Capturing Myth, Retrospect

Further Summer (Sunflowers)

It is a cold end to August,
but the warmth comes out
again in September.
I walk through a field of sunflowers,
little faces dried from tears:
seeds hardening from the left,
petals blooming from the right.

I sit with the sunflowers. I look for the sun.

There isn’t much to do
but wait,
clinging to a rock for nine days straight,
staring at the Sun who chases the river.
He chases the forest, chases the stars,
one side of the heavens to the other.

My hot cheeks beg to be drowned
in a mountain lake
when he burns for days, and chases us.

But when the clouds roll,
when he hides a hemisphere away,
the burns on our lips sting
with salt.

Though the morning dew goes frosty,
and winter starts singing from the hills,
we fight for fire,
growing taller, getting dryer.

The heliotropes lie fragrant
beneath my feet,
and my sunburn grows new skin and freckles
while the sunflowers drop their seeds,
little prayers in hard shells.

It is ending, this warm dream,
dying in my hands.

Snow will come soon
to muffle the harvest
and blanket the trees
while He is far away,
loving a further summer,
and unable to burn.

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Retrospect

I tremble
when he touches me.
The simple answer
is right out of the books,
the riddle of soft petals,
rough oak. I am the October leaf
clinging
to the branch, growing pale
with small deaths,
but the buzz of ozone and cicada
shatters my heart in
a burst, like glass
heated too quickly.
Silence fits the taste
that fills my throat
better than the words
out of the books,
or the touch of forest flowers;
misery makes
a better companion than
the misplaced forever
I have planted
in his arms;
but still I look at him
with lover’s eyes,
wounded by every absence,
the small deaths stacked up
to thousands.

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Retrospect

Blood on the Altar

This is a place of worship,
and you ask for it
polluted.

You bring my purity as libation,
suckle at the wetness
on the altar,
plunging your hands in the viscera
of my flesh so I am reduced
to fat and warmth – seized,
and touched
the way I like it:
velvet, and sand spilling.

So you lay me out
to be eaten on the slab, and drink
from the innocence,
drawn to the pulse
and the throbbing pain. My belly
the hearth
is hot for you.

While you cut the shame
from my body,
and the whiteness runs down the stone
in slow trickles,
I close my eyes
and wonder if lambs take as much
pleasure in sacrifice
as I do.

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Retrospect

3.11.2016

In second grade,
I learned that every person was once swirling matter
in the belly of a star
and that horrified me,
because at night my father would take me on walks
and I would crane my head up and look at the stars
over the field by our flat.
“There are two stars here,” and point,
crush my cheek to his so I could see.
I hurt my neck by straining it for hours
so I could pick apart two flames
burning years and years
into the darkness.
So everyone comes from
these hot stomachs,
but I didn’t want to believe
that the boy who tore up butterflies and stuck his scale-covered fingers in his nose
was made of the same things that the sun was,
and I did not want to believe
that there was no light on either end
but for the brightness
far away,
past the glow of Dad’s smile.
Loneliness still scares me: I think I am happier
as the dying remnant of some starry bile
than I would be as Sirius, as Betelgeuse,
as Alpha Centauri.

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Retrospect

Birds Without Wings

if you were a bird,
my dear
(with feathers and glass-drop eyes)
i would have loved you
for a moment,
maybe watched you fly
into the air on finch’s wings

birds do not shatter the heart
which does not swallow easy,
incidentally,
finding love within the bounds
of nests and eggshells,
dying with the winter leaves

birds do not kiss
like starving men, nor shiver
when touched, nor wipe
away tears with five fingers
and a smile

birds do not teach women lessons
like how to love a thing so much
it purifies you,
finds a place
in the bottom of your belly
warm enough for a god to live in

so you are a man,
my dear,
though my fingers know your skin
like a bird knows her skies

& there is no nest I like better
than the warmth of your neck,
& no wings I prefer to your spirit,
& no song I’d rather listen to
than the words
that go so carelessly
spilling out of your mouth

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Introspect, Retrospect

Do Ut Des

they do not tell you (your parents I mean)
how easy it is to steal.
Open folds keep the chill
away,
and laughter buries insecurity,
your fear of death outlining
the eyes and the mouths.

you are given keys
that bite the softness of
holy palm.

the sweet and the sick
make children of us all, hoarding
secrets as if they will keep
the sun burning at night,
flowers blooming
in the winter.

They do not tell you (your lovers
I mean) that you steal
into the secrets; you
can’t reclaim the keys

but you can laugh
at the slipperiness of the feeling,
and how tightly
you let yourself be held,
and how scared you are
of the mouths,
the eyes.

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Retrospect

02.04.16

Eyes grow dark
with the desire
that has left us both blinded.
You weave me into embroidery,
wet silk and dream figures
in the wake of your teeth and the
path your hand burns southward
to the sun. You drown me
in the black softness of your hair,
curls damp around my fingers,
nose buried in the holy intersection
of jaw and neck,
mouth hot
on your pulse.
I know things now
that I did not know
only days before:
the moonlight on your silver
skin, lush with sweat,
the angle of your lazy smile, the panther
limbs and farmer’s hands;
every scar on your arms,
wrists to shoulders. I know
these little secrets well
because you taught me. I am
because you made me,
and I will
go where you lead me,
knees sinking to the ground
in worship, lips moving
in prayer
of a kiss.

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Retrospect

I want to call you darling, but

I want to call you
darling, but
both of us fall undone
by the smallest drop of tenderness.
My breath has been stolen from my lungs
and gone out in search of you,
lingering dream.
It’s not so terrible,
I think, to desire this deeply;
the remnants of you
fill my stomach
in a rush.

i.
walking through a summer blaze,
grass dry on my bare legs,
meditative cicadas thrumming
through your ribs.

ii.
your hands stir sleepy in my hair,
chin buried in that funny sweater.
there is snow outside,
but I am warm.

iii.
we play hide-and-seek in church ruins.
heavy tastes foreign on your tongue,
I run, but you
catch me. tiny lizards watch.

iv.
eagerly, we feed each other
with books, minds growing fat
in the decadence of it all.
shelves fill the walls.

v.
my hand is cold in yours,
silently lost in a gallery.
with the other I slip
haiku in your pockets.

I am too small to beg, but
I do. My mouth to yours,
supplications
between your teeth,
breath happy between
cavities, the hollow
recesses of our bodies.

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Retrospect

In Vain, My Love

In vain you swear,
my love;
where do you drop
your earnest promises
and why?

For even without the oath
I’d believe your pain:
that the moon’s dazed light
does not let you sleep,
that your hushed voice
only knows my name,
that without desire
there’s nothing the world
has to give

You repeat the words
in vain, my love –
I know,
you are pulled towards
and away from me,
under the dazed light.
My mouth
will never receive
my hushed name
from yours,
we have strained out
the desire,
and left the world empty.

(Translated into English from Paruyr Sevak’s original Armenian)

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