HERE BE DRAGONS
That is not what I meant at all;
That is not it, at all.
Words like individual raindrops frozen together
Into a contorted Marsyas,
An icicle sculptured in the heart of Misunderstanding,
Mean whatever the foreigner feigns
But demand a tear.
Honest voices breathe fog on the mere,
God’s thumbnail cannot reflect, so I’m all Foxgloves,
But echoes return empty handed,
Without discovery – Here be dragons!
Surely these words must be read or sung
But never spoken.
I hear a funeral in my head, the words I misinterpreted,
The mourners from a family I never knew
In noir veils, curtains on leaking windows,
Passing so intently I cannot move,
But I wish to introduce myself,
To embrace them, to tell them I too loved their dead…
But such things cannot be said.
The melody, pregnant with magical metaphors,
Keeps me awake at night
But will become white noise in Time, the ugly twin of Space,
When the power of undiagnosed contagious emotions
Is weakened by continuous feeling,
When the meaninglessness becomes the meaning –
Already I’m getting too familiar, and once the roots take,
It’ll be alive on its own, and I worry I kill all life
With thoughts too sharp to confidently comfort even myself;
It will become another definition, another gentrification,
Diluting its colors to imitate the bigger picture,
And eventually even if I can, I won’t want to
Pick it out of a lineup.
– The rest is silence.
THE BLACK WOLF
- John 11:35
Blood dries under kaleidoscope streams
Of sunshine let in by stained glass portraits
Of Abraham and Isaac, of Mary and Jesus,
And a carcass behind the pulpit
Is preserved by salty fears
As I watch from outside open doors.
A halo in the peak of the vaulted ceiling
Reveals three-in-one vultures circling,
Crowning the holy hole,
Praying on the dead.
Hymnals thumpin’ primates’ chests
Keep the beat of war…
And there’s a skeleton at the organ
Of light, trying to settle the score...
“This was done with good intentions.
We swear I had all good intentions.”
Row by row, beat by beat,
They tithe tears.
Still a snow-white crow survives
On an arm of the cross on the wall,
Judging silently all whom try
Before the unblinking wings of its eyes.
And to this crow,
I hear some whisperer confess,
“Sometimes I wish he’d die
So our relationship,
Which is all the more acceptably unsuccessful
With the addition of each day,
Could be saved from tomorrow.”
With crying ears
I turn away from the pulpit and the pews,
Assume my abomination;
Never again will I sit among the animals
Who cull themselves, the humans.
I turn… still turning…
To the mirror ahead I can see behind
Where daylight comes but never goes…
My god… Oh… No… No.. No…
In the morning, I recall the future,
A dream I had in the womb, as certain as my death.
The day ahead and behind are so familiar to me
That I know my worth, the lonely height of my rank –
My ego will be excused – has been excused – animates my legend.
But of this I’m unsure because Time won’t tell:
Do I steal from the dead or did they steal from me?
In the afternoon, along the shore, I look behind for my footprints,
And already the tide has washed away my existence,
But turning back, there I am before me, as pioneer, as prophet:
I’m naked, the sun is my halo,
And my hair is braided with seaweed – I’ve come from the ocean floor –
And my skin is sprinkled with glistening sea diamonds,
And my eyes reflect the whole world.
My god, we are so beautiful.
In the evening, our eyes, our globes, are tired, and so we dim them
To listen only to the rhythm in the breathing of the waves –
We sit and let the ripples stretch to our toes,
Smile as they try again and again to get more of us,
The only thing more mysterious than their depths.
And we write gently in the wet sand, the stardust,
With a middle finger:
Elsewhere, somewhere outside Time,
White ashes are falling with the snow,
Are remnants of a newspaper article about the end of a drought.
I carry a hand held mirror and stretch it out with its face to the sky
So the ash can see, before it settles, what it is: not a snowflake.
Josh Pryer lives in Los Angeles, CA, and is currently earning a degree in Comparative Literature.