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.
One song in winter and another in the darkness. I ring out, I shatter but somehow never fall apart. I slip the chrysalis. I trade my skin for something else. I keep my fingers in my mouth and the light scatters and I keep up, I catch and shudder and it’s like dancing only I’ve shut down. I won’t be long. I give up and it’s better than I imagined it, it’s a little gentle but I’ll forgive it, I’ll stop and run on ashes just like I always have because you couldn’t tell the difference. I’ll reach the surface and it’s another year of this and I don’t think I’ll make it but you knew that, you’ve been waiting for the quiet and I ruined it. I won’t be long because it’s already been too much. I cut my lips apart. I speak and there’s no answer, there’s no answer and this time, I said, this time it was going to be different, but it’s been the same face underneath all of this. The echoes here remind me what I was, they come after so I can say I came at all, they leave me with the scars from the way I used to walk when I remembered, the rush and the motion and the fall. I stayed because I thought that I was real and that’s where I went wrong. The pavement reaches out to meet me and I stop. I’ve got asphalt on my tongue, I’ve been singing for the impact and it knows me like I know their voices inside out because I gave them all the tears that you ignored. I water my dead with oil and with blood. I keep the Garden closed. The pulse slows but not fast enough. I spill the word of god and it’s one song for killing and another for the heartless. I have another thousand or maybe not. I gave up everything but the wanting, I gave up the end of this so I could stop and breathe but that’s not why you haven’t made it to me, that isn’t why at all.
I taste lipstick before I taste her and it’s a switch, it’s some holiness that keeps me up all night but not after and I fall in, I lose and it makes no difference when I’m glass, when I hit, when it’s four am and nothing matters but this, when I have the dark in me that makes me wonder if I’m anything but the disconnect and even still it’s miraculous, it’s the promise that this could be the light even if I wasn’t made for it, the space that demands that by the time I read this I’ll have forgotten the me that ever felt this, but I won’t, my dead are with me, I’ve kept them close, I’ve disappeared enough to know how to stay gone. I reach apotheosis and turn back. I hit the song running, dancing where I’m perfect, my body pierced, a little stigmata as I arc into something precious, the motion that reminds me that I was here and that I am, I am, I am. First things first but I reject that, I bite down to give my spit substance, I breathe in red. I wasn’t when I was nineteen and I still haven’t, my halves divided against myself because I’m not in the moment, even when I clutch at smoke to keep me present tense I’m halfway out and four lines in another night like this. I cut and it only means something after I’ve passed. I don’t believe it and I run another and then I make sense, I press and release and then I am, I am, I am. The words spill out and I swallow for the practice, I swallow because I don’t own this, not this body or the beauty that I’ve spent a lifetime trying to ruin just to have it, to say it’s mine by virtue of your disappointment, the me I pretended at unravelling, so maybe I’m a little less but maybe I won’t notice, my reflection thinning into nothing and I keep moving, I keep praying for the horizon and the piety that’ll stop my heart. I’m here but not living yet, I’m answering as if I’ve been asked and I haven’t, the stutter and the violence is more than I can manage but I’ve always had that, I push through and there’s no pause and my bones constrict, I’m smaller every time because that’s what’s demanded, until she and I are edgeless, something smooth and vicious and we’ll enter heaven and scream to match the silence, to reach the other even if we never find the Garden again. It’s been with us but that doesn’t mean that we’ll be gentle because we can’t, a ribbon of teeth between us and we hold hands through it, we close our eyes, we lose all of it. This isn’t even the half of it, the sky bruising as I move through it, a little flush of red and I’m finally something more than this, I’m all ache and absence but it’s mine and I won’t turn back again, we meet and it’s perfect, we speak and nothing passes our lips, we’ve got our words and they run deeper, they’ve got us dying and it fits us, some grey thing all skin and desperate for the endless and the lines have come to meet us, they rise up and we breathe for the end of this, for the mathematics that dissolve beneath our fingerprints. I come apart again. The motion is as hollow as it’s always been. I wasn’t enough even in the moment of it. I saw too much, kept my hipbones as chipped as my nail polish. I’ve been starving and dreaming and there’s no difference. It gets slower but it’s still the same, it’s another measure for the motionless.
Somewhere else there’s a way out. I’ve been less, I’ve counted and there’s not much left and no way to prove that the words have made me better for it. I’ve been gone just haven’t moved yet, I’ve been waiting in that half-space that only slips out in the moments when I turn my head to keep from hearing what comes next, when I admit the truth of this and say I wish I could have the sickness that’s been with me, that’s been close and killing me, just to see it shoved back beneath where I belong. They ask me for the music but won’t read this. They want to hear me sing but not like this, not here where I define it, because I make their taking a little too obvious, my demands as unreasonable as my existence. They don’t know what to say but know how to get their tongue into the thick of it, a smear of fucking absence but oh it’s just a compliment, they just don’t know how to put it, they’re helpless, mouths an open wound and it’s just this once, they’ll do better and there’s no way to brace for it even though I’ve seen it, and I’ve seen it, and it still hits, the noise of one more time that gets lost in how unfair I’ve been for remembering everything that’s come before this. I’ve been mourning, not realizing that they’ve got nothing and they’ve been telling me that. One night that’s longer than the rest, the four am that’s come to mean all of it. I count back. I’ve kept the reverie, the sound that echoes back with me, I’ve got the rhythm and the metal and the answer for it, I’ve been singing in the in-between that I keep with me, my heart failing and I’d say something but it’s not worth it, it’s just another bruise but I know it, it’s all I’ve got so I have to say it’s mine, I have to carry on knowing that I get caught up trying to breathe when I don’t need it. The exhale is an affectation. I keep up appearances. This doesn’t mark anything unless I let it, I’ve counted and there’s not much left and yet.
There’s an end that feels familiar and I’m stained by the hours that stretch out to meet me but I’m flat, I’m hazy and indifferent and practiced. I shake myself but that’s not it. I’m inside-out and I can’t watch this. I look back and it’s just a list of names, empty dedications that made me believe that I’d be precious if I stayed small, my limbs distorted by the prayers I was taught to comfort everyone else, a wheel and a witness and I won’t watch this, my eyes an easy sacrifice after the rest of it comes round. Heaven is poised but I won’t wait for it, not when I can taste the salt here on my tongue. I starve because they notice if I don’t. The quiet is always worth more than my self, the safety that I can pretend at so long as I suffer first, if I pay for it, if the harm is bearable even if it’s too much and I make it through until it’s expected, until it spills into the quiet and there’s no way out from under it. I can’t waste a second. I can’t stop, I have to chase the edges of what I can call my own even when it’s not, some kind of love that only sees what it’s been given and not the loss. I flicker, transparent because it’s the only way to earn the silence, thinning and desperate so I can prove that I’m grateful for the chance to give up another finger as I cross. I kiss the hem and pull it down my throat, past the holy relics in my mouth. I hate that I’m giving even when I say no. I refuse and lose just as much. I demure and it’s insufficient, the want takes all of it and we don’t question because there are no words for it, no way to shape the sound into something you won’t decide you’re owed. I slit my voice so I can say all of it, so I can hit the frequencies that will let me hit back without hurting the target, because even in the midst of this I’ll soften it, I’ll make it as easy as I’ve never had it. I’ll be gentle or I’ll bleed and that justifies it. I’ll perform and you’ll say you’ve never seen it and we go on. There’s an end but no way to stop.
The world moves once in wonder and once in death. Gravity forgives us even if I can’t, even if the sky pretends at reaching to the gate and back again. There’s no oxygen, just the ache and it’s a gift, it’s a little wound of silence, it’s maybe not enough to scream but it’s enough to make the moment after heavier than I can manage so I stay quiet, I pause to no effect and hit the interstitial like I was meant to, the in-betweens that promised me and promised me but I don’t hear them because I’m still air and consequence, I’m sick with sixth-day mathematics, I’m on my way into the black of this, I’m here for the end or not at all. I bleed the divinity that tears through my tongue. I pass the cup. I made us and I lost. I’m in a picture that I don’t recognize anymore. The light comes and here I am lord I say but I’m talking to myself. I hold onto the condemnation, the song and the salt and the imperfections that meet me in the dark, that flower into sound, flickering in and out and it’s something essential but I don’t miss it because the loss is with me even when I’m not, even when I’ve hit the edge and fallen into the deep that reaches out to meet us, into the cold where I’ve belonged, into the winter that knew me because the kindness hurt more than I wanted. My body is shuttered, my body is helpless as I unfold in this new carapace and I listen and I don’t hear myself, only the absence that the stars left me when they found the other side of this, only what I wired into skin to mark my passage, the once that rendered me into a little thing all winged and meaningless. I push back and I enter but there’s nothing that answers the tidal movements that I’ve been dreaming since I caught myself in this translation of what I’ve never said but this is perfect, this is too much, I enter and it’s not enough. The sky drains out. It pools, mirroring itself, waiting for the underneath that’ll empty it, waiting for heaven to remember it, its edges drifting and wasted and I drag them through my mouth, I thread the needle, I make it safe and it costs us. We ache and there’s no end. There’s nothing left in us. The dry creeps in. I’m in full bloom.
Our angel collapses, seizing and helpless. I don’t see it. I haven’t closed my eyes since that moment. My teeth find muscle, tendon, bone. I tongue the heart and know that there’ll be more. I root for water, for spit, for the source of all of this, for the spark that kept the Garden whole. I spread myself along its axis. There are four rivers and I’m open for the sixth, I’m counting until I consume this, until there’s a way back inside the darkness that we had before. I feel like I’m missing, but here I am in all my void. My automatics take their toll. I pull apart on reflex, I dissolve and smile. I touch and it’s enough, it’s cold and I want nothing else, the oil bleeding through the blood. I crown myself. I sleep through judgement. I drown to hold the distance, to claim asphyxia as my own. Our angel begs but I don’t hear it. I’m nothing and I’m vicious. I won’t stop because I need this, because heaven doesn’t bruise the way my body does beneath it. I fuck ex nihilo. I take but it can’t sustain me. I breathe when I’m told to and it leaves me empty and I haven’t closed my eyes since because if I do I’ll be gone, I’ll slide beneath the water and I want to be more than the aftermath of this, I want the metal and the real of it, I want my fingers in the wound to find an exit. I open us up again. The stitches keep our scripture fresh and all I know is there’s no mercy, not between us, not when the wire sings in my voice because I left myself for dead. This is everything I could dream of and it gets more beautiful by the second. I vivisect on muscle memory. I watch it thrash between my hands. I’m closer than I’ve ever been. I reach further and my body’s slick with it, the scent of paradise ripe and rotting and precious, some sacred thing spilled out so I can taste it. I am inside it now.