution
The executioner is hereby ordered
to follow through from head
until the vein below
the jaw is
the only thing left, its bow
and quiver springing back
with every word.
Shoot and restring.
Shoot and restring, the vein
curls like an ouroboros letting
arrows. A porcupine ostensibly decorates
his needles in self defense
(although who can deny how good they look
when dipped in red?).
The vein is the proof, the boar’s heart—
the body is not dead.
So perhaps the executioner’s title
should be weaponsmith,
should be hunter.
The prey’s Id is folded
into an origami arrow, a compass
towards her adolescent hurt.
A glare is third degree as much
as any slur or slight. She becomes
a heat-seeking missile
of a woman.
In the eye of this new warden,
all sins are equal.
So much reminds me—like ears folded red, velvet
petals on the head of some kid in the front pew.
They will fall soon enough,
like my countenance in winter—some chapped lips
and the saint name you never knew. I do,
no longer. I’m not, enough—
no dessert wine dripping, not sweet enough—
no beeswax candles, not bright enough—
no icons to kiss. Not holy enough—I
cross myself, and hope and hope and hope to die.
You say, enough.
The wine of your name on lips, dripping, stays patient enough
fractured, frenzied, filaments of my rapture, not measured enough,
my personal puppetmaster—
No son of God, but you are enough
To deny my salvation. Though I spend enough
time on waxburned knees, mourning enough—
I love you. And that is supposed to be enough. But,
without the moon-eyed laughter buried between cheeks,
the circumference of your curls seems infinite.