Fleurs du Mal

Those with baptismals and living mothers,
For whom the bells toll,
At whom the crickets of the veldt titter,
Even the swollen savage, fat in the Saharan sun,
Even my father and his useless gods,
The preacher casting out a million cankerworms.

Those never somethings,
Those never nothings.
They of little faith,
With too much skin.
Some truffles, some trifles.

All who expired yesterday,
Breaking red in tooth, claw, and ticker tape.
Today, I’m starched erect with envy,
Unblemished by the serious misery I tout,
Menacing thankless eyes, I have mastered amphibians.
Much snakery, comforts me.
Then the nameless wife whispers her wisdom,
Come thru curtains: curse God and die.

I try, I tell her,
Woman, Lord knows I try,
But human, my spine is weld up by awards and marmalade.
Just alive, these eyes,
With vista fires, athletic jealousies,
Hair thinning, nutritious pretenses,
Calorie counting.
What a quest, what a queer.

Where now are them days when we feared debt and death?
Tickled by the smooth curves of her hermetic scythe,
By Angel Gabriel, his temper, his member,
By the Second Coming, Jesu Christi. Oluwa o!
Four horsemen, one forty-four thousand redeemed,
And side-dish serving of sulphuric Hell?
By Maman’s flying slippers, right as rain.

Where once sweet lust came quenched by dusk,
A stolen dust-kiss behind the goalpost,
Fireflies, earthworms, and soil between stone toes,
The preacher’s daughter and I:
Warm onion breath, hard frission.
Armed with unripe mangoes, I impressed God.
My abracadabra complete, with stringed dragonflies,
She fell. The way she has fallen for every other fool.
When no bottle-tipped fence,
No bullying girl,
No dog signs,
No leashed he-goat,
Came too daunting to conquest,
To poke with a stick.
Gone, them happy days.

Now I gladly trade bales of this and that,
With the best of yous,
The worst of yous,
Them unhealthy tulips,
Your beloved browned dead,
Give me your milky filth,
Your sudden kaputs,
Your false starts,
Your vanquished chimera,
Your loose tooth,
Your sebaceous belly fat
Your sordid secrets,
Your fake orgasms,
Your bad kidneys,
Yesterday’s beans,
Your dirty daughters,
Your incestual sons.
Give me, I beg, your mighty worst.
Crown me: Man.

Let me be history. History.
What fine mystery.
Let me be like I never was,
Petrichor, no rain,
Baby shoes, no baby,
Paragraphs, no misery,
Nostalgia, no whiskey,
Hope, no antidote.
Let me be.
Now, ain’t that a good boy?

Image credit: Destruction (1900) by Carlos Schwabe (July 21, 1866 – 22 January 1926), Swiss Symbolist painter and printmaker


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