To __________

Andy Stallings

You step outside & collapse
you're practicing the art of recklessness

hardly eating sleeping less

you don't need a theory to transfix you with vision
clairvoyance can't distract you from radical breath

on Fridays in whimsical costume you attend
every funeral in the city & from each
you text me a picture of yourself with the corpse

it's as though grief were a kind of theatre (it is)
& these weird transmissions
broadcast from the cavity of your skull
an image of the future
unfurling from the fertile core of the world
which seems for now to be located
in your body

it's been years since the alphabet
felt like a set of magic ciphers
since ritual made my body a wound
& so on this axis I place
a series of thresholds
a scythe & a threshing floor
a deck of cards a cache of salt
the city's oscillating edge
a horizon an open vein
a superhighway aimed at the ultra-deep field
& you – seed & extent
deafening spiral

now why would I ever leave you alone?

given this shimmering
adequacy of touch

given this gush &
the velocity of its rinse

but if burial by light is what's
coming now (it is)
wouldn't you rather undress?

wouldn't you rather hold your breath too long
to know what that's like & hear
in pain's quiet passage into the body
something (a column a
dark projecting beam)
splinter from this immensity of light?

into my own nightmare
into your roving ceremonial fire
I've introduced
that thread I carry (my death)
between my teeth
that thread the cause of the grimace
I swallow in a downpour hauling
my ancestry past the ridiculous piles
of the fruit vendor & the coconut slicer's
elegant water while the purse hawkers
scramble for cover under the bridge
& you laugh without delicacy

that thread I carry (my fertility)
between two fingers
while I lift my fork
to introduce into my body
fig gnocchi prosciutto burrata
while I plunge my mouth
enthusiastically into
your vagina
you have woven it
into a pillowcase embroidered
with bulls & goats walking
in an autumn thunderstorm
& I don't even care
I wasn't born to unravel needlework

that thread I carry (my protostar)
between eye & eye
just the thought of hydrostatic
equilibrium makes my elbows revolt
my throat my larynx & coccyx
& lower intestine
(but forward forward)
my knees of all things
& my arches
(but how will I stand?)
all separates
nothing convenes
I've grown through all your spirals
I've centered your rings
& this must be it
this must be the
instant of
main sequence

Andy Stallings lives in New Orleans with Melissa Dickey and their three children. His first book, To the Heart of the World, will be out in the fall with Rescue Press.