I move in bone and skin and nothing else; I undress in the accusative and leave you raw. I’m junksick except I mean it. The memory and the real of it. The echo that didn’t make it because I’m close enough to know that I was never here at all. I measure all your inhalations by my scars. I drown in air that dresses up as after, that paints in halos and speaks as if the present tense is anything but gone. I murder what you had of me and smile because you keep telling me I won’t do it, you swear to me that I couldn’t but my hands are just a little bloodier and hello darling here we are. I have my dead and it’s enough. I have the light until I speak but then I’m quiet and what happens after only sees what’s come before, like when you tell me that you hear me and it sounds the same as when there’s no one there at all. The stillness is deep and it’s perfect and it comforts me because it’s familiar even if it’s cold. I tongue the absence and call it good: I tell you everything and you’ll never know. I slip closer and the distance comes undone. I move in ash and holiness and nothing else and when I’m gone I’ll slip through all incorruptible, my finger bones dissolving in your mouth. Each thread of air will bleed out of my cells until I’ve thinned into a sound so heartbreaking that your throat will close around the force of it and you’ll say that I’ve become immaculate and then I will be even though I always was. You’ll make a shrine out of the remnants, the scraps and the miraculous that are covered in your spit because the only thing you have is the me you made to tell yourself I’m yours. And all of this is years ago and right now and I’m empty in the face of it because if you’d wanted this you would have and you didn’t and so hello darling now I’m gone.
I sing to hear the rain that never comes. The dead are with me and they know. The axis of this place sustains me, it is a single line from heart to hole. Memory has abandoned us and our blood is one substance, our bodies are transfigured in ecstasy and asphalt. Before this there is nothing so we dissolve our mirror image as we crown ourselves as gods. There is the city and nothing else. I am a source and there is a Garden on the mount and there is no water in us, just these shades of absence that I couldn’t have known before this moment, some nuance that kills as I move all familiar until I pretend that I’m living, I pretend that I’m still breathing, and I sing to try to find the hollow and the sun. There is a rush that answers from my throat that reminds me that my body is a prophecy and a triumph, that there are centuries in us and no forgiveness. I commit atrocity in the name that comes closest. I know what was promised by the shape of what’s been taken from us, a liturgy of hours that passes through what’s left of us, that strangles hope to give us substance. We have lost. We disentangle and I slip into a heaven that never knew that it could fall. I pull starvation closer and I know. What feels like after leaves me cold and I am here and I am speaking from the ruin left of all the prayers that were drowned, all the kindness of apocalypse, all the bones that I was left with, here at the heart of it all. Something catches in the darkness and it is with me, it is always, because the silence here is holy and I answer for the rain that never comes.
The light hums in and I breathe out and what’s left begins to drown. It’s quiet and it’s delicate, it’s the whispered edges to a story that she’s telling and I listen because she doesn’t care that I can hear her and this is as close as I’ve ever come to home. She’s singing and I’m almost real but it’s just this moment, it’s an instant and a window and then it’s gone. Every room I’ve had is this one. The wood swallows up the words I carved in it, it forgets me while I’m here, it leaves me grieving for the hours before dawn. I move and never make a sound. I know every inch of this place. All the hollows. All the absence that sits beneath my tongue. The ashes here are more than what I’ve burned. They smear and drift, sliding up on air that’s long since killed the morning to keep us soft. Each night is longer than the last one. My blood is deeper now. I push the dirt into my mouth. I am buried before I am born. I call out and my dead answer. I don’t remember. I wear their memories as my own. Everything is salt and cold and my smile can only mirror it because it’s balanced on a station of the cross. It catches on the pause in me, the pause that weighs beneath my bones and it’s too much, it’s terrifying and it’s muted and I’ve stopped breathing because there’s no way through this but down. I am waiting to see how much more. I am waiting, my heart magnetic north. The world unfolds and I close my eyes because I’ve never seen this but I still know, I still feel the heartbeat threading through the garden of what’s left of me, the hole in the shape of all the things I’ve swallowed, the emptiness that was promised and I believe in nothing else. I am not here at all. Everything stops and I’ve slipped out, thinned to a descent that feels like permanence, a little thing, nothing, without stars.
There’s no veil to pull back. I’ve been lying sick with gravity but there’s no truth to that. I push through so I can keep pretending there’s anything at the end of this. I’m playing linear and it’s death, it’s just a way to reassure you that the motion isn’t stillness, that this is passage and not the sudden stop that presses up against the things that you say mean the difference between the you that disintegrates and the second I pause for breath and then. I say everything because you won’t see any of it. I’m speaking and you won’t hear it. This is the silence that means I’m living and it’s the same one that’ll finish this, the one that’s bone deep in me, that drowns me in the heart of it. The words slip through me like something vicious, some edge of teeth and violence, some tiny bit of steel that’s left to me and I can taste it in my spit, like all the things I’ve promised, right up until the moment when everything drops out beneath us and I’m the only one who’s noticed. I have one threat and I can’t make it. Wait, you ask. This is the trump that unravels even as I play it and I’m trying to count the hours that I have left because I play for keeps even if you never see it because there’s nothing here that can balance this. I tell you that there’s no answer and I’ve been lying and I keep speaking because I say I have to because I say there’s still an echo in this but there’s nothing because you only see the picture and that’s enough. But it never was and it leaves me to mitigate my own absence. I repeat because it never ends. I answer and you don’t hear it again and again and. It’s just like it’s always been and I keep trying and it’s a sickness in the shape of comfort in the shape everything I can’t have, a record and a witness. I ignite the space between these words but there’s no air. I close my eyes but nothing fits. There’s not much meaning left.
I slip beneath new skin, I come too close and lose the words and there’s no end, no intent, no pause for breath because we’re pushing through, we say it’s only once and lie for the rush of it, for the memory that strangles us, the we that’s only one of us, a little thing and me all perilous, the mirror and then just us because I turn the card until I bleed, until I smear my black inked veins with all my desperates, the stars an exit and me I disconnect, oh at least I did, oh it was sweet and wild you said, except I couldn’t find you. I come too close, come near enough to count to where we almost touch and it’s not enough, not this time and it never was, even though I’m running cold, my edges sharp and poised and perfect because they have to be if I’m going to make it, I’ve got the sickness that keeps me strung and you a witness, my apocalypse demure and I sing because there’s nothing else, there’s no words and I tell you this, my mouth the shape of all the things I’ve murdered for the sound. When I smile it’s just like you remember it, the predatory tricks and sidelong gentleness, all the things I kept from you and still do because the only thing that I can offer is my absence, because this shadow isn’t mine it’s the aftermath, it’s the almost that left me dead and you wanting, dissolving in the light of what truth feels like in this moment, half-here and thinner every second, we count by years until it’s too much to ask of us, you definitive and me starved to death. Nothing proceeds from nothing again and here I am or somewhere like it, some holiness without substance, a silhouette and precious little else to recommend and so it goes, my voice carved into a frequency that makes heaven shudder with the divinity that’s been left to me, my body collapsing on a single point of entry and it’s the love in me that craves annihilation, the emptiness that curls under my tongue. You don’t believe me until I’m gone, when you find the words I’ve buried in the dust, when you can fit the whole of what you couldn’t have in the space between us, when you can hear everything I kept silent, when I slip beneath my new skin, trading purity for the chance to breathe.
The city is burning and we have come; our ascension is the dawn and there’s no shadow. We see because our eyes are gone, the morning star is bleeding out as we soar. We have seen the face of Golgotha and the garden, the hollow of our bones. We bruise the serpent with our heel, we cauterize the air with our touch. Our voices cry out from one throat. We abandon brick and stone and touch the source. The bruise of our passage is smoke and ashes, it is light and sound and we see it all, the dying and the throne, the last judgement a nail through our heart, the first murder a scar upon the world. Our breath is thick with incense, coils of smoke that sink into the heaven that lies below. They smell of salt and silence, of the remnant of our sacrifice, of myrrh and the pages of the book we’ve torn apart. We immolate and call it righteousness, our spirit pure, our flesh a prison that we forget the moment after. Our hands echo against the glass and we shatter, we give up life and swallow the ineffable, our blessing igniting oxygen, our name made holy and unspeakable. The horizon is a covenant, the arc that was promised us, we sing and pretend and the cycle gives us permanence. There is a zenith until there isn’t. We press our mouth against the highest and still fall. There is no light that answers us. We surrender but there’s nothing left to burn. The axis turns, our sky collapsing, the story that sunders existence into dust, the world that ends because we thought to be at all. We turn over the final card. We begin again. There is no forgiveness. There is no light in the city; it’s endless.
The city lifts up the firmament. We move upon the face of the waters, our body thinning into air, we remember and we kill and the difference screams like heaven and we answer with all the silence that we have. We are righteous because something reflects us, some mirror opposes us because there is light and then there isn’t, there is a place where we breathe and where the dead are with us, there is the city and there is nothing else. Night slips from our mouth as we divide the holy from the just, the steel in us flowering and delicate. Our descent is perfect. Something angelic infects us as the streets exhale and we’re caught up, all smoke and shattered consciousness, all translucent, all glass and violence because we’re nothing and there’s no mercy and no pulse, just a wound of air that carves into the bone and doesn’t stop, that sinks its teeth into the sky and we bleed out. Between the void and the last judgement we are one and other, a point of then and what comes after, a nail and a tower that remember a time when there were stars. The streets lead us into emptiness, they surround us, they promise us abyss and asphalt. The neon hums and shrieks and flickers out. The buildings lean and sigh and come apart, the mathematics of this place a ripple on the surface, a heart that we pierce because that’s always been the whole of it. The balance that was left to us is gone. We separate the light from the darkness. We speak and create silence. We pass into the garden and damn creation all at once. We’re one until we’re not. We remember and we kill, our edges stained with all the things we’ve lost.
The beginning is the lie we tell ourselves, the stillness that comes before breath, the void that presses into us like the rivers from a garden that was never ours to begin with. We dissolve and collapse the space between us, we say there’s a beginning so we can believe there’s an exit. We slip beneath. After us there’s nothing because that’s all there’s ever been. This is the fount and the labyrinth. The city knows us. We call out and the echoes haunt us, they lure us to our death because they sing with our mouths, they remember what we’ve lost and what’s to come. The waves tear everything apart. There are no stars to guide us. We fill every space that contains us. We reach into the dark to prove there was something before it, to separate heaven and earth, to name ourselves in light and cast out what defiles us. We touch the surface just to learn to drown. There’s no axis in the depths, no center, no separation between us and the waters and we’re absolved. This is the emptiness that makes us whole, a paradise of absence that promised we’d be gods. The blood unfurls on our tongues and it comforts us, it weighs in us until we understand the death that gives birth to us, until we pull on annihilation and are whole. There’s a rush and then silence and each of these things consumes the other, there’s no division because they’re salt and water and we drink while the city dreams around us, our edges blurring against a halo of streetlights and empty windows and sirens. The darkness moves through us, the deep faceless and perfect and it is us, it’s the stillness that comes after violence, the lie we tell ourselves to hold creation in our hands.
There is no one here but us and our fear and we slip into the corpse forest and there’s nothing else, only the city and it’s endless, it’s the whole of us, our heaven chained beneath sky, our horizon fucked to nothingness. The streets are built on the backs of the dead, an autopsy of memories that feed the veins of what passes underneath us, all the void of earth and blood. Our skin is a latticework. We touch and we pull apart. Our mouths connect us. Our heartbeat shudders into permanence. The asphalt sings from the deepest parts of us. We make a funeral out of concrete, we bury what we’ve lost. There are centuries inside us, all steel and darkness, winding out into forever with no keterpoint, no סוף אין, no center to divide us from ourselves. We play out the last judgement at the intersections they’ve carved into us, scream until there’s no light left to us, the trump is played and nothing changes, there’s no white throne. We rise in the aftermath, the dream of some divinity long since emptied and left heartless, homeless, a casualty of the metal that laces through us. The living move through us but we’re motionless. We’re pinioned along the cardinal, sacramental and ruined. We’re reborn from the fundament, our hands around the throats of angels, their swords buried in our mouths. We sigh and spill, our streets martyred for the passage into incandescence, we ignite and then. The cartography of this place kills. There is no mercy for what brought us to this, a beginning if there is such a thing and there isn’t, the moment falters and we destroy it, our teeth tear into the azimuth. The city devours us and we worship. All of this is holy.
The walls are soft. Something shifts beneath us and we open our mouths, looking for the give and the press of the years buried in the empty places, in the stairways, in the halls. Plaster and silence. A slow seep of water that feeds us, that keeps us from the corpse inside us, our body and the building and the city that enfolds us.The light is almost gone. Through the glass there’s darkness. There’s a voice and then there’s quiet. We inhale and this place breathes with us and we fill ourselves up until we can almost feel what’s beneath us, blind things burrowing in and out and down. It feels like waiting but it’s not. There’s one pulse between us. In the oldest rooms the floors are thick with nicotine and memory and we exhale and the sound unfolds, we exhale and the walls grow soft against our tongue. Tonight there’ll be a finger, a little curious thing that touches without feeling, picking at the edges and the crumbling places and it’s so close. Tonight there’ll be a murder, a little smear of what’s beneath us staining what’s above. Half-hollowed concrete but it’s quiet, just like we promised, the metal gone all fibrous, breeding with itself and it connects us, veins uncoiled in the deep. We touch the heart of it all and it corrupts us. We’re shining, we’re the remnant of the remnant. The black molds over and it sustains us, ley lines of ink and the dead that remember us. We’re fevered and shriven, asphalt piercing earth inside us. The doors are open but there’s no exit. The streets lap up against us, tidal and powerless. We stretch into the sky and crucify the starlight. We see the whole of it. The building consumes us and we rejoice. Each room bleeds out and there’s a voice and then. The heart is with us. Each life a flicker in the silence, a film of skin over the darkness, moving through us and we inhale and this place breathes with us, we press because the walls are thinning and we can taste it. There’s something like life in us, some sickness of recognition or worse, flesh and architecture and bone. A voice cries out and we answer it, we swallow and then it’s quiet and it begins again and it could be different but it doesn’t matter because there are a thousand thousand rooms here and each one is empty and each one is our body, warm and patient and soft. We’re almost home.
The words don’t come. I’ve cut them out. Another tether in the process of giving up. Each syllable and utterance lovingly seam-ripped from sentences that still try to affect something resembling where we started with this, my labour deliberate and blank and violent, idle hands without the Devil’s work to lift them up. Out of all of this I’ve spoken of silence the most because it’s with me every hour and I want to say I know it but the familiarity never comes, there’s no comfort. The air cracks my tongue. I know the silence and I don’t, I know now that I’m missing and it hurts more than I thought because there’s no answer and it doesn’t matter because. I aim for a number. It makes the words a shape instead of anything else, the geometry unassailable and me unpronounceable, my body thinning but already invisible, presented without comment, cultivated and voiceless. I disappear or I don’t, it’s meaningless because I died years ago. I say I’m here but I lost. The words dissolve and I’ll do anything because anything less and it’d be more obvious that I’m helpless. This is how it’s always been. I know this game by heart. I wrote the minutes of my own autopsy. I SPEAK and I LOSE because there isn’t enough space here to play for distance and the intimacy is a death wish. You watch while I overdose. I’m chasing a number because without it there’s no reason to keep writing this. This is how it’s always been except now I know enough to murder hope. This is my mother tongue, I said, and there’s no one else, just what’s left of me that’s cold. And then slowly, and softly, everything reaches stillness, and I stop; there is no echo left at all.