baby’s breath

He wanted to grow old. Not the reality of aging; the loss of bodily processes and the scent of death and decay lingering about the body like a lover. Not the kind of death that follows you and makes others uncomfortable with you because of your proximity to It.

No, he wanted the romantic age. To see the fine papering of his skin with the bones that have been with him all the while still strong (though knotted and perhaps a little softened) beneath.

The age that sees rows of wrinkles like freshly planted crops drawn across the expanse of his face, a map of who he had been.

He wanted to have been many things. Mostly worthy things. Real things.

He wanted to complain, loudly, about the menial and mundane. He wanted to be swept into the monotony of dwindling time, wanted to catch his breath with a memory so real he could still feel the warmth of it on his skin.

He wanted to be pampered, but not infantilized. He wanted to be heard and sought out, he wanted his words to drop from him as a fount of wisdom. He wanted people to collect memories of him and tell them back ages later.

He wanted to be definitively old, all the black of his hair long gone. The old that snores loudly in any number of places, that strikes up unpretentious conversation with any living being in the room. He did not want the loneliness of aging, though he would not have minded every now and again being alone.

He wanted to be able to tell them about the silver linings that one can only see from the distance of years measured against a past ache. He could tell them how much time it would take because he would have crossed the bridge and would have measured its length.

He wanted the time that comes with age. The romance, too, fake though he always knew it was, but he wanted time. He wanted meaning.

Instead, in the end, he got the jagged piercing of the heart, the abrupt cessation of everything he was and ever would be, the ripping of the string, the all encompassing blackness, the void, the fiery anger of unrequited want—all tangled with the sweet innocence of a baby’s breath still lingering on his cheek.

but only Jesus wept

His father was away. Not permanently( though he had never seen him). No, he was away and waiting and would return soon.

The house must be clean to greet him.

The food prepared.

The body bloodied.

The eyes turned to heaven unblinking,

Throat parched and knees aching;

Should his father find him not prone and wanting for nothing

He would be angry and would turn away, leaving him to perish (he would perish anyway, but still.

This would be eternal and the first death would sting but only a little).

His father’s absence could not be viewed as permanent or even really away, for he was absent in love.

His father angered quickly.

He had never seen his father so he could only tell of his anger secondhand

But he assumed his own hunger, which his father could quickly abate, was a test.

If only he loved his father enough and tread the path of Righteousness (razor thin and devoid of sound and light) carefully he would not starve (in this life he might. But in the next he would be full and live with him in paradise).

In paradise he would be free–

To tell his father at great intervals how very much he adored him.

His voice would be used as his father wished to thank his father for his own life. For greeting him in eternity and allowing him to look upon his glorious face. To know that his endless suffering was so that his father might hear this praise and be satisfied.

The threat of flames lapped at his heels and his skin blistered. The unceasing wailing of those drowning in the lake of fire bled through his ears in the night. His father took pity on them so that they might not die; rather they could drown again and again and wonder that they did not thank him enough to be spared.

He himself could spare no thought for them, the undying. To think of them was to question his father, and though he could not see him he could feel his disappointment. How very much those thoughts would displease him.

Bloody tears rubbed his skin raw. He begged his father to stay his hand, or perhaps even reveal it, but received no answer.

He would die for his father.

Sun parched and aching and earth bound and lonely.

Perhaps his father would hear him and take him down? Perhaps he would appear and show them–all of them that he had not been wrong.

His father would return.

He would save him.

He would. It was the way of fathers.

The sun rose. And set. Rose. And set again.

And still his father remained silent.

Absent.

His tears of blood stirred the dust.

Alone and fatherless Jesus wept.

Everything I Have Never Known

Ruby (but they say hooker red) cloak and sanguine lips (slut); wash and go coils moisturized (nappy); chin high (uppity); eyes focused and direct (bitch). They are brown and for a long time you will want any other color.

Blue perhaps.

79 percent of the world’s population has brown eyes. Earthen eyes. Golden honey when illuminated by sun. Only when illuminated are they worth mentioning. They are godlike in their golden illumined splendor. Out of the sun they are forgettable. In a brown face they are dangerous, particularly when they pierce directly.

Speak carefully and confidently (show off). Work ethically and passionately (asshole).

Spend more money than you will ever repay (fool) and live with the crushing grief of your mistake.

Lose your religion like change in the gutter. Miss it, ashamedly, like an absentee father who you only ever wanted to please and could he (please please please) at least show up for your birthday?

Watch your dreams from the rotted end of a forgotten dock; you could close your eyes and put a toe in but you know the dock will crumble and you can’t swim. You took lessons but they didn’t take (failure).

Wear the ruby because it makes you feel good. They will call you slut. Your chin will unsettle them—who are you to move about, with nary a dream met, in complete chaotic splendor?

You will unnerve them. Unmake them. You must do this, or else be unmade.

You will be lonely and often, alone.

You must not yield for them. Should you yield you will lose the light and you will die. You will die anyway, but without the light—though fleeting—you will die an age before you draw your final breath.

Do not stop. You will see the bodies and bones of everyone you ever were amidst the ruins of everything you never knew.

You will be afraid to look upon the visage of past despair.

Climb over.

Beneath.

Through.

Crush them if you must. The voices in your head will never silence, the grip on your throat will never loosen. Use the fire of the hatred that laps at your heels to light your way, but keep moving.

Sleep No More

One of the last of the old guard

has fallen

And he alone remains,

stooped and slowed;

still, there is strength in his resolve.

Tangled in the cobwebs of what

they all were together

he, the god of time-rent yesterdays,

stands sentinel:

Holding fast to their firsts,

And their lasts;

Their triumphs,

Their failures;

Their inside jokes;

Their remembrances.

The smell

And the taste

And the stardust and magic

that made them

Escape him now,

Diaphanous and fleeting as dreams

Still warm

But fading and already missed.

He is weary and afraid.

Perhaps they will not be there

With the other half of

the memory he holds

The whole of it to fill in

the aged pieces

He grasps like anchors

in a tightening plane.

He is afraid he does not belong here

And perhaps there is no there.

He loses time

Gets lost in himself

When he awakens he is in the dark

Though all around him is light

Perhaps more brilliant

than any he has ever known.

In sleep he remembers whole

And he is whole.

He loosens his grip

Just to rest beneath

this old familiar veil once more.

Perhaps now

Or in a number of countable breaths

He will exhaust his space here

Will lapse into the dream

From which he will at last not awaken

And over that which they all were

He will stand sentinel

No more.