La petite mort

midnight –
and the wolves won’t stop howling
and you aren’t here –
but your scent traces the windowpane
resisting the onslaught of another southeaster
you stay –
and i can’t help but breathe you in
lungs languishing in loving revolt
against the invasion of oxygen in the midst of this souvenir
you left behind –
while i lie here breathing you in
heart folding gently around some small token of sin
symbolizing the movement from sand to castle
you built –
but the foundation’s worn thin
and the crow is drawing near

Another unfinished lustpoem

I open my eyes and there he is
like a fever dream gone nuclear
the razor sharpness in his eyes
tear the words from the back of my throat
to my lips where they dangle
incomplete like this space between us
there is a million tiny miles
I’m not sure I will ever get there
with these letters covering the curve
of my most attractive feature
then like any good hallucination he
morphs into a city of lights
and the thoughts that are stuck
in between my teeth like the fleshy part of a mango
turn saline and crystallise in place
I smile almost as bright as he does
when he draws the last bit of energy from
my heart is bigger than my hands
where I see his resting cradling
my words so they do not slip from my grasp
and end up on his tongue.

The Traveller

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I couldn’t see anything when I came back the first time. There was a man, but I didn’t know him, not really, except that he was dangerous and soft and when he whispered in my neck I ceased to exist. I returned with his words and his scent in the back of my throat. The city cast a shadow in which I was invisible. It was revelry at its purest; it was me at my worst and best and truest self. When I stepped out of it I disappeared, but nothing stays hidden for long where I’m from.

***

Nights in the city breathed the loving beats of fog machines and cloudy neon visions of pleather robots sticking to the walls and the floor and the ceiling. We sucked lollipops for the bitter and pretended it all went away. Smoke filled our lungs and our heads but we kept our hearts to ourselves because some things were sacred, even in this circus town.

In the mornings, which were mostly the afternoons, we watched the ink melt off our skin in the drops of summer sun and leave its tell-tale purple stain. Those days were too bright and too often too intimate. There were weeks in between that we filed under afterglow, but it was probably just a trick of the light. We could have gotten up and gotten out, but the lethargy was comfortable and the effort didn’t seem worth the risk. For hours we languished on park benches and patches of grass covered in chestnut blossoms, talking about ISIS and VAW and FGM and feeling orgasmic in each other’s sentences. He wrote lust letters on my thighs with the tips of his fingers; I composed my most polished poetry in the grips of our sighs. Between us there were no secrets that were worth keeping, and the mundane did not deserve utterance.

***

For a long time afterwards I was a blank space. I filled the cracks with a veneer that refracted light. The surface was a Rothkonian masterpiece; the depths were a kaleidoscopic fuckup. That winter the rain came pouring down by the bucket-load and seeped in through the cracks, disturbing the delicate balance of the colour canvas until nothing was left but shit-stain brown. By the time the southern sun passed by to fade the remnants, the mould had set in.

The progression of time came to be marked by periods of sleep that became longer and more restless until one day I didn’t wake up. I sat in silence at my knuckle-bone desk and took it all in without taking anything in and without giving anything back. At times I felt myself naked as the sun stroked the soles of my feet, but there were places only the moon could reach: the corners of my eyes, the base of my spine, the back of my throat. The walls grew darker even as the clouds gave way to spring and eventually to summer. I wore a chaotic silence like a protective cloak to work, to bed, everywhere, nowhere. Slowly I shed the city and retained only the very necessary. There were times when even that seemed like too much.

***

When at last there was nothing left of me I heard his words in the distance, a siren song for the recently deceased. But I had nowhere to turn and no way to move, and the desire to lose myself overpowered the urge to find him.

Almost.

The city does not let go of you that easily. I had barely tilted my head in the direction of his voice, yet I found myself enveloped in the shadows again. The sameness was comforting, but I was no longer alone in the shadows. My invisibility had stripped itself from me in the place where I was from. The sun clung to me even on the wildest nights. The man, who I didn’t know, still didn’t know after all this time, didn’t care to know, who didn’t know me, was just another traveller getting lost in the city. Like me he had disappeared in the murky recesses of the carnivale and had been unable to find his way back. We sat in silence on opposite banks staring at the river, waiting for a sign, a hand, anything at all, but it never came and we had nothing more to say.