A Grimoire Ajar
A candle is lit,
Pink flesh melting smooth at first,
But as its silk ribbons
Cascade from its frozen bluffs,
It withers as its wick slowly
Bores deep into its heart.
It’s made of a wax that floods
The cracks in the earth
Deep within me, like hindmilk,
Where my soul first took root.
Its viscosity flowed as wasteful as time,
Until a mold hidden
In a stranger’s smile
Brought about a sleepless night
Blanketed in Schubert’s
Die liebe Farbe on loop.
Its molten core began to harden
As she took me in her arms
And made me a shelter
With the scent of her soft palate,
The vapor condensing on her chest—
Balmy on my stubbled chin,
Her upper lip fevered
Red at an ember’s pace—
Tasting of coconut water,
Dulce de leche and blood-saliva.
There were many moons waxing that night
In alien worlds deprived of oxygen
As in the space between our tongues—
Orbiting in harmony—
But the moon hiding bright
Behind the cypresses
Would remain forever nameless
As the gasps for air
She stole from me.
Mein Schatz hat's Grün so gern
Haloed over our consumed bodies
As in the cartoons whenever
A bludgeoned fool lay flat, overtaken
By a force greater than himself.
You nestled into the soft thicket
Between my armpit and chest—
A crater that gleamed in your absence.
But even as you palmed the gritty cold linoleum
Off your brindled-leather motorcycle boots,
The mold had closed,
The wax had set:
Blow out the candle,
Breathe in the ashen smoke.
You are designer, yes?
The Russian mover mumbled
After I instructed him and his colleague
On where to place the skinny, espresso bookcase.
It was his way of relating to me
With the infinitesimal amount of English
He could muster without having
To ask me for reassurance.
His compliment was tinged
With the obligatory emasculation
That accompanies any conversation
Amongst heterosexual men—
A disclosure that no hint
Of vulnerability or kindness
Will accidentally break out
Under any circumstance.
A je ne sais quoi untaught
To all humans born with a penis
From a young age in order
To someday be allowed to claim
Their manhood as if it were
A washer and dryer set
On 18-year layaway,
As when my brother-in-law
Neared his boy’s
One-year-old face to mine
Not for me to kiss,
But for us to playfully head-butt.
I found the mover’s
Earnest attempt at emasculating
And insinuating a latent homosexuality in me
More endearing than offensive—
Sweeter than when I learned
To masturbate in 5th grade—
For being as honest as his tired
Muscles and mandibles would allow him.
The need of all self-respecting men
To detect and correct in one another
Any deficiency in testosterone,
By hazing those not man enough
To move their own homes,
Seeking the armpit stench
And hairy butt-cracks of real men
Hired to fulfill their spousal responsibilities,
Satiating all of their ladies’ needs—
From the bedroom to the kitchen,
Bathroom and living room—
Of moving every back-breaking, unread book
They never have the heart to donate.
The only thing I flung over my shoulder—
Past my new apartment threshold
And the movers’ scrotum-shriveling stares—
Was the case meant to carry
The tennis racket my wife swung
Backhanded in high school—
Sharp and swift like a sword—
As if her maiden name rhymed
With Sharapova or Kournikova.
Now we use it to keep the dust
Off the leftover rolls of Christmas wrapping paper
We’ll never deplete because I picked them out,
And she wouldn’t want the people
Receiving our gifts thinking that we had bad taste.
The metal window box of succulents
I bought for her on Valentine’s Day
Hung defeated like a bronze medal
On the white balcony railing,
Dying in their own soil.
All this unearthing and change and perspiration
So that I could see her body—
Filled with veggie pad thai and our unborn son—
Comfortable, wearing nothing but the lingerie
Of shadows intermingled
With the afternoon light daggering through the blinds,
As she fell asleep—
Unfazed by the coarseness of our naked mattress—
While I gently ripped the pillows and comforter free
From the trash bags we used
Because we ran out of boxes.