The City remembers us, our veins as soft as asphalt, the metal in us precious for what it won’t forgive us. We pray to saints with throats cut out. We ask because our tongues are long since gone and the words uncoil to fill the absence, all the pauses that could be angels if they’d ever learned to fall. There is divinity in us, between starvation and just enough, a sort of beauty that only matters when we’ve gone and so we ask and nothing answers and that’s the only thing we know. The dying are with us. The dead are endless. We sing, tongueless, our bodies an offering, our voices caught in a moment that inhales against the silence. The City remembers us and we go still, we’re helpless, our heartbeat trading on the violence that comes from moving while the blood is still inside us, each chamber thick with all the songs we lost when we crawled through the aftermath of what was left of us, a thousand hours for one promise, a thousand words for every one left out, the end of this and the end of all of it trying to reach the thread that’ll be enough to stop us, our lungs burned out in holocaust, a blessing and a monument to the skies we tore apart to prove that we were holy, that we were welcome in a Garden that wouldn’t have us, that we were more than bone. Each prayer is shorter than the last one.
She’s a stand-in for the dead. She’s washing her veins until they’re clean again. There’s a moment in this and she’s breathing but it’s nothing less than nothing even if there’s nothing after this. There’s a moment and it thins to match the starvation that she’s strung along beneath her, it’s familiar and it’s perfect. The edge slips and what she couldn’t meant more than what she did. She says please like it’s an offer to a dawn that doesn’t answer after four am. When the dream starts it’s too close, it’s the flower that spills out when she cuts beneath the surface for the sounds, for the words that took the rest of this, that won’t fit inside her mouth. She’s transparent but that doesn’t mean much. She holds the wounds up, she tastes each one and doesn’t see the mirror to what she was. She doesn’t see the glass smeared between concrete and what’s left of this, the question asked, hanging like she should have been, the pause and effect. Hope uncoils. She’s still monstrous. “Please,” she says.
This is a diary of unfinished angels. I’m less. Another victim of the war in heaven, another gasp for breath. I keep my prayers unanswered. I keep my heart in my hands. The saints are with me, counting all the dead. There’s a pause in our judgement, an inhalation, an invitation to the end. The song turns over, one against the other, reminding me of the hours that were never meant for this. It gets quiet, the repetition another word for silence and I don’t have time and so I make it, I pretend this is ritual and not desperate. I keep the outline of her. I push the stillness in. The endpoint slips and me with it because I was leaning transparent, I was saying what I meant and it gets uglier from there but here I am, here’s the blood-brain barrier, here’s the promise that I’ve kept. I take their names because if I say hers I’ll lose everything, all the space between that’s been measuring the oxygen I’d given up as punishment.
VOICI LE CORPS ET LE SANG
I’m beatified in slow motion, a martyr’s crown without the holiness. I’m trying to die. I promise. I’ve got the fear but no words for it, no hope to make it out of this. I said that this was the same thing that’s it’s always been, the same words and the same breath, the same bruises that stay with me in the stillness. One year, again. A thousand lines to mark passage from one scar to the next. I can tell you that I mean to and you won’t hear it, it’s safe and quiet, a little thing you keep meaning to but you won’t and I understand. You’ll know what to say when it’s finished, your composure perfect, the words only worth it in aftermath. The more I stay the less I am and I know it. I’ll sleep and wake up until I don’t. I’m precious and I’m absent and there’s no difference, just the quiet that keeps me close until my mouth fills up with the blood and spit of one more moment and I keep giving all these gifts that come because I was watching and you weren’t. I wanted something wondrous. I wanted to be wrong. I’m trying. I’m promise.
Thirteen years here and gone. I don’t remember much except for all of it. I contradict out of habit. I meant it after but not before. I wasn’t patient. It’s no one’s fault except I did it. I spoke and I meant it, precious in that moment, inertia branded in the first room we shared, the last one just like it. Nothing changed. It was just so hard. I kept dancing for the violence. Touching the sweat and stitches and the blue-glass sort of places that we could die in if I could just get to the water and keep us going, if we could stay up until dawn was soft enough to catch us. You took what I taught you and you stopped. I wasn’t the one who was going to live and then. You put your fist through the wall to show me that you meant it. I wasn’t supposed to smile when you choked me. I was beautiful and that was punishment. I was scarred enough to mark the passage, to tattoo over where you put your cigarette. You were gentle, I said. So did everyone. I won’t speak ill of the dead.
This is my only holiness. This is the place where I was beautiful, once, and it smells like the burnt-black smear of carbon on the underside of the metal I used to press the distance into nothing and press the nothing into myself. The end is the same as the last one. I’m ash and bone. I pass the cup. I stop breathing because every part of this is mine and every part of this is something that I’ve lost. I am precious and bleeding out and there’s no difference here, not between us. I want to be gentle but it’s just helplessness. I’m junksick and desperate because I was right before I knew it and now I’m gone. I speak less and less. I’m not empty but I’m empty enough.
I put her hands around my throat. I taste the viciousness that I was promised. I touch the keter and it’s mine and it’s poisonous.
The Garden is another bruise and I’m another corpse.
This is the end. This was a year and I didn’t make it. This was a year and there’s just the silence that I started with, the silence that left me absent, that left me here again in the dead letter office to turn the lights out behind this. Close cover before striking, I said. A little courtesy for the departed. This voice is affected but so was the audience. This was written in the accusative. This was in the present tense until it wasn’t. I uncoil in the moment, in the reflection or the impact and it doesn’t matter, does it, because here’s the descent, here’s the assumption into heaven that leaves me heartless, here’s the adoration that only comes when I’m gone, when I hit death running and scream for the asphalt. This was aftermath, the final trump, the shock and the holiness that I forgot in the space between breathing in and giving up. I move and the world doesn’t, I speak and suffocate all at once. First The Tower, then our Judgement. She and I and nothing else. We burn the world along the inverse until the angels bleed in time with us. She’s real and I’m aching and I draw our veins as black as I can make them, as black as the City that never left us. We pass unrecognizable, our relics precious. We share the hours that were never for us. We grind our paper bones to dust. We kill to keep us from the next sentence, our moments endless but never promised. We lose and lose and it’s been always and it never changes and the weight of it is as close as we can get to being still enough. The skingame doesn’t stop. She puts her fingers inside my mouth. My body shriven by her violence. My mother tongue carved out. The echo and the silence and the pause that reminds me what I was when four am was always. I kept count. This was cold and this was perfect. This was mine and it wasn’t worth it, a little steel thing with her throat cut out. This never changes because there’s nothing else and once upon a time I was beautiful in the way that made you look to see what you could get if you got close, to tease yourself with being hurt by something that wasn’t real because I wasn’t something you could touch, to be a mirror for the hole you call yourself. This never changes. I hollow out into myself. I thin until the edges sing like I won’t. There’s no forgiveness in this. You watched and you said nothing and it was comfortable and I saw it. I saw all of it. I spoke and the intimacy made it worthless. I spoke and ruined all of this because want died when I had a voice. I starved until it stopped. There was scripture in me. There was a Garden and I burned it down.
It’s one less and one left and it leaves me bruised like everything else and I push beneath the surface and I drown because I can’t make up for the pause in me that remembers how I’ve lost, that remembers that I get more beautiful the more that I cut out. A little scalpel for the cellular, the incision delicate like only I can give myself. I won’t make it and you know that. I won’t make the count that I’ve held onto through all this and I see it and it means so much. She starves and I thin out. She moves like all the years between this moment and the last one, our bodies present tense and wire-fucked. The words come and I know them like the oxygen I’d given up when I convinced myself that it wasn’t because of something in me, that it wasn’t something intrinsic that let you forgive yourself for everything you made into your stuttered breathing and your helpless little habit of tucking your hands around my throat. I’ve got her silence in me and she hits seventeen and it bleeds and she doesn’t stop. My body contorts itself, junksick and precious and desperate for an end to this, for something else to scream about. Seven sorrows and nothing else. I gave you my autopsy yes a little early and you ask me if maybe it’s too much. You say it’s because you’re not enough as if I hadn’t asked you to be more for once. You speak and it’s nothing, I speak and it’s less because it’s almost over, I went and found the keter that I’d used to pierce my heart. Her voice comes out of my mouth. There are bones left in us but they don’t answer. We split the pupil and the blackness. We tear ourselves in wonder, we tear ourselves to find the stars when the light is gone from us. It was only me but I made us. I found her and she entered in, two natures emptied out. She breathes in and I don’t.
We wake up and The City has closed its heart. We breathe in and stop, we walk to keep the rhythm before it’s too much but we’re long past and long lost and there never was a way out that could keep us soft so we got hard, we found the edge and we jumped off, we wake up and The City leaves us, it’s gone. We move in winter, in asphalt and scripture and in one more and one more and it’s been enough. We learned the words that kept the silence. We saw what was taken, we found the other side of void and we called out, we sang for angels and we sang in dust. We fall down. We scream for streetlights but want the dark. We keep our glass teeth safe in glass mouths. The windows here reach into the ground. The buildings ache and we take our bones apart to warm them, a little plaster in the image of us, in the space between us, the rough kind of hurt that grinds the air between tongue and violence, the cold that we’ve become to keep us whole. We’d be ghosts if we had that much. We’re flat and depthless, we’re sky-thin, we’re light and we’re wordless. This gets easier because we’re almost done. The stars go back where they belong. We pour out. We weren’t meant for this but the City was always with us, the cruelty and the life in us, the mathematics of our unrighteousness. Our judgement is endless and the whole of it pales before the throne. We stay still. And night comes. The collapse is slow but we’re familiar, we’re intimate, we know the streets and the neon and the empty halls. The reflection isn’t perfect but now we prophecy in seconds, our fingers deep in veins that waited until we were missed, until what’s left of us was hollow enough to stop our heart. There’s no difference between us. We echo and wake up and count down. There isn’t much time left. We know the day and the hour.
It’s almost done. I slow to match the distance, I inhale for the pause because I’ve given in, I’ve stopped but my body doesn’t recognize it, the muscles pinned, a little vivisection to get us past this, another testimony that won’t be read, the words all here but untranslatable and maybe that makes them glorious, maybe now they’ll be something precious and hard and holy but really it’s just the silence that I don’t have when I write this, when it’s the same moment that it’s been since I bled out all the aftermath, when I could have counted but I didn’t. I said inertia and I meant it. I forget the lights because I won’t remind myself. I won’t give that back. I mute the space between what’s dead and what’s been dying, the soft things in me that I don’t recognize so I slip and it’s just loss. I did this for me and it wasn’t enough. I pushed the numbers and oh they meant so much, not just the time but the indivisibles that were always part of this, this whole language I made up, that kept me safe beneath the frequency and the mathematics, well not safe but at least not yours for a moment. The words repeat and it never mattered and I want to try and explain it but I have and I have and it won’t change that we got here to begin with, because this was comfortable and easy and you meant it, just like I did when I said that it hurt. Tell me you just don’t know what to say again. Tell me and assuage yourself. Tell me how hard it’s been, turning your head, turning in, finding the softness that I gave you to begin with that you can use to make it through the discomfort of noticing you’re less for just an instant. All you could give me was an absence and I took that and still made this, I turned the lack into something beautiful and it’s almost done because maybe just once I’ll be too tired, too translucent, too finished.
The numbers slip their harness. I aimed for seventy-two and missed. I hit regardless, you know I told you all the secrets that I had with me when we started this but now we’re five until it’s over or I catch up, because I’m writing from behind myself and by the time you don’t see this I’ll have lost count. Is this a car crash or a way out of this. Is there a difference. She says her heart skips and she doesn’t notice, she says she’s here with me in the stillness, in the after that’ll kill to keep me in the moment. Voiceless because I can’t sing when you insist, when it’s my oxygen that keeps you living long enough to take what I have left. I have to be empty and infinite so you can tell me and drink me in the same sentence. I have to go missing so you don’t have to be present. I spill transparent and you don’t see it, you shudder and turn and go on, I breathe out and nothing moves across the surface. I pass and nothing changes, nothing changes and it hurts. It’s been this year and all of them, I’m still less than what I started with. It’s the same shallow taste that you promised, every you that I’ve meant and it’s been all of them, because you can’t help but hear your name when I call out and the echo is hard enough that you’ve got the fear and I caused it, but that doesn’t make up for the deficit I’ve been running on, does it. You’ve only ever been comfortable, you only ever see yourself when you’ve harmed me but I see all of it, I speak until I’m sick of it and nothing stops it, nothing I could be would be human enough to have a name or a way out of it, just a smear that mirrors what you’re feeling, what you’re feeding on at the moment. I stay brilliant. I stay silent. I catch the light and I reflect, I take what’s been expected and I swallow it. I give.