Day 31 – An Exquisite Corpse of Myself
(Below is a poem I’ve puzzle-pieced together using my single best line/stanza from each and every one of the 30/30 poems I composed this past April for NaPoWriMo 2015. I like to think of it as a combination of two, popular poetic forms – the found poem and the exquisite corpse – and I always find it fascinating to see how these lines and words can be repurposed to create entirely new meaning. If you feel moved by a line, or are curious how it fits in the original poem, then click on it – each one links back to its initial post.)
I have avoided you for years –
the shadow in mirrored corners,
the bloodied teeth behind kind smiles,
the hands reaching for knives and throats,
wanting them so desperately to meet.
Every time, you hand me the machete
and point in the best right direction,
the cumbersome blade always seems to fall
upon flesh, turn inward against bone,
rip into tendon and slice open heart.
The doctors named it an irritable heart,
tried to quell the beaten
butterflies with bottles of young bourbon.
They were pandering to my evilest self,
the sign I was birthed under,
the snake I was born to be.
And this slither has a knack
for knocking and unlocking
even the darkest of doors.
So I dreamt of you on the eve of your birthday –
my subconscious remembering the date
from our school-years togetherness,
recalling our nights of throwing back drinks
with our hips, sloshing the vodka inside them.
Yet our waters are still
mysterious to even us –
but swim in this long enough, and you learn
to trust them, believe
they’ll always be there for you
and your pilfering.
I scratched you across concrete
under dim streetlamp, noticing
the hobble in your step matched
the backtrack of your whimpering.
I pondered the pool at its base,
toyed with the idea of jumping in its depths
with my whole being to slap
just like the water slaps,
and hope you can bear
the weight of our burdens.
When we beast-howl at the glowing rock
in the sky, we’re only ever asking for it
to move oceans in our favor,
to shallow the land that separates us
from what was born to be our next kill.
We repeat until bloated,
until we just can’t swallow anymore.
Purge it all and choose to starve
instead of partaking.
we’re tired of suffering
Come, watch him crash now,
with nothing left to catch
but his last breath.
Become another tragic tale of the road,
a cautionary story that overprotective mothers
whisper into the ears of their sleeping infants.
Dear Self-Titled Poet,
Throwing flowery words
like darts at your page
will never make a bouquet.
Your bull’s-eye is closed
and your lines are sheepish.
They need to be sheared back to skin
so they can learn to bleed on paper,
grow back stronger than how they flew
from your fearful veins.
And this is copy/paste command –
more outline than outlaw,
you are the swamp’s most silent martyr,
and we’ve always tasted your devotion
with every burnt mouth speaking in tongues broken.
Behind the static, there’s this:
a worn phrase match-tipped
to the flame of his held tongue –
When I was your age.
But here was their problem: they were
always using confusing and cryptic language,
phrasings and metaphors that didn’t tend toward timeless,
making arcane references to their own favorite, sacred writer –
some old guy
who’d abandoned them in the afterbirth,
dip stains and crumbling gums
always betraying the tobacco on his breath
and cheap wine in his belly.
So start from scratch,
face blank page with only full palette,
arrange, and rearrange,
the order of selves, changing.
Because they forget, like I forget,
that come morning,
they will have been brushed away
with the evening tide,
crumbled back into formless grains
hungry for the restructuring
into something more than a symbol
for what once was.
And this, this is what confidence feels like –
the realization that none of this affects you,
nothing here can harm you,
nobody can drive you to harm yourself.
Tomorrow, life would carry on for me,
unchanged by the events of the evening before.
Hugged only by the darkness,
I dreamt of him –
the man you’d always wished I’d become,
but would never ask me to be.
I am standing at your altar,
with self-sharpened knife
pressed to pulsing vein, welling,
willing and ready to drain myself
for your bemusement,
hoping for only a chance
to learn your tested techniques –
how you hold pen like ceremonial blade,
angled proper for extracting the most
from each slow, scraping, skilled incision.
She will move only in my mind,
mouthing taunts through pursed lips,
her body rippling with each turned cover,
already forgotten for the next dame
damned and exiled
upon every single shiny page.
Three months gone turned to
three minutes in for you too –
the shame of honor.
And I wish your numbers
would have included more people
you could have counted on.
And I think you’d come to wish the same.
The skittering of stilettos that roam, hear them home.
The squeak of rubber soles on mopped tile, hear them home.
Because the absence is returning soon,
and we must not waste
we must not want
for the shortness of our closeness
is a blown breath against the flame
shared in confidence and after years
of trust borne, and reborn.
And the worst you could ever do
is stand back in shyness-silence, pretending
the thought of unknown lips pressed together
had never crisscrossed your wet mind.
So gorgeous mother,
rip blue shadow from my bones,
smear my worship here –
I am but man,
you are home.