More Beautiful Things
Short dreams steam up the insides of my eyelids.
I wake naked. I wake sweating. I wake like waking is a midnight orgasm.
My self has escaped through the seams in my skull;
spackle and trowel—patching was never my talent.
What I wish I’d remember
slips and snarls beyond me—
lying awake at night I remind myself
there are always sinister more beautiful things.
A dark walk through a dark forest,
a blood-stained creature cracks twigs underfoot.
Ghostly flesh, wax sheened pale glistened
lies speckle the palm of my hand.
The secret of the dragonfruit, though cocksure, though fuschia:
the pips stick to your lips. Oh, are there mosquitoes? Let’s go inside.
To Cross a Valley
Laughter binds this distance.
Awakens unity incarnate.
We rise. The pillows preen themselves,
discuss the musk of skin.
Holy curl—burnt passion
d r i f t s
On the riverbed a log becomes
a crocodile becomes a cricket
All animals wonder
A fissure follows—
a fellow fishes,
so sure of so little
so wary of so much.
These times are sunlight—crafted
warmth-seeking rays, the swoosh of care,
the internet Lite Brite shiny
devours wonderment until bursting
with stars. A child's glee
We run in cornfields, stars out.
Silence strives to echo, to mimic
the sound of our winded bodies.
through screens, between words
up stanzas, couplets, endlessly.
Even Now Our Rings Melt
Cut shame from my bones;
make my tallow a candle—
your questions, a wick.
Xylene, paraffin, kerosene.
All my lies, now liquid.
Ruby in this oxide crystal slips.
I let the clock wilt, willow drift, tick-
tocked my life into something unrecognizable
because I tongued a sore affection for you
because I slobbered all over my chin
because I licked my way back to you
boring my tongue into every crevice.
The earth still holds our raindrops,
our dirt scent and crushed blossoms.
Ire on Sage
The first step is its own reward
coated in prescience, electrifying twinges of doubt.
This is what I get for venturing out—
skin nicked, splintered exposed.
I crawl back inside myself.
I pull at your indignation and shove it back down your throat.
On lye soap day, you
bring goat’s milk
in a pestle we grind lavender
and sunflower root, softly hum.
Soothing our ire on sage advice,
we walk in the cool air and breathe.
Find our rage reduced—
nothing more than the rumour of a whisper.
An ekphrastic poem inspired by Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights Triptych (1490-1500)
Tag yourself: I’m platypus reading a book,
perfectly unaware of the coming chaos.
Or, no, I’m something being eaten.
Spiked creatures graze on the other side of the pasture.
We walk our swans on the lake surface.
Pigeons mate with cats,
gather all gilded animals, lovers
trace the outlines of lakes,
the hill’s vermillion borders.
See there, seadog reads to unicorn
fish, while overhead birds escape
a-flutter from writing-nib towers.
Stout, weasel, ermine and pig
frolic in distance deep.
Tote hymns of Abrahamic salvation.
Where there is clear water there are
also dark pools, beings that drag
themselves skyward, yearning.
All I see in paradise is absence.
There is no Lilith—no one like me.
She left knowing it was not for her.
You think we built these structures—pink
blue—but we only roll with
what emerges. In truth, these rocks grew.
The spiked ships carry us across lakes.
Fold ourselves into orbs. We grow. We grow.
Peaches burst open at our gyrating.
Shifting missives, from pierced spheres to
wiry tendrils and pale pink thistles atop
sweet, sick? Ovalene ships.
Only birds have rickety glory. Fish arid, stroked, sad.
Hooves ridden in frenzy. A shell for your flimsy white bodies.
Human touch as follows: exploitation, safety, death.
Crack each other open in the solar poppy glow
as organs confer in our bodies.
How best to bask among strawberries.
Usually I’d think it ideal to have flowers in my ass.
So perfectly unaware of the environmental impact.
Like climbing into the bottom of a giant cracked egg.
It’s meant to be depravity
but it looks like Eden.
A joyous, unashamed pleasure.
The music on my skin was inked before
I was flattened. All pain is useless, useless,
useless—they play a different song.
An organ is an instrument for living
for pleasure. Body is cavity and cave.
Ladders and knives: uncertain vehicles.
Don’t judge me for giving in to a few desires.
It’s merely decent to feel perfect and unaware.
Get back to me when you can poop gold.
Flame and frenzy imprisons
air, asphyxiates figures, we leap,
leap, from ladders speared.
Our fucking is like bleeding, a slice
through skin. The violin plays itself. We do the same.
Time is not running out.
This is a breakdown of logic.
A landscape exposing its fear.
Nothing but a distrust of dreams.
Learn to play knife music: cut
incisions into the owl-like structure of the mind,
dance into hyperdrive, oblivion.
VII is seven voices fused into one exquisite corpse: Manahil Bandukwala, Ellen Chang-Richardson, Conyer Clayton, nina jane drystek, Chris Johnson, Margo LaPierre and Helen Robertson. Based on the belief that seven minds are better than one and that many ideas make joyous chorus, we say: We are I and I is VII. Formed in March 2020, VII is based in Ottawa, Ontario, the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabeg First Nation. Our first chapbook is forthcoming with Collusion Books in Spring 2021.