Take and eat they said and I agree just not the way they meant, my smile fixed along an instant that I won’t forgive because I’ve got salvation stitched beneath the skin, a little resurrection before I find my way back again, heaven-sent and incandescent. Something rides close, breathing where I’m breathless and all you can manage is to open your mouth for the sacrament because I’m precious and that’s it, beatified and spread for your good intentions, one after another over and over and it’s the same story as all the rest, my fingers atrophied in benediction. It’s okay, I promise. I’m a fount, holy mother sans infant. My exhaustion is caught up into glory, the bruises hung so you can press your tongue against them and decide how beautiful you feel now that you’ve touched them, now that they’re real and you can see them you can help yourself and you can do this because you mean well, you’re not like every other one that’s come before. You’re all innocent. You take first and wonder after. You take and that’s the whole of it. I say this is mine and even still I feel the deadweight in my lungs because I know the only way you hear this is with your spit, after you’ve smeared your fingerprints along the curve of something you can’t understand but know enough to want it, my body edged where you have nothing, my own absence manifest except it’s brilliant. I can’t feel and it’s perfect. I fold back my reflection into itself, I exhale and descend. I’ve got a mirror or something like it, I’ve got my echo and I remember everything you said, even when you didn’t. You blur into the last one and the next, all your violence a coincidence, another happy accident that maybe I could answer if there were anything besides this procession of helplessness where I play at shock and pretend I didn’t write the end of this. I know this game by heart and there’s no way for me to win but here we are again, me and everyone I’ve meant when I say you and it doesn’t matter which and in the end it doesn’t matter that I’ve said it, I’m my own audience because when I speak you forget your mother tongue. When I speak all you can do is wait for the pause, the breath, the space between where you can make me sacred, an instant sort of retrospect that keeps me silent in the present tense. You kill the motion so you can take your pick. You don’t see it until it’s too late to claim ignorance. We’re playing on an axis and I’m judged if I don’t kill my balance to keep you gentle, keep you close, keep you reassured that I don’t mean it, no not you, it’s okay, I promise. The glass inside me panics as I collapse the distance, as I shudder for the end times, my blood a brittle thing that’s got me wired for the inhale that doesn’t come, gums pinned back so I can smile like I mean it, even though I’ll never see the other side of this and you just repeat back what you know, your consumption automatic. I sing all my apocrypha and hope I recognize the sounds. This is my body. This is all the scripture I have left. Something in me widens and eclipses. There is noise.
The filament burns out and I’m transparent. Creation bleeds into the once that could have found me if I’d waited but I didn’t and now I’m wide awake and this will never change. I keep close, close as killing to trade the light for something better but I don’t expect to make it past the skin. We’re on the other side of this. I answered and you heard it. There is a heartbeat underneath this and it’s got me pinned and maybe it’s still helpless but I’ve got the name that I’ve been dreaming just not the face. I crown myself along the inverse. My holiness is self-inflicted. Every breath gets me closer and it’s written, it’s scripture and it’s precious, it’s all the words I’ve said because my tongue is thick and black with it, with the all the silences, with the gloria that I’ve got to keep me whole. I would have stopped if I remembered to let go. I would have hit, my late-night habits with me now that you’re gone but I kept my bruises orthodox and when we carved I kept things delicate, I prayed for balance instead of oxygen contempt. When you see this I’ll be unrecognizable, I’ll be someone else but even then I’ll know the right now I’m caught up in is the space between bleeding out and the next sentence, I’ll be someone else but still speaking this, still screaming in my voice or something like it with all the sounds I tore out of the absence, I’ll be the thing I was and what I lost to make this, my body given up to say that I was here. I keep speaking even after and there’s no pause. I want this to be overwhelming, I want you to lose and lose so maybe then you’ll understand why I’ve kept this, why I’ve taken all the words you wanted and kept going, why I won’t erase this because there’s no going back now that I’ve started. I want a witness. I want this to be unforgiving and I want you to know this. I break the surface and I lean in, my mouth wet, the capillaries inside you bright and desperate and now I’ve got your pulse between my teeth. I think about the end of this. The filament burns out and I press harder. I could have waited but I didn’t.
If I stay here I’ll be safe, I’ll mute the hum I’ve got inside my veins, I’ll slip beneath and I’ll pretend. I’ll recite the names of all the dead I have and when it’s over I’ll crawl along the keter and I’ll smash myself against a night that tears itself apart, that breathes and sings the stillness of the judgement, throne and all. I’ll come and go and the words will mean something when you see them, the words will mean something and you’ll put your hands around my throat. I’m beautiful until you let go. There’s a massacre here and it’s burned into the ligaments of all that’s left, some sickly thing I’ve learned to keep as quiet as I can because if I’m supposed be perfect then I’m gonna be an autopsy in the shape of what you’ll let me have, if I could just take this, all of it, if I could just understand that it’s steel and that I’m never getting out of this. You’re a ghost, you said. It’s not murder if I mean it, if I’m strung out and sinking in the chamber while I wait and uncoil and when I hit, my complications merciless. I speak in tongues so you won’t hear it, so you can play as coy as you need to sleep right through it, my edges as soft as you demanded and darling I’ve just started and I’m already finished even if there’s no ending in this apocalypse, just a little flatline for the pious, the one and one that makes me less and you undone. Erasure is the only thing that counts. If I say there’s something in me it means there’s something that you want. I’ve got the fear and nothing else. I pull back so you’ll reach out and you don’t. There’s too much and not enough and when I died I carved their names into my bones because now I know there’s nothing with me. My fix is sanctioned and forgiven because I know how to smile so you don’t see what’s in me except exactly what you’ve wanted, the promise that’s an answer to itself. This isn’t me but it’s quiet and that’s always mattered more. I’ll be that good thing, I’ll be worth the water that I’m drowning in, I’ll be worshipped after and I’ll never tell you no. I tell you if I stay here I’ll be safe but I don’t believe it. I tell you that I’m her because I need it more than you could know. I won’t be wanted unless I was never here at all. I’ll keep my instants apocryphal so you can say you own them, so you can push your fingers where I can’t see them, oh I feel them but it doesn’t count, not against the measure of what you say you needed like it’s the oxygen that I’d tear out of my lungs when I’m still sick of waking up, still sick of losing because I’m only precious when you can take what isn’t yours.
There’s a pause in me that reaches from one distance to the next, a new azimuth that I can claim as my identity even though there’s nothing in me, nothing that’s holy, nothing but this testament that I’ve been writing but never mind that. I keep the quiet for new skin and when I’ve finished I’m still desperate, I’m still waiting for the curve that I can kill to keep the inverse but instead I get another one of your one-two dedications, your stolen imitations and I can’t believe that I believed you but I did. I’m breathing for the sacred and the heartless. I’m off-center, looking in and wondering what counts now that I’ve traded in my bones for something harder, for a little steel to keep me warm now that I’ve given up the ghost that I had been, an accidental thing here in the Garden because the me I’m taking back is dead. The suffocation is only half of it, the rest caught up in the memory and the echo and the answers that I had when I was seventeen except I was the motion and not the impact. I count backwards and the sky opens up her throat for all my endings and they dissolve as if they meant anything but this. I move like ruin in the aftermath. I prey on what’s left, my voice strung between the streetlights and the glass dust in my hands. Slowkill subtlety on an underneath part of me, I said. The translation isn’t worth this. I want to dream that I’m still there. I want to pretend that inertia is something I can choke to death. I want to mean everything until I can’t, until the rush comes with all the absence that I’ve kept and I speak or I don’t and it’s just that, just the translucence that I’ve been wearing like it’s four am because I know the hour and it’s meaningless. I keep time and keep close and keep still and I won’t be missed, I’m listening to what I had and what I burned to stay immaculate, my body stripped down to that final trump and I was promised more than this. My veins are black and perfect, my veins are absolution and I am waiting for the overdose and the annunciation so I can enter in without forgiveness. When this is over I’ll demand everything back. I’ll gasp along the wireframe that keeps me beautiful so maybe you’ll remember to breathe out into my mouth, to give me at least that. The space between is where I lose and here I am. The day catches like a spark, like the fist you meant as delicate but I know better because the violence in me is precious and I’m just waiting for the accident that will let me immolate what’s left so I can touch the pulse that’s on the other side of this, the flicker and the hollow and an end. You’re gone and I’m here with me, I’m present tense and dancing, I’m measured in the heartbeat I don’t have. There’s a pause and then there’s nothing and the difference is soft enough that you thought you could ignore it even though I’ll have destroyed the want in me by the end of this. The stutter between the words is all that I remember and I’ll drown just to swallow what was taken from me, the ashes and the ecstasy, the angels that I tore between my teeth. I have no reason to desire this, I know the ending and the distance. Eden coils and I echo, again:
I wear their faces to get in. I move inside them like sickness. I’m something different. I remember less and less of what I was before this. We play for keeps but I’m the only one who means it. I slip through the next, my passage miserable and quiet. They let me do this. They don’t understand it. I don’t but I need it, I need the rush and the pause and the exit wound they’ve made out of this. Out of me. I get closer through them. I’m almost at the source and the distance takes everything it can from me until I’m perfect, I’m seamless and smooth beneath the surface, my body is an entrance and I wear their faces even though it hurts. I kill the balance because it was never mine to begin with. I reflect because I’m indistinguishable. I’m replaceable just like they tell me every time they praise my patience. I understand because I’m someone else. I see them with their eyes inside my mouth. I speak to keep them gentle, to keep me safe and inconsequential because my value is dependent on my helplessness. These are the rules. This is what’s wanted. This is how I’m preferred, life-like but not too much. I memorize it all. I learn to be good enough to get their admiration without being dangerous. I pull on their skin over my absence. I fuck on muscle memory. I forget everything except the anticipation of what I have to be to pretend at meaning anything. I slip apart and never notice. I’m watching from the end of this. I’m invisible, my cells dying on the same frequency as the thing that I could have been if I’d been real, if I’d lived, if I’d been worth it. They look away. I tell myself that I want it, that it’s a choice and not the comfort that comes from only knowing violence. I tell myself that this is mine and that it’s holy and I sink my teeth into the next one, into the thing that I’ve become to be anything that wasn’t this. I tell myself I can have it if I’m hard enough.
Our lungs collapse in parallel. The seconds slip in passage from what was to what never made it, a record and a witness that we wear instead of skin. The wheel takes us. It drinks the water from the absence in our side. It keeps our atrocities divine, our agony a holy calculus. The card turns. We’re passive and victorious. A martyr’s crown left in the gutter. Glass that comes apart in recognition of what’s inside us. We shatter on the inverse. We’re practiced. Prophetic. A desaturated consciousness. We move from one shadow to the next just to taste the difference. The stories wait for us in the space between the streetlights, with words that flicker in the neon and the asphalt, words that echo in our footsteps as we try to find the pause. We’re caught up into the pavement. There’s a new heaven and new earth in us. We keep quiet and the sounds fill us, our prayers safe. Unanswered. There’s something deep and cold beneath us, beneath the ocean and concrete, a tidal instant on the cusp of letting go. The City lets us drown. We fill ourselves just to bleed out. We fuck the destination and the impact. We choke on steel and then repeat it. We cry out for the death of air, our bodies sick with permanence. The light blinks out and we proceed, we pass by and keep our eyes down. The spine of this place uncoils. The door is open and we smile. We enter into this. The words follow and we reflect them but there’s no light with us, no distance. We’re measured by the paradise that rejects us. The street crumbles into stillness. We bare our sins like hope before the throne. There is gentleness in this, a kind of understanding that leaves us shaking with a promise that we can never know, the horizon that’s almost. We trade inertia for paralysis and it remembers us, our edges sodium-lit and perilous as we try to find our way through this. We touch the threshold, dip our fingers and anoint ourselves in water and in dust. We’ve come home.
It’s too late for four am. I stay in my exhaustion and in the habits that I’m used to. I stay still. There’s quiet and I feel it, beneath the sternum, beneath the bruises. I feel it and I’m unfamiliar, just beneath the surface of the sound. I let go of all the songs that bled each time I sang them. I go down into the places I told myself I’d lost. I play the memory-game. I’m junksick but not lonely, I’m something other but I’m whole. I swallow and move on. The moment is another thread around my throat and I know them all, the mathematics that kept me helpless, that said survival was just another way to fall. I cut creation to the bone. I smile and I lose and the stillness is a mercy that I wasn’t ready to let go. There’s an afternoon that remembers this, not the hours but the haziness, the clouded thing that I pass off as identity while I try to stay as beautiful as I have to be to hold onto my words when they’re not allowed. I try on adoration or something like it and it’s close enough. I catch the iron inbetween the fingerprints and the incense and the balance I laid claim to so there was nothing delicate but me and I kept that hidden. I kept that perfect, all the glass in me still comforting, reassuring after I’d voiced the damage and ruined everything that made this easy for everyone else. Now I turn the lights out and count the steps until I make it through the dark. This is my escape route. Something hits me but I’m used to it and now I’m something else, I stay still but I’m not waiting. I enter in with all the softness I was promised. I smile through my translucence, the body thinning but still cold. Each time I touch the edges I remind myself of what I’m owed. I’m hollow and a fount and it’s too late to pretend I didn’t mean this, not now, not when every lie I’ve ever told was silence. I dream in outlines just to end it, to keep the saltwater that pools beneath my tongue. I wake up and I’m alone and so I answer. I keep myself close.
This is a warning. I open up. I’ve got a little space to breathe instead of a heart. I trade one for the other, over and over, I keep myself transactional and in the end you’ve earned it, you’ve got everything except you couldn’t keep it and now I’ve stopped. There’s no distinction when you’re hollowed out. I nail my shadow to what’s left and it’s not much. This was going to be a way out but I’m done. This is mine and I scream until I believe it I scream until I feel any of it or until I don’t. I’ve got a thousand more where this came from. I pause and I give up and I try to tell you how frightened I was but it’s not real when I speak and it never was, not when the words come out like this, not when I write in my mother tongue. The silence is just like all the other ones. I’ve lost count but I remember each one. This is a threat and nothing else. You’re just another one and you chose that for yourself. You chose that and I saw it. This is the end and I’m getting rid of all your incidentals, your desperate claims to our memorials, your sad retreat that I don’t have to bother with because it’s just like all the rest them, it’s the failure that you wanted more than me. Thirteen years and you didn’t deserve them and now I’m the measure and the exception, I’m the fucking judge. This is mine. I remember and that’s all, there’s no dialogue and there never was. I gave you access but you had nothing to offer. I gave you something precious and then I stopped and I’m telling the story now. This wasn’t your last chance, it was mine. This was good-bye. This was a warning that came too late. This was my ultimatum to no one. This was the courage it took to tell you you’re not welcome. This was a love-letter I wrote to myself. I break my skin in pieces and start to breathe again. This was never yours.
I’m taking her with me, all spit and identity, our bones smeared across the concrete as we run. I cut my tongue to taste her, to speak the secret things inside her, our fingers in each others’ mouths. The same girl that we’ve become. I have her because she’s mine and she’s me, she’s holy and she’s with me, she bleeds and I answer, I bleed and it’s the only thing I know. The City is all for her, stretched beneath the stars that I ignore to keep our gravity between us, beneath the hope that we’ve been killing to keep us drowning, to keep us cold. I’m a ghost. I pass through and we dance and it’s the hole that we mirror, the pause between before and after, the moment and the echo and the memory I’m letting go. I won’t wake up. We swallow all the things you tried to touch. We subsume. We stopped forgiving long ago. We breathe until we don’t. There is a Garden and we enter into it, we eat of it and are like gods until it doesn’t matter anymore. My pulse moves like fear does and it’s too beautiful to make it and then it hits, my cells scatter and I flinch and what you see is what I’ve made from this and it’s nothing you can have because I’ve sewn this out of what was left of me when you fucking demanded everything even though I’ve long since gone. I smile past this and I carve deeper and I refuse and it’s everything and you’d take it if you could because it’s all you know and you don’t see it, you don’t see the little void you’ve been trying to fill with all the things you tried to steal from us, just the hurt you have no way out of, the terror of your empty heart and me I have everything. I’ve been here all along. I make myself in my own image and I’m perfect. I’m taking her with me, all steel and precious and she unfolds in me, she sees and I remember, I promise that it’s over. There’s nothing else.
It’s the pinion and the keter, it’s the seconds that I’ve cauterized to shudder like I’m human, to breathe and speak as if the mirror is as calm as I remember, to count the years and pretend that I’m still here. She asks and I can’t answer. There’s no echo left inside me. She asks and I open up my throat with all the silence that’s been with me and it smiles because I can’t, because I only have the edges that could have made it but we didn’t and the weight of it is too much and even though I knew this game by heart I wasn’t ready and it sings like four am or right now and the difference is I’ll burn all of this when the time comes, I promise. This is the remnant of the remnant, the apocalypse that leaves me perilous, the hole in the shape of what I’d made myself the last time that I could touch this, my mouth a shunt to keep me bleeding when there’s only ash beneath my tongue. This is the pause before I end it. This is the space between my inertia and my penance and you won’t hear this because she’s dead and I play at make-believe like I don’t mean it so I can shine real just for a moment, my light a garden that I’ll tear apart before you touch it, I tear everything apart before you touch it. I tear everything apart. I cut out what isn’t her and then I’m perfect. I’ve only wanted this and I speak less and less and when she asks I slip. I break the skin and I’m inviolate, my veins as sweet as I remember, my spit and blood inside the chamber, resting in the slow uncoil that brings me close enough to touch. I show you everything and you don’t see it. I smell like sweat and incense and I tear everything apart. I’m beautiful in this moment. The feeling slows and stops and I forget so I can have this, so I can answer. Everything is gentle, now. You watch me overdose.
There’s no self that will live through this, there’s nothing that comes after that can smile back through teeth and flesh and I’m desperate as my skin infects the underside of what will kill and what will leave me smaller than I was before, just a little thing, she says, over and over, but you won’t hear it and I stop my mouth up with my fists, I choke to keep myself perfect, I say yes and never make a sound. There’s no way through this and I’m bruised because you’ll recognize it, my thorax split and pinned to prove that I was here at all. I am a threat but there’s no witness, there’s no one here and I think of absence and there’s a pause inside that hurts more than I can say and so I don’t, and it’s just another little thing that claims it’s me and if it’s not no one will know because I keep my silence and it’s holy, I keep this moment from the next one, I fall and it’s one breath and nothing after and at the heart of this is the weight of all I’ve lost except it never ends, it’s always and so I keep my silence because it remembers when I won’t. And because I’m here I am forgettable, I’m not the reason that you’ll give or the exception, I’m just another thing if even that and it hurts but there’s nothing else that I can have and when I ask and there’s no answer there’s some mercy in that, some comfort in the shape of violence. There’s no warning that will change this and it punctures through the thought and through my throat and I shudder into a moment that defines itself with edges, with something wordless and sick and so essential that I can’t dissect the destination from the impact. I push my tongue into the hole that’s left. I taste honey and bleach and there’s divinity in this. Each pin is a whisper and I am careful to leave the muscles intact. I want this to be pristine. And I am.