A bird, a bee, a sycamore tree,

I’ve never been as strong
as anyone thinks—there were times
when, of course, I cried—at movies
mostly, at television shows, those fictive

lion’s ribs and honey,

releases, built to house feeling
so it is shameless. I am
shameless as in I've run out of it.
I always pictured Delilah as a man—

combs alchemized to a gold

men tempt me—
and I understood Samson as a fiction—
unconvinced of masculinity—
so I felt him, I felt him as Delilah did.

lung, unbreathing, sweet.

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Eden Incunabulum


"As his unlikeness fitted mine"—

so his luciferous kiss, ecliptic : me pinned beneath lips bitten as under weight of prayer, Ave—but no common vocative, no paradise above, and we not beholden to a name, not to a local god banking fever blaze his seasonal malady of flowers—nor to demi-urge nor the lapsarian system’s glittering, how later we spoke between us of sacred and profane as if the numinous could bring death—the only system—to bear burn outside him and hang its glister wisdom and singe in the viridian wilt. Lilt, to break salt in that sugar where skin was no choice and sanguine, not blameless, though, Ave, I loved our words for want beginning liquor, squander sip and fizz : fuck, ferment I loved and bluebottles tippling windfall rot, bruises’ wicked wine gone vinegar beneath the taut brief glaze of wings, but it was not yet nameable, what we later called disease : script brought us by the trick snake’s fakey Beelzebubbery. In the dirt with his dictionary skin, tight skein of syllables knit by un- numbered undulating clicking ribs, the snake slunk and stung and spelled the dust with his tongue and tail and was nothing, a black forked lisp in the subfusc grass hued blue as the blue sky tipped its lip to ocean horizon and filled, hugest amphora, and sank, evening, Ave, I will tell you now I loved it all. That in his hot body there was something similar to the idea of heat which was in my mind, that when we alembic, lay together, we bequeathed the white fixed earth beneath ardent water and a season’s kept blood, and I not a rib of his, not further hurt in his marrow—for the idea of death was in him, the only system—and we lay together in the field that was not yet page, not begun with A—, not alpha nor apple, not Ave, not yet because what we knew was the least of it then. It was difficult to sleep with the love of words gone gospel between my thighs where nightly he’d jack the pulpit, Ave Corpus, Ave Numen, gnosis and throb unalphabetical, I will tell you I loved it all, fastest brushfires and dryburns his body’s doublecross, garden lost to loss, incurable season : wilt, lilt : singe, our song. And the snake, lumen skin of alphabets, rubbing his stomach in the dust until his tin eyes filled with milk, his slack skin flickered and split and new black sinew out of the slough dead lettered vellum legless crept and let fall wept whisper, hiss, paperhush : with the skin language left behind I bind time to memorial : Book of Our Garden Hours, illuminated bloom : Here a gilt script singe sings of heat split in its leaves, and the bee gives suck to the book : Ave Incunabulum, love’s first work : Ave, In Memoriam— [ J—5/99 ]


Incunabulum: a book printed at an early date (esp. before 1501). "as his unlikeness fitted mine"—from Tennyson’s In Memoriam