Epithalamium vii

Yesterday my plants caught wind of my loneliness

as I swung from mood to mood, vine to vine,

but I stayed in that spot by the sink, light of my own light—

ill suction makes the tongue grow numb.

I am Venus in winter, skin puckered & scraping

against the pearly flint of the shell, hair frost-mud-matted

—welcome to the here, I say

, & now (blood crescents on mother pearl)

where things have stayed the same

where were & are have not split

like a seed, like a quiet little zygote

who pushes the breakfast out of my stomach.

I let the water run. I heard you move upstairs.

All of our longing is done in waves.

Epithalamium viii (White Mass)

I am nothing more. I am nothing more

than wallpaper, than a yellow wind

drowning her bedsheets in sin—

your face is a fixture around these corners

like soot-filled lanterns—your left eye in

the crack in the door. I feel something.

I pray for a Ripper to filter in like shadow

& eat my heart—the first man to ever eat

some hidden flesh of mine.

Here we aren’t anything, & we’re not an us

, (like you say), but segmented, sour fruit ( a

pomegranate, the first temptation, comes to

mind)—we are nothing more.

Listen to these walls my love, listen to my hands,

my fingernails scraping yellow bedsheets while I dream of

someone else: a centaur with haunches like knotted rope

& a cock like a forearm. He makes you watch

as I take all of him, as I moan the walls into pieces

—on the final thrust: I collapse into myself like a neutron star

whose fuel has burned out, whose soul is watery & brown

like a cheap brandy (you would never touch).

You are a milky ghost, a coatrack of bones,

a blurry of faces.

You are nothing more.

Epithalamium ix (Black Mass)

Here, you can see where he prayed for fire.

Here, you can see where he made her prove her chastity.

“How could you not be seduced

by those ten lustrous heads?”

Rama stroked his mustache and spoke.

Rama looked into the waver of holy blaze.

She stepped in because she must.

To prove something to the world,

because a woman like that,

any woman, really,

cannot be expected to control herself

in the presence of so many mustaches,

so many dexterous tongues.

The prince cried as she went in.

He stroked his mustache and cried.

If she was true, she would be saved.

“If you are true, you will be saved,” he sobbed.

In another version of the story, it was her clone

that was destroyed in a cloud of fat and seared hair

while the real princess was revealed

in the unfurled fist of the fire-god.

“Oh my jealous prince,” she said,

“you were all I could think of those ten long months.”

She pressed her hand into bedrock and descended into the earth.

Here, you can see where the door closed behind her.

Here, you can see where she walked to her car.

Here, you can see where she took out her keys.

Aaron Joel Lain is a writer based in Nashville, TN. He is the fiction editor for April Gloaming publishing, but his true and only passion is karaoke.

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