I

I do not believe in this slice of time, but in the tremor.

Not in the bird, but the shoulder.

Not in the bear, but the honeypot. Not the near future,

but in the constant memorization

of all my mistakes. Not in the thunder, but sneaking out

of the party, but not in the rain.

Not the umbrella, but the cock, the gravel, not the sky

turned black, not the eyes, but in the music

of flies over new rot, the fruit and not the vine. In the swollen

moment of climax I believe in the self,

as a well, as other, as the therapy of being wrong. In being

wronged, but not forever. I believe

in the hand on my throat as evidence of being, but not alone.

Please don’t let me be alone.

 

II

I know why so much of living is done in practice for dying. The want to feel a breath plucked

pizzicato, air between the sound of footsteps on wine street cobble,

an anger at ice cream for demanding a hastened tongue, soaked cone softened from self-denial.

I am the twisted branch dipped ember end into the sea to gather crystal.

By the time I finish myself there will be two more of me waiting to come, three more fish to salt

& a stable of bulls released to Guernica our momentary understanding

of power as a monetary gesture of light. We unleaven our steps and rest in morphic resonance.

I remember me as a dreaming skull dripping sweat into a bed of iris spears,

then rise to taste for myself the treacle spires of belief, to stomp the fatigue of being myself

in person. Time-based reality as frostbite blood needling through veins

the way the twin fish of hope and need swim around the fact that everything happens eventually

as a forest we enter, forget what for, become content with sprinkling pine

on the flames and laughing at the crackle, inside them a minor sun. The way I want what I want

is heat death, is eating until I taste fire in the cold fruit, flesh in my hand

 

III

Through the pill-bitter prism of getting to know the self’s tender points in the mirror

I discuss the blossoms’ frosty coating, how the sky’s a void,

a pall across the dome, no discernable gradations to be found. I recall a dying bird

nursed on a bus ride, every dying bird a synecdoche

like a parent’s narcissism, my unbroken reflection in Lake George’s surface then playing

Sims with my son, who won’t allow my character to woohoo.

I spend more time hoping to find the edge of the program than trying to win the game

or building a repository of surface instincts and sleep masks.

When I was my son’s age I imagined someone on the other side of the game kept score.

I wanted to win, to feel the praise of the scorekeeper.

Like this, I found your God by accident, between the words shades and gray a long monotone

stretch of the daily static, in the spectrum of acceptance

of tethers, and not in a dead way, but the doubt that I am and its inverse, a small glory of relief

that what’s held and is holding, that does the letting go.

 

IV

The thaw reached you first in your satiety felt in the presence of blooming magnolias,

your hunger for them as cake equaled only by mine for you,

for the taste of us, childlike imagining of the swallowed seed growing inside me,

trunk rising through guts and out of my mouth to reach the light.

Of all the animals I have been, I have finally come to learn to steer my presence knowing I am

no less the animal, but a more common breed at peace, domestic and still.

I desire to be the first of my kind, what has only resulted in failure, extinction until now.

The way I want this is close to if not unholy, a beast whose face I shed daily.

I recall how you told me that had I been there, had I asked you, you would of bent over

the bar in the place we imagined our previous selves meeting.

At night muscle memory builds a simulation of us, two strangers fucking away memory,

how long it would have taken those selves to destroy each other.

I fade into a month of disposable feelings and tea before bed, where time becomes the milk

of two lions eating a horse. I ride a plate of oysters into deep forgetting.

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Born in Upstate New York, poet and video artist ADAM TEDESCO is a founding editor of REALITY BEACH, an independent chapbook press, journal of new poetics, and roving reading series. His video poems and site-specific work have been shown at MoMA PS1, &Now: A Festival of Innovative Writing, No Nation Gallery, and the New Hampshire Poetry Festival, among other venues. He has written long-running columns for a number of publications on the topics of drugs and dream analysis. His poetry and essays, have appeared or are forthcoming in Fanzine, Fence, Gramma, jubilat, Conduit, Laurel Review, Powderkeg, Prelude, and elsewhere. He is the author of several chapbooks, most recently ABLAZA (Lithic Press, 2017), ISO 8601:2004 (Really Serious Literature, 2018), and Misrule (Ursus Americanus, 2019). His first full-length poetry collection, Mary Oliver, was published by Lithic Press in February of 2019.

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