FIRES OF VENUS: “Splinters”

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SPLINTERS

They must have been waiting all night

for someone like you,

these big boys who dance the dance

of an earthquake in slow motion,

their great flat faces immobile,

hands fisted but ready

for a quick blow in the bathroom

or some twirly muscle fantasy.

Crosses glimmer from the sweat

and sheen of their chests.

You free their smiles.

Such nice white teeth.

They give you the nod

and you sway, bend your body

into the current of synth rhythms,

the black plastic shockwave of the club,

and you become the blur on the dance floor,

your witch’s mane whirling,

your sacred wrists offered

to the stratosphere of laser light.

I claim the wall as my own

and wait for the firing squad,

for the fire sliding down my throat

to strike the depths of my stomach.

The music hammers my eyes shut.

I never knew

I could sleep standing up.

A voice inside commands

connect the dots / purge the arteries / sound alarms

seize some illumination from this abyss…

Just a tiny shot, a splinter,

it won’t hurt at all…

Why do family photographs

look like strangers

and voices on the phone

become recordings ten centuries old,

why do newspapers click off a body count

in this age of desire, why

do I reach for my zippo

when I know it’s only

a cheap tiny torch…

Besides, it’s too late.

Your ghost dance is done.

The witch is awake but

she’ll never sing again.

You stagger into my arms

and call me another’s name.

What the hell. I pull you

to me and you drive

your teeth into my flesh

as the music pounds on

and on

and my head floods

with clouds and rain.

Boston, 1989

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