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First Touch

Airway. Lung. Beat.

Immediacy is a god discovered

by hands which are little gods too—

miracle digits for sparking pneuma in lungs,

dilation to pupils, animation in heart.


Babies cry. Birth is the first trauma, so they say—

even lithopaedions have birthdays, eventually,

but not Galatea. She’s a milestone in the life of another.


As he excavates the lucky caul from her face,

he imagines her becoming under his chisel.



Wherever’s quiet. She annexes in a side room,

the door which catches in the jamb’s gentle grasp

a high relief. Pyg’s talking shop with potential buyers

and his porcine cohort. Gal’s diaphragm stops playing

wife. Breathe out. Green incense envelops her senses,

and there’s the woman with the hound, quaffing a red pint,

legs pretzeled on the floor. Motioning the stone girl over, she

deadpans, “It’s grenadine, not blood.” Passes a fat lit

token of meadow, wrapped beauty smouldering at tip.

Gal a sputtering faucet sits sub rosa, chatty, hears she

is there to support a local musician, take in perspective.

Pay my awe like respects. If I’m gone too long he’ll say

I’m Missing in Action, Gal’s eyes reveal, sex puns forth-

coming. They laugh the speak of widow maker, two friendly

clots in the hallway’s vein. Sex Positions for Spinal Injuries,

not yet confirmed alive or dead. Lapidate me, go on. No penalty

for my lapis lazuli say-what-I-want. “Where I’m from punishment is

foregoing the gelatin palatinoid so your medicine tastes bitter.

Gentle cruelty—a hard-to-swallow pill,” replies Persephone,

exhaling soft wedding rings of smoke. A matter of dosage determines

poison or panacea but what about absorption? Think exposure therapy

and sugar coat. The pallas trauma of blunt misdeeds smashing

abalone with otter-skill abandon and pelted. Yet my bivalve

sexuality, even so. Scallops have a central scar, a bract,

and the closeups of their iridescent blue eyes in the bay

a religious tract. Spelean sea pig splutters smut. I said

earlier, playing wife, by which I mean playing alive.

So mobile I cannot be caught.


Sui Generis

Fewest favours lead one to this gloom realm as a glad guest

in your home, but I knew her in another life.


And him too. I don’t mean to throw shades;

my love a game of pick-up-Styx is no

laureled con with promised entry to

the isles of the blessed, because

I needed a vacation from

the marrow dread of being a holiday destination.

Hear my unbreakable oath. My heart

is grazed cheeks on deathless marble,

tongued plot and limp rags limning in

the crevasse no one ever thought to ask,

and I can’t help but wonder, did Eros misfire,

striking me repeatedly with matchstick rather than carbon-tipped arrow?

This righteousness of gods and arson.


My Tartarus famine you assuage—

The mint, fragrant, sown by undead vagrants

has me in a white-poplar bind. In my mind,

a runner stone scissors its nether, going

through the motions as it pounds grain to flour,

but with enough pressure, ever the most desiccated grain simmers to diamond.


I knew her in another life. Woo me gentle, sui generis.

Eat the food of the dead, break their bread.

Quench ruby thirst with chthonic fruit, swallow pomegranate seed.

No one stays until they want. One of a kind—

Pious in the tall, wild grass amidst the asphodel, call for ash.

 Beware all ye who enter and be brave to those who leave.