The Pythagoreans believed that ten was the most sacred number in the universe. They used it when they made their most holy oaths. In loose homage to that belief, this poem is a prayer in ten parts, one of the poems I’m working on for my collection titled So Speak the Stars. I write these at night, when I can’t sleep, and the whole world seems to speak to me in the language of eternity.
I have turned in on myself,
a blossom unflowering, bleeding purple
a beehive collapsing, seeping honey
a black hole swallowing space and time
until nothing remains but
this cold ache
this stony place where you once sat
the hole I refuse to fill
with anything but your missing face.
Dogs howl in the streets
as if crying can bend time backward
turn what is into what was.
I do not want that.
I want something that has never been
not in this world
not in this life.
The knife of your spirit comes to me in the night
cuts me until I bleed visions.
I see your pores leaking light.
I save every sacred word you say.
When day breaks this time,
I beg you,
do not float away.
Do not evaporate like mist.
I have already been kissed by death.
I am alive only because I love a ghost
that may someday slip back into his body
and run to me.
Allergic to sun, I moonbathe.
Trees buckle knobby knees,
bend to pet me.
I let them.
In lieu of men
I love star-beams.
I give my body to the wind.
The sky licks me.
I spread my legs wide,
let Life inside.
I am never
I have given up on trying to understand.
Madness eschews method by definition.
It is only this:
Make it through today,
and his ghost will creep to your bedside.
Maybe this time
when midnight splits,
and a slit of horizon gives birth to dawn’s tattered tangerine sky,
he will un-die, come in the flesh
riding on the back of something mortal and meaty.
A lucky, buckle-backed horse, rescued from a glue factory.
A rusted out truck, lifted from the city dump.
He will shuck the corn of you,
swallow you whole
lend his lips to your skin.
Your sins will be undone.
You will bow before him.
You will call him God
his invisible spirit has been
The alpha and omega
The unseen mover
The bread of life
The silent prayer
The only thing
that has kept you breathing.
Sun still seeps from aching ground.
You are all around me and nowhere at once.
I stumble on through a thick night blighted by stuttering owls and thunder.
Red rocks rip my feet.
Yuccas tear me.
I stay silent, having become accustomed to perpetual gutting.
Crickets speak in tongues.
Wind runs fingers through my hair,
whispering my name in your voice.
Come, come, come.
When you call, I can’t run.
My shattered legs betray me.
Am I undone completely?
Unraveled, I clatter like lightning over rain swollen clouds.
Pointless, I splatter like a wandering squall, sloshing and scattered upon boulders.
What is left of me when there is no you?
A pile of bones,
A puff of hair,
Three ounces of air,
And a stiletto.
Have I given my best meat to the dogs?
If only grief were good for something.
If only I could weave it into a coat
wrap it around me
keep out the cold,
but grief is made of nothing but holes.
In dreams, I braid your hair into a cocoon
sleep peacefully, finally.
Starlight splints my shattered bones.
Soon I’ll be ready to run.
Whisper again, my love.
Come, come, come.
I buy new legs
a bag of silk fresh from the worm
butterfly wings, still wet,
and a kite.
I poise on a branch, ready to take flight.
My tongue becomes a proboscis
penetrates the dark.
Night’s nectar tastes like you.
When midnight cracked, the black rolled back.
You walked out from nothing, being light,
and there was my reason to breathe.
Newborn star, fall into my mouth.
Be a coin to this corpse.
Pay the ferryman to row me to place of the deathless.
Infinite love, breathe your life into the mud of me.
Make me rise to God.