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For J.B. Harlan


My love, is it the devil or the saints

that lead you back into your faith

when, all along, the reason

why you came was your

mute and blazing

craving for forgiveness —

a love of confession —

when we come from

sin in the first place

(and have run that race

to emerge golden,

glorious, victorious)?

At least for now,

you carry your religion

less like a blanket

and more like a silenced gun.


I want to say I do not wonder if

you miss me. I want to say I’ve lost

track of the days since we last spoke,

since I felt your rough hands land

on my back as your fingers would find

lines of divine electricity alive in my spine.

I want to say I do not recall how many

weeks have passed since you last

kissed me. I want to ignore the time

that’s poured through my front door;

how many shoes in the hall, discarded,

or how many men; how many times

I’ve wished it was you, instead.

I don’t know, anymore, the names of

stars that slip by like good wine, the nights

gone since either of us called you mine.

I want to say that there is no love

for you left in either my heart or my

head, but we both know I’d be lying.

I want to say I could not place your

taste if I tried, but I dine on reveries

of you still by my side.


[I am not sure, cannot be sure:

do you still love me anymore?]

You leave me shipwrecked

on honey-dewed honeymoon shores

to build a boat of pictures

I’ve always seen before,

bittersweet, moaning:

“I still adore you, honey;

don’t forget the second door:

newly expectant of its own

closing, newly driven

towards exploding. Without

your bones to warm this form,

I am pale and poor and cold.”


I am brushing my moving

lips, currant-red, against

the leaden pages of scripture.

I am yearning for your flesh

instead. I long to be pure.

I lay my coarse belief to bed.

I am led by impassioned

communions. You know how

well my hymns can soothe.

I let their rhythms summon you.

I invoke Thee,




I invoke Thee,

Mistress and Master,

Father and Mother.

I invoke Thee,



Part of our glory

always rested in ceremony.


Honey, does she know

all the things you told me?

Has she heard all

your golden stories?

[ I sip Water

and spit Ore. ]

Perhaps I thought you’d never

find our love a bore. Perhaps

it caught the charcoal, the tinder,

the kindling strewn about my soul,

then coaxed a bonfire from my core.

Maybe I still hear the cinders spark

and pop. Maybe I wish I could stop

seeing the sick replaying of

that perfect, silly, awful evening

when you stopped speaking

only to drop to one knee —

on piebald grass beneath some

gangly churchyard tree — in

sweating cobblestone streets — and more! —

upon my filthy townhouse floor —

to drop to one knee

and ask if you could

marry me —

and I said yes,

but I am weeping.


Maybe that’s where I

stored up my belief

and am now left with

only sacrificial meaning.


These days,

when I pray,

I wonder if anyone

hears me. I wonder

if anything’s still


I’ve learned to create

my own plagues.


Your quiet is hounding

me. Haunted, I scream:

“It is you, honey, it is you

and not your phantom

that I need.”

Beside you,

I found my

Holy City.

In me

once beat

a trinity.

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