Two Poems

 

This is why when I was fifteen years old I took over the world

girl said to boy
you’re so gentle you’re almost not there
boy said to girl
you’re so rough that you give me a scare
girl said to boy
I want you to be more of a man
boy said to girl
I don’t want to be much more like them
girl said to boy
you don’t have to be cruel to be strong
boy said to girl
the world always says that you’re wrong
girl said to boy
do you trust my love less than their hate
boy said to girl
hide me here in your hair and we’ll wait
girl said to boy
I can’t shield you they’re big as the sea
boy said to girl

 

Recovery

For a moment my eyes were not part of a body
the lids moved open like garage doors onto
a violently sunny day that tore the roads to pieces
the light streamed through the window
an unbearable assault of absurd beauty
and I remembered my body thrown
through the windshield just before my spirit
the glass that opened like a restrained flower
into flecks of healthy blood and diamond-glint
as the hours passed like wolves across my body
on the tar where the doe I avoided hitting stared
like the mute eye of god from the side of the road
that I rose through to see the startling beauty of the wreckage
from a gentle hook that hung my vision in the sky
and my spirit winking through my skin
in the midst of hooved footseps
was like a leaping of frogs
that moved with hand-clapping sounds to avoid
a whole parade of sensual tires undistinguished from my muscles

when I woke again in the birth of sirens
that made their blue and red cascades across my flesh
I felt like a mushroom prouting limbless from the fragrant tar
the odor of my blood was a sweet perfume of sleep
and the pain my bones had made for me was distant
like a tinkling of spoons stirring in cups in other countries

I saw from the stretcher
a white plane carried by exhausted human angels
where I had no more voice to complain
that the engine that had almost taken my life
was a powerless hulk like a crumpled metallic napkin
tossed to the steaming ground by a godlike hand
tilting the telephone pole it had hit
making the wires spray their sparks to the flattened grass
detaching phones that would’ve called each other to advertise my death.
a shimmering, grey hole was punched in the atmosphere of summer
where my body had made a smeared angel
in the recent past of earth’s fragrant surface
metallic flakes of blood decorating the long green blades
and the dandelions sprayed with viscera

all these surroundings became vivid in my injuries
my blood released brought out the color of the trees
and I saw that they were towering green flowers
and that they would someday be carved in new ways
by my own departed hand
already I could feel the colors of the gut-splattered ferns
reaching into my flesh to take my eager spirit into their brief growth

and the scenery was pushed away by slamming doors
through corridors where the fluorescent lights
fell like milk on the ache of my body
taking on improperly the weight of universe
beneath oblivious eyes that hooked me to eyeless machines
a blind world ignoring the whirling of itself
I stared through rain-smashed windows
over the pebble-covered shining roofs like fallen skies
stars put out by buckets of water and lets to cool
where the angels howled like white wolves for my spirit

heaven and hell were broken toys on the distant grasses
a mouth opened in the flesh of the earth that would never shut
I thought of all the babies that had been born
into all their screaming nerves in this vast glass house
and my body was alive with their perfect cries

I felt the nurses filing terrible information in my body
knowledge of the growth of flesh outside its natural food
knowledge of the spirit detached from the earth where it feeds
so I left my newly mechanized body
to coast over the vast gridworks of steaming tar
making their own mechanical way through the tall and angry flowers of the trees
paths that never change except to fracture

footless and without any hair on my astral body
I walked with the curious deer
who were, with their fur-surrounded
infinitely tranquil eyes,
sniffing at the blood my body had left behind

one turned her animal head in total innocence
toward my misplaced spirit standing like a flame on the bleeding road
sniffed suspiciously at the afterlife in the air and spoke
through the pinched flower of her mouth in the voice of a nurse:
“the patient is losing consciousness” is what she incorrectly said
for I had grown so large as to contain in my infirmity
not only the innocent marble mirror of the deer’s eyes
but also the hungry flocks of birds making their v-shaped parades
to flatten the curve of the sky above my torched spirit
where my numb hands below their wings
had grasped the hair of the earth
not expecting anyone to re-connect
their painted nerves with the rest of my flesh

again and again I woke in hospital beds expecting to be a spirit
flickering against the sail of the sheets in heavenly breezes
but the machines quacked and seemed to plug themselves
back in to save my body every time I longed to wake up
somewhere to the right or to the left of all the airplanes
that churn the air above earth and all its fragile heavens
and soon I found that my theory of heaven was preposterous.
there was a great work to be done in the skies
that would call for my hands when it was ready
I knew that nothing, whether human or animal, had ever ended
but the future of our bodies was to be relieved of their strange duty to time
as the violent spirit soared to become one
in all its uncontrollable colors
both with its maker and its destroyer
a hole had opened in the sky and I did not wish to go any further.
my father waited there behind something
more vivid than a cloud that I did not care to name
and I called him a coward
for throwing himself through the sky like a bag of groceries
deliberately through the curved glinting glass walls
of a windshield and this world’s atmosphere so long ago
to abruptly interrupt his journey and become
merely a rainy statue in my mind
a pair of eyeglasses filled with lying photographs

machines beeped and threw the air sideways away from my ears
a family member was thrown outside their voice in sobs
somewhere beside the realized ocean of my body
and I knew that when I woke up I would be a broken god
because I had gone through the same glass as my father
and survived the surgeon’s blade thereafter
the cut that had been too much for him
and had left scarred instead a grin on me

I’d been cast through the bodies of deer and birds
been conscious painfully of the demanding beauty
that they missed with their linear instincts
in the places that they roam in mistaken peace
my human eyes causing an eruption through their feathers
toward a world where their bodies would never stop
a world outside the earthly weather

and when I awoke for the final time
my body finally stable enough to hold my consciousness
I saw I had no need of any heaven.
through the ceiling tiles and their electric branches
I felt the moon healing itself.
my father was a mask, my body was a glistening snake
beneath or above the world, I knew not which
and the tubes that held me no longer coursed with any fluid

it was so late that the occasional car passed like a soft bomb
in my renewed and sharpened consciousness
the blades of my brain were starved for the smog-laced air of the world
I felt the country and the city call for my bones
in simultaneous invitations that made
the leaves and windows quiver in my skin
to draw me outward not through the glass this time
or to fall stories to the rhythm of dead footsteps far below
but to carve my own walk in a glowing path
to cut the unnecessary centuries to ribbons by my sides
and live outside the crude predestination of the eternal plan

I walked outside through cities that had been bombed and rebuilt
around my cocoon of flesh while I slept, the feeding tubes
dropped from their purposeful puncture wounds in my body
and the bandages surfacing in unexpected places
to let out the days of death
and show the air that it was asleep
until it met the mind that festered inside my battered frame
and I and the city shimmered like flesh rebuilt from
and carved free from foggy ghosts

a man needs to be murdered and reborn to see the way I saw
a crowd of unlikely flowers in their soundless choir
just weeks after winter behind a black cast-iron fence
like a shield that hell had set up in front of their barely-dancing bodies

I rubbed my bandaged hand against the fence
let out the blood again and held my palm
like a blasphemous sun above the petals
let the red liquid drip like ancient wine
and wondered how old the blood must be inside the highway of my veins
boiling through the centuries and resisted by my ancestors
the veins clamoring for new life to bleed into all the earth

a squirrel was bunching up his cheeks on the grass
and I saw that God has let down her guard to let such loveliness
and innocence enter mortal bodies
a tear seemed to be squeezed from my whole skull
and dripped into the miracle of the flower
beneath my hand the salty tears sloshed back and forth
inside its fragile goblet       and the miracle of its dark parts
and I wondered if I had had to be killed
to see these things the way they would look
to an infant eye with adult brain

the morning came on newspapers
made meaningless in my living coma
I could not help but laugh at the eyes in cafes interested in their pages
there was no human quality inhuman
my hate before I crashed had been an illusion
but I must have met gods
different from the ones they worshipped
when I made my bandaged pilgrimage
through the unmasked world

I saw through a shimmering restaurant window
that held askew the galaxy’s reflection
a girl with lips that burst inside my body
went like a tilted dream through the ringing door
and sat across the dead wood
from the poise of her unscarred humanity
letting my soul flash light prismed by pain into her posture
and as she lowered the lie that was the newspaper
I could feel everything that had been killed
and everything that lived gathering their forces
in the air around me       I should not have been able to speak in the human language
during such intensity       but my mouth flowered to meet her
in the stagnant air       and my eyes fluttered like ethereal pigeons
her face shattered the small pocket of peace in that place
in fear at my bandages
and I saw that there was a blood-streaked yellow flower
a daffodil clenched past its health in my raw hand
that was a flower in itself from the best part of hell
lying on the table       obvious in its desire to climb her like an immortal spider
because those who come back from death are often greedy for beauty.

should I have apologized to her for the obviousness
of the terrible force that had met my body?
I wondered. There are suns bursting
like roman candles in other solar systems
and we sit here with carefully groomed expressions
drinking a terrible liquid that everyone calls coffee.
“what should we do with your beauty and my bandages?”
I asked her and she never answered.
I should have waited until my pain was less obvious than the sun
but feared that when I healed into a set of every-day clothes
she would no longer shine such unkept light into my spirit.

the hospital gown made me look like a wounded bird
my soul had been fully opened to all of earth’s glories
and as her startled eyes met mine
that would never be startled again
by any action or inaction of man
I knew that if I could translate my fragile journey
into the minds of every person on earth
that there would be no more war between us.
then I looked into the glimmer of the restaurant’s glass interior
and saw the most ridiculous Christ
that either of us would ever imagine.

Luke Buckham is a prolific contributor to Spread.
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