My father said I would not find him here,
but I’ve 2 coins for passage, 3 boiled ox bones, 1 cup blood.
Hell is a room the size of the world:
I’ve been two days on the Plain of Needles, each one sewing
some poor soul to the landscape. The souls exhale sin
with every breath, growing thinner
until pale flowers push through their skin toward the sky
and an imagined Heaven. I pick a flower,
and grind the petals between my teeth.
The distance holds Dis, the city of regret. The way back
is blocked by frogs with human eyes in their mouths,
but there’s no danger if you don’t stare.
Some figure beckons—but it is only a shadow
shorn by the dimming sun. The sun is fed
more bodies and wells into brightness
like a picked scab—it has followed me, bobbing
on its giant stalk, leering so close
when I cleansed myself in the River of Unshed Tears
that burning eyelashes hallowed the ground like snow.
An angel on the hill ahead is slowly devouring his legs.
When I reach him he is gone; the city has snuck up; it’s a bully.
Its stone walls are dust beneath my fingers. I breathe in,
let my lungs calcify. My words emerge
under slabs of rock. The city is empty and falling,
the wide courtyards now full of eyeless cats.
When a ravine splits the sky, Earth’s muddy light
unearths my father. We have much to talk about.
“Dis” is from City of Regret, (Zone 3 Press, 2007).