“…And I should love you the more because I mangled you And because you were no longer beautiful To anyone but me.” -The Love Song of St. Sebastian T.S. Eliot
Lining each path, each road stop and roadway we traverse here,
wake-robins exhibit folds thick with lashes of redemption. Course
flint beneath supports our beatific mission. The quarries green,
gray, and black as durable as the city’s Big Shoulders weathering
in stories behind us. And now, as he rests eyes bloodshot with
laughter, I will tell you of the urge for execution brewing betwixt
us on a freeway east of Cleveland. Our mass now critical, it is
clear that one of us must be retired. Rather than paint him past
prime I elucidate instead upon his errant missives as evidence
that his aim is far from true, and as sad as sweet Cuban rum
mixed in gigantic decanters of coffee picked up in mega-Targets
across the Midwest. His emperor pride harmed by the rapidity
of scenery – Los Angeles to Greenfield, MA in just days – and
regional tongues speaking to him with little gained in the way
He fears the glow from my eyes testifies before helminth
encountered like intestinal gospel. Expunges our nominal
guilt for spreading parasitic words. Like an August heat bears
yellowed leavings of lewd summer trysts, we tried to unburden souls
in Primm, the base of Big Rock Candy Mountain, and in suburban
Denver where we spared a child close to rolling far away from
cliffs of the ‘pretty house’. We dressed in white suits and combed
our hair. Bathed. Carried bibles adorned with purple rosary
page holders. This cross-country art-house mission on 4 wheels
under an ancient Acura shell our passion play. We play against
each other for the lead. It was never meant to be visceral: intent
before lightning rattled our wheels.
“Let’s talk instead about our crusade and wrongful crucifixions,”
I say and I am visibly unnerved upon this perch; positioned by
my blood for a letting. Would I soon be tied off the southern Erie
shores for dispensing my grade of faith, for following through
with the performance directive? For my sweet honey pitch?
Will he turn on me any moment now? Paint me with primary
circles and a large red dot scribed driven mad. We had lost
each other by Lincoln. After the stop and the ticket. After the search
and seizure of our better natures; parable of a mad police dog
and DV camera that did not rise out our open sunroof and
capture a scene of me being profiled, led forsakenly astray,
and my brother interceding, dropping to his knees, polishing
the stick for my release. And me swallowing air instead. This is not
a pot stirring. This is quest. This is calling.
And now the knot up under my left trapezius – obliquely poised
adjacent the evil rasp seething from my right lung – bellows and
foams a betrayal. Urban his drawl. Arrow entry from above, below
and behind. Fine hardly audible tearing at the site of the exit
wounds. Clean incisions. No bone fragment. Derision in and
empathy, running a deficit, out. Sensitivity not ready to leave
the body catacombs quite yet, not yet ready to swaddle me with
halos, with art, with pure love joy. I believe you were not rehearsed
for the drag of the journey. I believe you sabotaged the radio
with a partially resurrected iPod mini. I believe there will be a drug
or a store ahead where lotions and balms wait to kiss my aches.
Distilled agave. Perhaps a miraculous heating pad too. Where
miles of blood filming the roadway, figuratively, are forgiven
loaded youth and sprayed off of the asphalt.
Co-mingling beneath the Sixth City geology kneel converters
to my honeyed pitch and humble yaw. You offered hugs and
kisses to the forsaken in rest stop restrooms. I could forgive you.
I could. Though I do find it suspicious that these arrows, loosed
from regions where we pursued our preachy AM radio amuse-
ments and pissed in soy fields, these arrows seem to find the same
point of entry as though fed in, as if someone could persuade
an arrow. Someone close enough? And as the point of entry for
so much girded malice and malaise the brown of my hair has run,
trickled down to my feet, and into the rich Ohio Valley soil where
it takes root and grows into the Ash that provides the next quiver.
Each nock of the new set milled as an apse relevant to this body
and blood of whatever. This disharmony between us. A body full
of hand holds and recesses. And stabbing pains. This body continues
pushing sound away from it; the rattles of jest and repent, the sound
of your pulsing neck, as if a reduction in nonsensical road games
could bequeath a peace many would find comfort in being spared.
Spared the ire and scorn scored in bulk.
I blame you for me seething out the window like a rabid dog begging
the gun. I am to be the tethered target practiced in dissent, hope
and faith. Look to your own open source and find me in one form
or another protecting our mother’s gold from thrill seekers. I am war
and shipped within my infernal twin (who has indeed flipped his wig)
from one coast to another easement, and the discomforts lining me
grow and spread inducing smirks from my taller brother and other lepers.
I the one who lit up in seedy hotel rooms; I the one mixing Red Bull
and rum cocktails for our dirty quick epiphanies.
Yet each fletch of the newly milled set flexes us toward Horseheads,
NY, which will prove a crushing mistake, a crucial navigation error.
Leaving me more vulnerable than an apple. Closer now to what will
prove to be my final resting place, my Appian Way complete with
gaslight and discount gasoline. This lack of sleep reduces me to near
tears, and you, dear brother, tiring of residual laughter. Your snout
still wet with snot and red from road kill of skunk and comedic
And so, if this is the act of dying for art, for transgression and soul,
for whiskey, water, and a couple of blanched skulls more, then so be it.
Let us no longer divide and conquer. Wake! Come for me. Seek and
find your zealot brother. Love me again and I’ll no longer act the nuisance
if, as your final act of penance, you retrieve me from the sewers, leaving
the simple pious seeds of me there for eventual grinding.
Originally Published in f(r)iction #4 / spring of 2016