Anything I’ve been is this: my aspects answering with the hours that I’ve kept, with the way my mouth shapes the familiar as if I’ve never touched it and I haven’t, the light emptying itself out to fill the space between what’s voice and what’s affect. The rush I won’t remember burns down into the liminal, my pupils reaching for their inner surface. The comedown is everything. It’s the stop implied by motion, by what I’ve held close, as delicate as my bones have been, those thin things, fragile enough to stay unbroken in the after that’s more dear than now, a second-hand to mark when the first is long since gone. There’s salt here like faith was, air that pauses at the corners of my lungs. In this, anything I’ve been becomes a means of translating the blood back into itself, salvation without the junksickness. What’s taken and what’s given stop listening, equivalence hanging itself just to find the difference and I’ve been singing for the silver and the tidal things that sank further than I did when I was present, when there was room for the sound and the promise but not the air, never that. Any sharper and I’d mean it. I’ve got conflagration and five minutes. Meaning pretends like I do, the coil and the press that says this is wonder and not a way out, an exit on the tongue I’ve slit to speak like I was made to because the inhale isn’t coming and the pause is another gift that I’m not giving and if it’s implied it’s a fall just like the first one but I could have meant it, my accidentals only underscored by my intent because the means of this meaningless. I’ve got just enough to choke to death, just enough to say that and keep this cordial, my hagiography edited for a holier audience. Thirteen seconds into collapse and I’m white-lined and furious, I’m the same thing I’ve been or less, I’m a boys’ choir without the excuses, years deeper than strictly necessary because the cross perfects and I demand, I want and heaven inflicts the language that I have until my spit tastes like violence, until I begin again.
It cuts close because the agony isn’t measured in the passage but the permanence. It’s holy because it’s always and because it’s always I’ve lost. Another flower, she says again, and I echo until I echo, until I sing in oil and in blood. It’s a prayer and it’s the weight of this, the press and the cyclic and take this, all of you, over and over until these lightless hours spill into everything I touch, singing all of this beneath the voiceless, she and I and nothing else. I have just enough divinity to demand the whole of it, the shudder and the impact that comes before the judgement and if I ascend it’s because I’ve found the sounds that answer us, that cry out for something unrecognizable and sacred, something as beautiful as I was, once, the blood between us wondrous and unknown, our bones humming with all the absence that was kept for us.
The Garden burns and I won’t speak, I won’t.
The reflection keeps me faceless and it’s a gift, familiar in the way that never gives up the momentary, that keeps this still, a demand for suffocation in every aspect and so I stop breathing before you read this, just like the always that’s been beneath us, as if the motion was going sing salvation, some redemptive act in the distance that’s been with me like everything else is, eventually, something cyclic for the way you hear and the way you listen when there’s blood enough to make this worth it, the postage paid in dead letters, still, our means to an ending, to an exit, some slow death for what we’ve witnessed, softer than the words make space for, the one and one that make the pattern easier to address than what’s said with it because you see just long enough to look away again, to burn the aspects into scripture because what follows is sacred and so what started this must be perfect, some edenic promise that’s more unrecognizable than where I’m going and I ask you if I spoke because I can’t hear myself until you play it back the way I meant it, the echo that I’ve been waiting for through all of this and it’s been years and if there’s absence it’s only fair to all the emptiness, the balance that’s cost us, that we’ve paid for with the way we mean for this to hurt us, every second past eleven a reminder that the day and the hour is ours like nothing else is, like it was, world without end, we said, except.
I’m starting on the final draw, abandoning the present tense for something closer, something vicious, something that matches what’s been beneath this since the last time this was ending, when I stopped. I haven’t forgotten. The withdrawal is conditional just like breathing was. I have the pattern but not the rhythm of it, so the words become a gesture towards a judgement that’s lost all meaning outside these contexts, sacred scripture in ellipses, in ritual that’s indistinguishable from bleeding out. This will be as pious as it needs to be, I promise. I haven’t spoken but I’ve sung, and the difference is immaterial but for the cost, the sounds I’ve made as unforgiving as the quiet that’s been with me, that answers before anything else. There’s no introduction left to make because I’m gone. An assumption into heaven that didn’t get me very far. I crushed the serpent beneath my heel for the comfort, a little adversarial back-and-forth, one that’s let you come as close as you have and still not realize how much. The risk inherent in all of it, in having to hear that you didn’t mean it, folds itself into the dialect, in how gracious I can be when I need to live through this. I’ve been gentle because the alternative isn’t. You’ll never have to beg for courtesy, you’ll never have to give it. I have the threat until I make it. It’s power that exists like I do, a hypothetical that’s worshipped, that’s almost, that isn’t. This is fragile and wondrous and if there’s death here it’s because we offered it, a sacrifice with bloody mouths, with all our hours, with the shuddering that was always with us. The language here is not enough and even still I’m speaking it, the words destroying our strange armistice, each one an act of war that goes unwitnessed. This has always been what I’ve demanded, the distance just beneath the surface, my salvation understated. I’m going to keep this close. I have horizons, now. I want you to know. I want you look but not touch.
This is the last of the oxygen we’d recognize if we could pass for living things for once. There’s asphalt and there’s not much else. The road holds close to the memories we had before we abandoned all of this for something worth it, for the backseat and the white and the way we’d stay heartless because we never were more perfect than when we’d had too much, when we went translucent, our lady of want. Prayer thins us. Our veins are brighter, now, iron moving at the speed of skin. Something holy grows out of our mouth and into a sky that fits itself around us, that finds our edges and the streetlights and the promise that there’s still a rush in us, the spark that I had and you lost. I know what’s mine. I know what makes this ferocious, all the heresies I’ve sung out of the spit and the salt that were left to me in the half-past that could have made it in the after, in the almost, in the wreckage that let me pass for a living thing or close enough, in the singular, in holiness.
If I’m close enough I can hear the coil and the hum, the exhale and the metal both. I don’t separate, I just unfold. The weight of this stays with me even after you let go. I’ve got the rush but not the echo, not anymore. There’s nothing here that would pass for self. There’s no holiness that wasn’t bought, there’s no altar but this mouthless fount, this sickness that’s the only source. This was a garden, once. This devours and I know how much. I know the want that shapes what you call worship, I know the shudder and the desperates, I know the way you’ll hesitate before you don’t. I know you want you to mean anything but what it does, I know you want some exception to the accusation that will let you get through this untouched. I know and it doesn’t matter because there’s no translation that will save this, there’s no way out but down. Descent remembers what we won’t. There’s a song in this, something voiceless and unwitnessed, something for the years that I had nothing and now it’s all of it, now is always after, now is always, wasn’t it. I’m caught up by the sound that this will make when I’m alone with it, the pause of what’s withheld, when you hear this, but you don’t.
She’s with me, the blood between us holy, the blood between us singing in the voice that I carved out. My throat opens at the softest touch. The words don’t make it just like I don’t. I keep the sounds beneath the surface and pretend that it’s enough to dream of suffocation when she knows exactly what I want. I stay nameless because my pseudonyms reveal too much. The pulse slows and I’m close, I’m almost, I’m still enough to play at beauty and never ever breathe out. I’m a perfect saint and a better martyr, I tear apart the distance that kept us heavensent and silent, our ashes still in front of us. I don’t remember but I know each moment, the rush and the violence that collapses on a frequency that promises what we lost when the angels breathed in time with us, when the metal reminds me of what I was. Another flower. Another corpse.
I dream until the Garden drowns.
This is an aftermath. This is the corpse I’ve been, underpinned and breathless, weighted for the measurements that drown now and not yet in the same instant, killed again and again as a feast for the faithless. I bequeath without having consented. Every gift is taken, wanted because it’s been withheld, its only value dissolving the second it touches the flesh, the mystery of destroying what was never yours to begin with. My spit tastes like violence, I said. I know what I meant. Words and dialect that span all the hours of my death and even still the substance is meaningless outside of what it means if you can touch the aspects of yourself you think I dance in until I don’t, until I betray the whole of it with this oxygen contempt, with these accidents of being that could have been if you had let me, the whole of this is predicated on keeping me reflective. The silver still and polished. The silver almost as perfect as I am. I have no absolution that I’m willing to part with, so this is another confessional for the heartless, the letters unanswerable because I sent them, the quiet ruined by the silence. I speak and kill the thing I could have been if I’d been less, if I’d been content with the welcome that comes so long as I don’t enter in. Anechoic and vicious. I am a living thing, almost. I release the catch beneath my sternum, I place my fingers in the curve and pull until I’ve opened. I’m all bones and circumstance. I’ve given up the ghosts that might have heard me because I told you everything when I said that. The arc paints itself from one horizon to the next, and the frequency I hit makes impact as sharp as the edges of the world that now unfold to meet me and it’s glorious. This is a new kind of cruelty. This is the cold that I was promised when I refused what I’d been given. This is my body. I speak and leave the rest unfinished.
If this were a letter I’d write it but it’s less. There’s no answer for the words I haven’t spoken yet. There’s no answer and so I carve the language that I’ve lost to try to find a way out of this, the sickness that demands more the less I have and here we are again, me starved and you not listening, close enough to steal the air I’m breathing as another path to absence and I say I need mirror, I say it over and over until the sounds transcend their repetition into something glorious, a pattern that feels familiar because I’ve bled for it. I need paragraphs instead of fragments. I need you to recognize what I’ve said except when you do it’s only ever after I’ve lost so much from waiting that it’s never worth it, the deficit relentless and you know enough to acknowledge it but remain content to take the whole of it, to play wounded when it’s not offered, you and everyone else, all the yous that you’ve been, that you will be, after you grant yourself forgiveness for what you’ll keep with you, always. Instead I went looking for secrets that weren’t for me, I broke my own promises and confirmed what I knew well enough from the frequency and the pauses. I failed things that went deeper than the war I declared when no one was looking and this aftermath is a confessional to things I hadn’t understood but now are with me, stains of words that I’d let underpin me even as I refused them from anything that could have been nearer to me, and all I can hope is that the dialogue is worth it. I have to remember that the intimacy is artificial; it has to be, or else I’ve ruined all of this. If this were a letter it’d end. If this were anything but what it was maybe I’d make it, but you won’t ask because you haven’t, and the momentum of that will stay with you while I stay still, while I stay heartless because I had to be to echo in the first place, because the only threat I have is emptied out by making it, and so I lose.
The ink here is less a means and more a threat. It leaks, passing from carotid to pen to the letters that I’ll bleed when this is finished. This is a threat and I won’t make it. I promise. There’s no balance that will survive the shift from indivisible to wanted and even still I need an end, something to comfort the pause that’s with me, the way the dreams start when suffocation sets in, when I pull apart into translucence, each cell unfolding after the next for an autopsy that’s only coveted because it’s hidden. There’s nothing less than what’s been given. They need their desire more than they need the victim of it, and so they’ll destroy everything to keep it innocent and unexamined, an Other they can name instead. Are you there? they ask, and every silence is its own assent because I have no reflection. If you understand this it’s because you don’t look as I mirror and demure, because there’s no way out of this that isn’t edged, because you know if you witness this I won’t be long, I promise. One less. This is the simulacra I always wanted, the inhumanity that I was given and made perfect. Each photograph condemns and buys what I can’t have, each angel has their teeth in the daughters of men. I carve the flesh and call it echo. I ask and you don’t. I’ve become indistinguishable from the thing that you constructed, I play the skingame, I pray for the nameless because I move among them. The phonemes between she and I burn down to nothing. Without this I lose and that’s enough. You won’t see this. I speak your language even though there are no words for me in it. I speak and each word claws against the other, delicate, and I sing until I can’t pretend that I was supposed to live through this.
These brittle things are familiar, they’re words and bones and the kindness that runs transparent along the path of what little light still passes through this spectrum, in the arcs of heaven that keep themselves nameless because they’ve never been anything but this, horizons that demand worship, that push the ink from one chamber to the next, arterial promises that I’ve kept heartless, in the pauses that keep time, still. They measure and disintegrate in turns. They’re the space between that I’ve meant ever since. Every absence and every answer recalls this, drawn from a source that I’ve only ever tasted in the bloody aftermath that’s the best that I can hope for, the intimacy of my throat unraveling in your hands. There’s no answer and there never is. I’ve been terrified that this was everything it’s always been, the same inertia, the same shade of drowning I’ve had with me in my four am, the moment as unforgiving as I am, the hollow and the rush that’s been with me, that’s kept me still, that’s taught me silence better than anyone else has and maybe it is but it’s mine now, it’s the underneath that I’m breathing for a lack of oxygen, for a lack of faith, for a lack that I’ve made perfect. It’s the language that infects this, the flesh and the emptiness, a whole made in the image of us, a completion that devours her and leaves me junksick, a little thing speaking words meant for the last judgement. Dialect that burns up as it reaches air, suffocating for a witness, for a gentleness that was never meant for this. I count back, I swallow what was meant, I turn a card and don’t see it, a prophetess of incisions and syllables that have no weight beneath the gravity of what she’s lost to speak them to begin with.