I pilgrimaged to see her titanic head
floating against a skyline of shampoo bottles,
then swam up through black hair
and climbed into her ear.
a flaming thing who lived in soundwaves,
she wore cigarettes—
and oh! I thought,
how entropy became her!
Then her brain broke.
She mumbled to animals, saw faces in furniture,
and turned fearful toward the summoning light.
In her fever she forgave the rooftops,
and I, Sir Savior Worldhero,
drove deep into her madness.
I pled her down from sense precipices
and battled badge-eyed police with uniforms as skin.
It was October, and the cold wind cleaned my face.
“This is the afterlife,” she whispered,
“or the beforelife, with Stef Serpent from Eden.”
I stilled her skull
in the shadow
of the church
on the hill.
And she pulled me out of myself.
I had had other plans.
I wanted to become world dictator of words.
Trapped in the smallest of all rooms with myself,
I had been eking out a thousand-word novel,
and I had fed my mind to the clockwork of syntax,
and crucified myself on semi-colon and em-dash,
building the ruins of an idea I could live inside.
Now a new idea took me.
I had to rescue her,
I would take her over all borders,
personal and national,
up immigration mountain,
to my hermitage…
and she would give me a heart,
I married my favourite audience,
a Victorian ghost with charcoaled eyes,
all black skirts and sad classical music,
and put her to bed for a year.
I had been working part time,
now I sliced my life into shift strips,
groveled in garbage jars
and waded hipdeep in greasepits.
And hiked home to tidy her head.
And ate her paranoia for supper.
Grappling in sheets,
long-shadowed in red rainstreets,
we talked the ten thousand miles of the trail to her childhood,
probed her cranial catacombs and dusted under her brainstem,
and found there three hundred of her father’s vodka flasks,
and a Bible with a thick black cover, and no words.
Then, sleepless, full of her, sore and penless,
I biked black windways under cinder skies to factory cities,
to erect sixty smokestacks in a clock circle,
every minute dribbling smoke from drabbest inferno;
I patrolled the fortresses of my enemies and masters,
jingling magic keys to the Land of Boredom,
where the hours crawled on thirty-six hundred legs
past binders and sticky notes, duplicated space,
and bosses’ nests. All my meanings rotting inside,
I went to bed to erase myself.
I limped in circles in a sphere of light.
It seemed she’d outsmarted madness,
then one twilight she disrobed to greet the Lord—
as a favor to me, she did not look into His ravening face.
But I harangued her: so it began.
I jumped on her brain. I deflected her hungry touch.
I instructed her in all she shouldn’t be,
yet stopped permitting her into my alternative reality.
At work I obeyed a conveyor that carried autoparts,
that never slowed though an aged comrade cramped,
coughed up his heart, and waned into the roar…
At home I shouted from the privy,
gnawing cold day-old rat,
sobbing that I was born in Eden
and that she took it from me.
Night after night,
I vomited a piece of my mind.
She spoke of love and I spoke of time,
and it snowed thirty seasons straight
on the spattered stageboards
of our kitchenettes.
Finally she grounded her knees,
warped her fist through the window,
and declared herself the most sane agent of angels,
servant of the Plan and loud speaker of the Word.
people turn 30,
regard the flaming ruins of their twenties,
and this one, manic and lost, retreats to her parents’ god.
and that one, tired and angry,
asks himself why he ever needed to save her.
Was it ever even possible?
I began to have my doubts.
And when she told me that she prayed for my poor lost soul,
that she feared for me if I didn’t repent before judgment,