The Insects

I

Without a heart, they cannot break as we do.
And without dreams, they love the way that soil loves,
lacking enemies.
They are the warmth of movement in our decay.
But we are burdened by a thought and an image
that expires in a sad flame.
We are what they diligently tear and scatter
in an undergrowth of dead years,
our years,
awaiting the mouths of their relentless love.

II

I gather about me a moss of need,
sentiment, dream and craving.
Like the rock of afflicted mollusks,
I am a burden of sea, a salt trailed by wounds.
The clay of accumulated sorrow spoils my form.
But they are nature’s perfected coil,
the smooth and frightening form of life without remorse.
Everything else is unrequired.

III

I do not want a bone of song.
I no longer desire a midday loaded with light.
Beneath a country of moist leaves,
I seek transformation, like you,
to outlive the skeleton of my death,
to be a raw and glistening nerve under the moon.

IV

On a bitter leaf, I struggled from
a chrysalis of memory.
Everywhere, wings were blooming.

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My Thirty Hearts

Thirty years old,
I speak to my thirty hearts
that I’ve scattered like confetti afternoons
to the corpulent sky.

Some are snagged in sharp clouds,
some free, floating past
the loosening trees,
some return like balloons,
but I speak to them all.

My five year old heart,
Stub-toed,
Stumbling into rainy days,
receiving them like a leaf,

soggy cats rubbing his swift shins,
and the world bent down on knees
offering immensities
to tiny hands,

fragile hands, like a leaf,
yet brutal as the dawn.

My twelve year old heart,
eyes and tongues and ears
consuming youth,
as wicks consume the air,

wide oceans like
blue fry pans sparking,
and trees slung with tire swings

and little golden girls
budding in his mind,
warm lips, hearts of ochre,
pencil cases filled with scented rubbers,
and voyages down unreal Niles.

My seventeen year old heart,
wants roaring Beethovens,
eyes that sing,
mornings burdened with music,

the tall arms of schoolgirls
he could have touched,
their glistening ears dripping song,
song everywhere,

and the aroma of summer,
sweat, unbathed time,
he’s smattering his inward stars
across the beaming curb,

and the mad strides of youth
already almost at the school gate.

My twenty one year old heart,
cuts the stems one by one,
the sad stamens of home,
the tender, raw fingers of mothers
doing heartache for the first time.

The boy tethered to his one selfish beam,
learning what the men will teach
for a price,
he learns love instead,

opened on the shingles of taste,
the bed he’s made for her to unmake,
life described by revolving sheets,
and night’s lips,
and the broken tongues,

and the things she gives,
growing from the wounds she keeps,
and the forgotten school,
and the discovered sky.

My thirty year old heart,
given away in a reckless bedroom,
leaves only a note with a smudged address.
Tacked to streets,
I go hunting after lost time
not yet past me.

And my heart somewhere, kept by another,
wrapped in a faded golden paper,
stuffed away in a weeping drawer,
with scissors, fingernails, pencil shavings,
a taxidermist’s stuffed child.

And maybe sometimes taken out,
cupped in tears,
walked in lonely gardens of memory
with an old love,
then put away in rainy cupboards.