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Nov 2019 · 80
after the autopsy
serpentinium Nov 2019
all i have is the light
that pierces my palms
in the shroud of another
tomorrow, another day
spent hunched over a table
squinting at the labeled parts
of people in test-tubes
pointing red-slick glass
towards the fluorescents
& wondering if this is how
God looks at us,
gazing at the messy, clotted innards
of their creation but still choosing to
hold us close to the light,
as if we could catch a glimpse of heaven
that way.
Nov 2019 · 51
momentary
serpentinium Nov 2019
i want to remember all of it
the babble of cicadas at dusk
in the backyard of my childhood home
the way my eighteen-year-old cat
settles against my thigh, twitching
almost imperceptibly in her sleep
dreaming of whatever cats dream of
as i, awake & reading by lamplight,
surface from my book
momentarily moved by the way time
sweetens with age, giving spoonfuls of
sugar to sweeten the dark, bitter cup of life
that i’ve learned to drink from greedily.
eternity is built on moments, a house
we can only glimpse through windows
its spiraling halls all leading back to
the front door, the golden porch-light
blazing like a fire, a flickering beacon.
but you aren’t meant to stare at the light
or wait on the front porch, empty hands
reaching for a lock that cannot be opened.
there is a world that is still spinning
however slowly, seconds amassing into
moments—sometimes as bright as polished brass or as dark as uncut onyx—that will spill out of your hands if you aren’t paying attention
so clutch the infinite in the
present, in the mundane, in the everyday
act of existing here & now, as you are,
as you’ll never be again—as i’ll never be again.
this is why i want to remember all of it
to collect my little infinities
back turned to the glowing porch-light
living for the sake of living,
to see my black cat sleeping peacefully, dreaming not of anything as lofty as eternity, but, perhaps, of a can of savory tuna, a bowl of water,
or the warmth of a blanket stretched over her
tired joints.
Sep 2019 · 299
scientia potentia est
serpentinium Sep 2019
i think of those lab rats
living their lives
blissfully in cages
hand-fed fruit-loops
and poison

they’re happy
says the veterinarian
scribbling notes on a clipboard
while the rats drink sugar
water and run on wheels

fate is not kind to lab rats
their years are already so short
a drop in the bucket compared
to the well of time humans draw
from greedily

death is a shadow for humanity;
it is the thought gnawing on the bars
of our mind, the ghost of an animal
running endlessly on a wheel
that we placate with toys and treats

we call it housing enrichment
because even lab rats have a home
because we choose to personify everything
even the things we ****:
carbon monoxide, bloodletting, a severing of nerves

and when they breathe their last breath
we write in our journals that the animals were
sacrificed, not killed, not murdered
dying for a cause bigger than them
for science, for knowledge, for gods on sterile altars
sacrificing animals in science is a tetchy subject for most; even some scientists. i just don't want to forget the importance of a single life--that which we **** to help others survive. note: scientia potentia est translates to 'knowledge is power'
serpentinium Sep 2019
life is unbearably short
& we so rarely get the ending
we spent years tossing pennies
into mall fountains for.
but we exist
here
in the space between
heartbeats
so next time
when that old childhood urge
(a friend, really)
comes, greet it with a
smile
make it a homecoming
let the future settle gently
into the present
just like a penny
floating to the bottom of a
well
a second version of a prev poem titled 'when it is time to go'
Aug 2019 · 152
when it is time to go
serpentinium Aug 2019
I spent hours
answering the question:
Why?
What else is there? I respond
a laugh flying deftly
from my mouth
in a tumble
of pillow feathers.
Did you know, then?

Life is unbearably short
and rather tragic.
And we so rarely say or do
what we should.
Years spent stuffing words
into our pockets
amongst loose change,
brittle leaves,
all those rainy-day prayers
collecting in denim
pockets waterlogged.

Here is what I do know:
There is you.
And me,
and possibilities we have yet
to even dream of.
So hold my hand,
listen to the
song the starlings sing in the
late evening
and fall asleep here
in the embrace
of dusk.
This blanketing dark
that calls us by name.
serpentinium Aug 2019
a girl nervously swinging
her legs, fingers drumming
on paint-stained tables, rocking
in a broken plastic chair, curling
her short brown hair around her
index finger as if it could somehow
anchor her to the classroom and not
the thousands of thoughts that cluttered
her mind.

a girl who slept through class,
unable to be roused by her
well-meaning teacher; a yawn
stuck perpetually in her throat,
head nodding to a lullaby
composed of multiplication
tables, laughter, stories spoken
aloud, rain that hit the
windows in stuttering staccatos.

a girl who never learned to
study, who couldn’t understand
how someone could open a
textbook and read it—how
someone could set out to do a
task and not feel like their mind
was a jungle of vines and pitfalls and
quicksand, full of venomous, life-draining,
beasts. “how do you tame them?” she asked,
only to be met with wolfish laughter.

{silly girl, you can’t tame something that
doesn’t exist.)

a girl who felt failure in her heart--
in the way it quivered like a hare
caught in a trap whenever grades were
given out, as if the number at the top
of the page was a sword to fall upon;
better to fail without trying, to settle the
point of the blade just below her sternum,
to choose a painless death then to risk
trying and experience an even greater
sense of failure—to become the
disappointment she feared was
her only birthright.

{silly girl, stupid girl, lazy girl, “stubborn as a bull” girl,
girl without manners, girl born impulsive,
girl in a cage, girl struck by lightning,
girl without a future, girl that became an animal.)

a girl with a Sisyphus-shaped
hole in her heart, pushing her
burdens up the infinitesimal
steps of academia, jealous of
the ease in which her classmates
walked up the stairs, their
burdens as light as a few notebooks.

a girl with answers, decades later,
still struggling, but unlearning
helplessness—stepping out of
her cage, one hesitant footstep
at a time, the beasts in her head
whining softly, circling her heels,
always a lunge away from sinking
their teeth into her flesh.

she regards them with pity, stroking
their soft fur, gazing into the coal-black
eyes of her greatest fears—and thanks
them one by one for the pain, for the
tears, for the loneliness, because while
they taught her many horrible things,
they also taught her that she could
survive.
as i wasn't diagnosed w/ adhd until last yr around the time i turned 22, i've had a long & complicated journey w/ academia. i may look academically successful on the outside, but it was at a terrible cost: my self esteem. in other words, it's never too late to get help & you'll be so happy that you did.
Aug 2019 · 553
speechless
serpentinium Aug 2019
there you are
eclipsed by moonlight
& here i am
kneeling in your shadow

a black dog prayer
wedged between the
chapel silence of you
& the church bells of me

there is gravity to our
antiparallel orbit;
you, the blue planet
& me, the stranded astronaut

but you say we are at a
crossroads like it's a goodbye,
our unwinding paths
arcing through the night

i was a falling star,
a sinking ship, plummeting
into that familiar abyss
a tempest of tragedy

when i fell in love with you;
do you remember it?
how my heart lurched
in my chest at the sight of you?

there was rain
there were tears
there was dirt
there were bodies crammed

in coffin-sized pews
suits dripping with water
& you, your handkerchief,
that up till 1 in the morning grin

smelling of whiskey & wintergreen
as you pressed your shoulder
against mine so gently that i
thought you were a ghost

caught in the morning light
or an angel haloed by stained
glass, flying into church
like a starling come to roost

i cried then while you stared
at the nail bitten quick of my
fingers, at the entire mess of me
& chose to remain at my side

you tucked me in until the sheets
touched my chin & oh,
it broke my heart to pieces
you sitting in the corner

sleeping in that wicker chair
like we were strangers
like you didn't live here too
the shape of you known

by every piece of furniture
in the house
but you kept your distance
as if you were afraid

that i would burn up in
your embrace,
turned to cinders in the
enormity of your love

as if i did not throw myself
to the pyre years ago &
come sprouting from the
ash-smoked ground

you were a forest fire
a natural disaster of a lover
leaving me cracked open &
broken in a soul-starved way

knocking away the walls
around my heart
until the home that grief made
crumbled at your touch

i am bad at being vulnerable
too much animal left in me
to be soft or kind
but you never caged me

even when i was sick with
grief you held my hand
& brushed my hair &
kissed me till i laughed

i knew i loved you then
but i did not say it;
& here i am again
begging you to turn around

to see through the coward of me
to read my lips as they
whisper your name in prayer
the only word for love i know

i don't want this crossroad to
be our graveyard;
let us go out into the night & walk
a star-drunk orbit back home
i don't write very often about love or heartbreak; so here's something that combines the two
Jul 2019 · 109
beneath the cleaver
serpentinium Jul 2019
god
the kindly butcher
and you, lying
obediently on the table,
cleaved neatly in half,
your sinew and flesh cut by
the same hands that molded you from the river bank,
who cradled you in the arm of a spiral galaxy
just shy of a light gentle enough to reveal the
cave around you; now, there is only
an unfurling map to the
star-speckled wings of space
that roost in every dying
cell of you.

time passes until the
begetting,
the ending,
the abandoning,
your body now bearing the marks of
a believer swallowed by tragedy:
a noah who drowns in the tempest
a jonah eaten by a great fish
a job who dies in pain and poverty--
and you
a death in slow motion.
Jun 2019 · 168
premature
serpentinium Jun 2019
when death casts its long shadow / when you kneel to it in a grave / head bowed, fingertips aching for something that lies beyond the dirt / is this too a kind of prayer?

a malediction spoken between the fragile stems of chrysanthemums / wing-clipped moths sedentary against the empty coffin / a rotting in progress / a funeral prepared, a body unburied, a grief that could swallow the world.

call it armageddon / call it a girl in agony / call it the act of dying slowly.

make it an act of rebellion / make the heavens fall / in a sheet of rain as sharp as silver spears / so that even the divine know your name / and the earth shakes at your passing.

the result: a redistribution of matter gone wrong / more of you left in the space where your molecules once were / a ghost that can be touched / a ghost that doesn’t know it has died / a girl turned tragedy turned monster turned memory.
Apr 2019 · 100
a garden is not a home
serpentinium Apr 2019
When Choice met me at the door,
I cowered from her,
turned away to my own shadow,
its fetal shape mimicking a home
I have long outgrown.

It is poison,
yet I allowed my roots to usurp
the terra cotta, an insidious hand
in my own downfall,
my own asphyxiation wrought
by avalanches of dirt.

When Choice met me at the door,
I did not go with her as a lamb;
I left kicking and screaming,
crying for all that I did not do—could
not do in the span of a year.

I was a madwoman,
a stranger making deals with demons
at crossroads,
& never taking either path;
perhaps that is what real madness is—
the desire to never be given a choice,
a life divorced from autonomy.
Apr 2019 · 100
the truth about honey bees
serpentinium Apr 2019
The bee, a mind within
a labyrinth of minds,
can tell the difference
between one and zero
between less and more
between something and nothing
at all—
isn’t that tragic?

To be unable to
tell judgment from justice,
good from evil,
days from weeks,
but feel the emptiness
buzzing, a Morse code
heavy in
your wings: beware,
beware,
be aware that you
will die.

Do they mourn their dead?
The loss of a synapse in
their hive mind, a portly
black-and-yellow exit sign,
leaving the honey yellow
stage of this mortal coil
with a final ****** of a sword,
a piece of yourself
lost in the soft flesh of
your killer,
a suicide wound.

Perhaps we have more in
common with bees than
we would like;
living
in service to another,
mistaking revenge as
justice, giving away the
best parts of ourselves
until nothing
remains, just the puncture
marks of our existence
writ in tombstones.
read an interesting scientific article about what bees know
Apr 2019 · 126
what frogs dream of
serpentinium Apr 2019
If only I could drink down the rain
& become
a tadpole, blind to the river I was
born in.
A creature in metamorphosis,
small & fragile,
unaware of anything but the
water,
the embrace of a gentle current
softly
guiding me home.
trying shorter pieces for national poetry month. in this way i'm forced to choose my words carefully for the sake of brevity... it's an interesting experiment at the very least
Apr 2019 · 119
Family History
serpentinium Apr 2019
I. A gene for combustion
passed down through summers
spent fishing mud-slick tributaries,
cultivating a taste for wildness
wiggling on metal hooks,
sun-bleached shells
cracking at the weight of
tar-speckled teeth;
an animal made supine,
made to mold like clay,
a carcass of love

II. thrown into a kiln,
now discarded, abandoned
hungry maggots taken to flesh,
burrowing in the soft, hidden places
where viscera meets homesickness
where memory becomes gun smoke
and home—the place where
I sweep up the broken pieces
of pottery—becomes a grave.


III. Here lies a familiar body:
bleached bone as kindling,
a house pregnant with smoke,
then fire;
this is where all
witch hunts begin—
woman made child
made martyr
made monster
made firewood,
a temporary shelter,
not a fire to be prayed to.

IV. Burning.
Morning star plummeting,
oxygen-rich, dying poor
on a back porch, basket of
vipers spilling out like kerosene
and into the woods—
a brushfire
voice of God burning
through the screen door saying
“He wept.”

V. I named the fallen star
Lazarus;
dead but not dead,
reborn in the face of my
father  
who stares
into the 500-mile long
reflection in the rearview mirror
of his ash-colored Chevy
to a place God-touched
and wild.

VII. He tucks the lion parts
of himself in the furnace,
shedding glory for loss:
to lose the rattle of the caged
animal in his chest,
the fires that hunger for more
than the pines,
to sleep without dreams of
funeral pyres covered in
snakes.

VIII. Today,
I am a ghost caught in daylight
here and not here
mind on fire
facing Lazarus in the hallway
hospital gown as yellow as
sulfur,
charcoal staining his lips
while I burst into flame,
burning screams,
a mirror’s reflection
of the worst
parts of himself.
Feb 2019 · 1.5k
omnia mea mecum porto
serpentinium Feb 2019
storytelling was god’s first gift
to humanity,
a way to embalm our histories,
to dress them up
just as a mortician might paint
the dead
to give the illusion of life—
the mirage of
immortality on our own terms.

and so we become this patchwork of stories,
tales sewn into
the very fabric of human existence like
some great cosmic
game of telephone stretching across
13,000 generations
of **** sapiens who lived and loved
under the same
canopy of distant, blazing stars.

but like the stars, we too die; we
collapse upon
ourselves, upon the weight of
our genetic code
spooled out and stretched like thread
until there is
nothing left to give—no more DNA
to copy, just an
empty tomb, the stone rolled away.

if only death were a simple thing,
like how our brains
can go on autopilot on our commute to work.
i’d love for us to
be able to hand money to the bus driver
and say, smiling,
“all that is mine i carry with me,”
and board the
bus heading to Somewhere empty-handed.

in this fear of a Somewhere, we’ve
turned god’s
gift into a weapon, sharpened
our walking
sticks into spears, melted our
shields into
double-edged swords, named
one side faith
and the other side belief.  

we cut down those whose beliefs
are different
from ours without exception, as if billions
of years ago
we weren’t all carbon and hydrogen atoms
bonded
together, spinning slowly in the dark expanse of
a frigid universe,
the very foundation of the celestial blueprint.

as if millions of years ago we weren’t
a family
huddled by a fire while the fifth Ice Age
raged on
outside, making glaciers out of  mountains.
we sat together
and swapped stories, painting our lives on
cave walls
using sticks and crushed beetle shells.

in this century, we collect new converts like
captured pawns
on a chessboard, as if belief is a battlefield and
the price of
doubt is a one-way bus pass to a Somewhere
that tastes
like brimstone, milk, and honey licked clean
from a lion’s
ribcage: a hint of ash mixed with sweetness.

because all evil carries a hint of god,
doesn’t it?
he made figs and floods, broom trees
and plagues,
trumpets and leprosy, blessings and
curses. at night we
fear that no amount of weeping or
new covenants
will make the scales fall from our eyes.

so humans, in our finite wisdom
can only
say, “all that is mine i carry with me,”
and pray
to Yeshua, the deliverer, to Adonai, the
Lord, and
rest on the seventh day of our rebirth
so we can
wake at dawn and see that it was good.

some days we can be like Jonah in the
belly of a fish,
wise Solomon on his golden throne lined
with idols, Job
who cursed the day of his birth with every
breath, Naomi
whose bitterness begot the still-born name Mara,
so long as we
remember to carry that which belongs only to us:

love.
Jan 2019 · 207
to: the ocean
serpentinium Jan 2019
& that is the riddle of life,
isn’t it?
to be living water, a sloshing
riptide that
dashes itself upon the rocks,
here &
then gone—like all good things.
like us.

go headfirst into the waves, diving,
diving down
into the murky dark where fear once
lived, now
a barren sea cavern, a mausoleum
made to
collapse. but know it is no place to rest,
my dear.

swim further, let the salt carry
us somewhere
that our tired bodies can call
a home.
where the waves sing a sweet
whale song
& we sleep, we sleep, we sleep.
serpentinium Jan 2019
i am an animal,
a thing once born
in a Garden,
hissing at this
bronze statue of you,
my venom dripping
down pierced palms.

i am an animal
searching in the
wilderness for you,
hungry, half-mad,
walking to-and-fro,
wondering if my blistered
feet mean anything to you.

i am an animal
drunk on the
blood of you.
i drink up your essence,
the taste of smoke &
honey clinging to my tongue
even as i choke on your name.

i am an animal,
but i still pray to you &
your empty shrines;
a habit, a ritual, i say
to no one in particular; somewhere,
a bird caws three times.
“liar, liar, liar.”

i am an animal
& i rest in the shade of a
white broom tree waiting for
the sound of wings. i awaken
at sunrise to feathers in my
hair, hunger and thirst
gone from me. i weep.
2019 has begun in grief, but i still hold out hope in what lies beyond me.
serpentinium Aug 2018
clouded by home,
you troubled people
ask and destroy lives
to remake despair.

the power put in his hands
silenced her into that
familiar trap.

“i should have let her go.”

but he began attempting the
impossible, so used to looking
at the Gorgon, afraid to face
the sacrifice tightening
under his head.

“tomorrow?”

“dearest—!”

she flooded his heart with
goodbye.
done via black-out poetry using pg. 209 of ‘The Age of Innocence’
serpentinium Jul 2018
pompeii runs through our veins,
hot with the taste of ash & decay.

some of us are fortunate enough to
become ruins; others are ruinous,
sepulchers of epidemics, air-born, contagious.
a disease that could make London a cemetery.

we dress ourselves up like relics, clothed
in silk and gold and gossamer,
as if they could one day be armor.
as if they could bring us safety.
as if we deserve such things when everything we touch rusts.

it takes only twenty-two years for the
average person to realize they are a weapon.
that words are knives and actions are razor blades,
as if to remind the living that we
came into the world screaming—
and we have never been silent since.

we are the Morrigans, the cursed women,
those whose destiny is entwined with death.
we court death, invite her to our dinner table every night,
let her sleep in the guest room, leave the doors and
windows unlocked for her.

death, we realize as women forced to bear
the weight of the dead on our shoulders,
never comes as a thief.
she comes as a lover, smelling of lilac, a grin
too white and too large to be human.

still, we invite her in,
because even death, regardless of form,
makes for better company than the empty dark.
inspired by the line: we are naught but rot and ruin.
Jul 2018 · 688
what was born that day?
serpentinium Jul 2018
i. there’s a girl. narrow-*****, wild hair like a lion’s mane, sprawled underneath the shade of a looming fig tree. her teeth are all that’s sharp about her. soft curves, soft lips, a soft paradox in the Garden. in this lost land, there she is, subtle and tinged with the same stardust you once believed could save us all.

angelic, you’d call her, if she looked more grotesque. more like the cherubim of ol’, dressed in flames, impaled on swords, screeching the name “hosanna, hosanna” without mouths. but there are no wings, no heavenly trumpets, just the afterimage of divinity– something laced with hope, but already rotting. she spits out seven seeds and you don’t know if this is a land of God or gods anymore.

ii. she smiles and it feels like death.

you are unable to solve the riddle sprung from the lion’s ribcage– but the roof of your mouth tastes like honey and blood and you don’t mind. there’s no linearity, no familiar whine of a donkey, nor the sound of sand against gravel or sandaled feet marred by sunburns and blisters.

there is simply you and her and an eternity of possibilities that whisper in a forked tongue, “adam, oh adam,” and your heart drops. is this the end? but it tastes so sweet and you are alright to die like this, cradled between what was once in your womb and a creature of scales.

you do not expect the guilt that drips down your chin with each rivulet of juice.

iii. they call it love.
you call it divine absolution.
she calls it the beginning of humanity.
idk sometimes i think about eve like a lot
Jun 2018 · 7.1k
N E U R O N
serpentinium Jun 2018
distant ships sailing through the
pink crests of brain matter  
brimming with cargo; the unit
of knowledge burrowed in flesh
unable to feel pain, passing the
sensation on skulled flags—beware,
remember, know that these things
can haunt you.

(know that these things may one
day heal you)

this is who you are now: yellow,
sunflowers wreathed in knotted strands
of wheat-colored hair, pill bottles
half-full, hands like rotting fly traps
curled in supplication on a
Thursday morning when the pain is
too much to bear alone.

this is who you will always be: a series
of binary sparks, a long silvery tunnel,
streetcars laden with passengers
weaned on anger & fear & love--
a construction site.

you are a work in progress.
the definition of a neuron from a neuroscientist
serpentinium May 2018
If I am to drown,
I hope to march headfirst
into the sea, disappearing
under the waves in a lure of
golden fish scales,
crushed to the bottom
by bullet-shaped weights.

I want a death by mystery,
to wash ashore one April morning,
bloated & violet, fingernails stained
with yellow seaweed.

I was once rainwater clutched in
the milk-white teeth of a crashing wave,
black storm clouds crackling with
lightning bolts of who I was and
who I could never be.

I wake with seawater in my mouth,
a cruel simulacrum of
living water, staining my lips & neck
in the color of overripe plums.

I am water immobile,
molecules frozen in crystalline figures,
waiting for the warmth of choice, of
knowing that my fate can be more than
dead at twenty-seven to thaw my
aching limbs.
i think about water a lot...
May 2018 · 149
bloom(ed)
serpentinium May 2018
once upon a time,
i collapsed, maw split
open like a peach,
sowing seeds of doubt
in the darkness of space.
just a small scrap of something i can’t quite figure out
Apr 2018 · 263
evolution
serpentinium Apr 2018
the innocence of youth,
however brief,
remains
sheltered in
the deep sulci of the
brain;
hidden,
almost forgotten,
like vestigial organs that
mark
a species’ ancestry,
as if to say:
this is who i am,
who i was.
Feb 2018 · 291
benediction
serpentinium Feb 2018
and what is there to fear
in the refuge of bedrock,
in the embrace of flaming
sword and iron shield,
in bronze hands that
cradled us when we
were but dust beneath
a night sky filled with
stars,
who spoke past the
rivulets of time to
forge seas from the
embers of dying stars
and unfurled entropy
into a flat sheet across
an ever expanding universe,
of a god who, looking at
angels with wings the
size of galaxies, sought
to make a home for
a host of insignificant
creations instead,
whose lives could be
measured out in grains
of sand, spooled in mitotic
spindles of telomeres,
fragile pieces of DNA
covered with the fingerprints
of divinity.
i like science, i like god, i like writing poems that incorporate both!
Feb 2018 · 636
triumvirate
serpentinium Feb 2018
i. lionhearted girl
with teeth and ambitions bared
in a gentle heart.

ii. the strongest metals
between iron and silver
are your elements.

iii. a force of nature
like a warm ray of sunshine
on a winter day.
just some galentine's haikus for my 3 favorite gals!!
Jan 2018 · 3.7k
Herculaneum in Two Hours
serpentinium Jan 2018
I remember a dog with matted fur lounging in the shade
of a collapsed arch, staring in a way that animals sometime
stare that makes me wonder if the beliefs of Kantianism are
nothing more than old wives’ tales spun from smoke and cinder.

I remember the faint smell of sulfur mixed with seawater
in the shadow of the volcano that poured out its wrath
by the bowlful, the golden urns of the gods spilling
fire and magma from the very cradle of hell.

I remember the empty bathhouses, the villas with
half-painted frescoes, the expensive red paints made from
crushed beetle shells, the overturned tables and chairs,
the uneven stone streets carved by horse-drawn cart wheels.

I remember the skeletons huddled in boathouses,
unearthed from their ash-spun graves for prying eyes,
for the rapid shutter of camera lenses, for the proof
of their existence, as if to leer at the living and say,

“We are all nothing but carbon and bone.”
i really enjoyed seeing the ruins of pompeii and herculaneum
Dec 2017 · 298
origins
serpentinium Dec 2017
it goes something like this:

(god the maker. jesus the carpenter. holy spirit the healer.)

god wills your atoms into existence,
the crashing echoes of collapsing stars
mapping the pulse of the newborn universe.

pockets of time push through black holes,
ordained to swallow the dark by a being
bathed in holiness.

the heavens are pinned into place on a
twinkling backdrop of fire, planet-making
material spread like a celestial blueprint.

“this is where my most beloved will live,” god
says, mouthless but firm, words dripping with
the first vestiges of life.

the angels crowd the first life form, shouting a collection of
“hosanna on the highest” and “glory, glory, glory,”
singing on wings the size of galaxies.

later, when the passage of time leads to
two-legged mammals, when humanity is breathed from dirt,
and then from rib, the angels are silent with awe.

god, jesus, the holy spirit, sees the world and it is good.
god, jesus, the holy spirit, sees humanity and it is good.
god, jesus, the holy spirit, sees you and it is good.
christmas always makes me nostalgic
Dec 2017 · 366
how to grow up
serpentinium Dec 2017
momma said she found me
ten steps from heaven’s porch,
nestled in bloodied saw grass, flickering
fireflies circlin’ like anxious cherubs.

i forgot what i was doing out there—
waist-deep between heaven and hell,
sleeping in Shiloh where bones
rattle and beetle shells fixed with chitin
hum steadily in the dead heat.

“you too young to die,” she says to me,
face all red and sunburned and marred
with tears. sadness becomes a part of her,
alongside mother, and farmhand, and guilt,
and miracle.

my memories slip past me on copper scales,
swimming underneath the current. i am ten
again, wading in the river, pockets full of
rocks and sea glass. i am twenty and the river
has become a fragile stream. i am thirty and
there is nothing but dirt.

i feel my childhood bleeding out of me,
a mix of red crayons, red paper plates
cradling birthday cakes, red kick-*****
at recess, red tulips pressed into my
sister’s cold hands.

momma said she found me
ten steps from heaven’s porch,
just out of reach of the lamplight,
where i left my childhood.
adolescence to adulthood is a tricky thing
Sep 2017 · 278
( eulogy for peter )
serpentinium Sep 2017
“quo vadis, domine?”

i. you’re saint peter on a cross,
hung upside-down, staring at the
bright blue and if your arms
weren’t pinned to rotting wood
you’d reach out—

(petrus, dear petrus, why
hast thou forsaken me?)

there’s iron in your grip,
fingers curled in supplication
as you, the fisherman from Bethsaida,
bears only his own sins

the pain fades for a moment
under the sunlight and  
you’d smile if your lips didn’t bleed
at the harsh stretch of skin

they poke your side with a spear,
but only red pours out and the
barren ground below you will receive
no nourishment

you are no god, no holy deity
walking to and fro amongst mortals

(O’ you of little faith, why did you doubt?)

martyr, martyr they’ll chime with each
bell toll, thousands of years from now—
long after your body has perished in
the valley between ***** and Gomorrah

you are simon peter, the betrayer, the liar, the
coward
you are oh so human, and the world will
never forgive you for it
bedrock, they’ll call you, and mean it

you’ll be hailed a saint and people will kiss
your bronze image, dust oil against leaden
feet and imagine that your gaze is not fixed
solemnly to the earth

(now, nothing but a false idol to some,
draped in velvet and handed a crown—
the rooster crows, and so god too will
denounce your existence)
peter's one of my favorite disciples so here have a poem about him
Aug 2017 · 260
creation(ism)
serpentinium Aug 2017
cre·a·tion·ism
/krēˈāSHəˌnizəm/

noun

1. did you know we were all stars once?

2. our brains string together branching stars like fairy lights, beacons through the uncharted darkness of humanity's last frontier. the brave wear armor made of starched nylon, wielding scalpels as they forage through the shells of asteroids, the red of dying planets, to find the origins of Adam.

3. they only find shallow graves. decaying neurons grow cold, silver, myelin pooling into tear-stained letters written by trembling hands. forgotten keys. forgotten birthdays. forgotten names. stars collapse one by one, an orchestration of color and sound that feels familiar in its chaos, comforting-- like coming home.

4. they bury each burned-out galaxy with their bare hands. tomorrow,  they promise to the dirt and ash, tomorrow we will voyage to the edge of the universe, full of bright stars, and we will find a new hope.
inspired by my neuroscience textbook which said something along the lines of "there are more neurons in the brain than stars in the universe."
Jul 2017 · 772
an open love-letter to rome
serpentinium Jul 2017
i. once upon a time, there were old gods and new gods. under crumbling archways the divine and the cursed share cigarettes, lighters cupped in their hands. rain pours relentlessly from the heavens, falling to the uneven cobblestone in a sheen of silver spears and smoke. this time, nothing but prayers are shed.

ii. this is their communion: an errant hand brushes against the marbled form of Hades, rowboats rock harmlessly to the temple of Asclepius, feet shuffle across the white line and into the holy land. it is in these moments that solitude begets peace.

iii. angels tuck in their tired wings, roosting on bridges and cathedrals and alleyway corners spun with ivy. amongst themselves they count the crowds that take shelter in their shadows. every day, the numbers swell until even the loneliest of the celestial feel a warmth in their gilded chests.

iv. these same seneschals pour life through golden urns, as they had done eons before the she-wolf who nursed the founders of Roma was ever born. water flows steadily from all four rivers and through the eagle-face spics that dot the roads, blessed by frail, rosary-stained hands. even the Tiber, full of harsh currents and deep embankments, softens under the touch of a child at a fountain. life flourishes. the gods smile.

v. once upon a time, i met these cursed and divine and celestial beings. all lived together in a city as old as time itself, in a city born from clay, then wrought with brick, and finished in marble. and in this place of impossibilities, i found my heart.
.
.

i found my home
i spent six weeks in rome and nothing will ever compare.
Mar 2017 · 286
the first family
serpentinium Mar 2017
if only i had shown more love,
eve thinks, calloused hands brushing
dirt upon her baby boy.

adam sits tired in the field,
sweat dripping like blood down
his brow as he thinks O' this
sorrow must be what death
feels like.

cain collapses somewhere between
eden and nowhere, the taste of
copper haunting the back of his
throat.

abel, clothed in light, lets out a laugh.
it echoes to earth like the thud of a
sacrifice He did not ask for.

- the first family
Jun 2016 · 317
( my name was Apollyon )
serpentinium Jun 2016
this is the godless territory of lesser
beings,
or so i’ve been told; wingless movement,
serpentine
against mosaic tile, bellies cut open by the
sins
of man– such a pitiless misfortune of unkempt
pride.

this is neither heaven nor hell but something wholly
in-between,
purgatory surrounded by faceless skin walkers,
starched
by their infinitesimally short lives and i, among them,
walk
to and fro, just as forsaken as they, with this knowledge to
bear.

their lives are kept in a cycle of dust, clenched in bloodied
hands,
molded not like potter’s clay as i was told– no, they are
wild,
petulant things, so full of ideas and wit and horrible will;
teetering
somewhere on the edge of an oblivion of fire or
light.

i miss my many eyes and tongues of fire and gossamer wings
painfully,
there is an emptiness in my eggshell skull that yearns to
break,
to pour out vengeance in bowlfuls, to chant amongst the
others,
to hear my all-knowing kin as they blow their trumpets to signal
armageddon.
i really like the idea of angels...
serpentinium May 2016
why was rome
built on bones?
hundreds of dead
caught by arrows or
blind cuts of steel
crowd the rivers,
the roads, the very
air and it is so so hard
to breathe–
every corner is a reminder
of public executions, outdoor
gallows, diving into shallow seas,
exsanguination in the roads till
red rivulets made new paths in
tempered cobblestone;
caesar was not the first man to
bring about pax *** bellum
to train armies to battle their own
hearts and find nothing there at all–
caesar falls,
rei republica falls,
rome falls
.
.
the dead do not become lazarus
i listened to an audiobook detailing julius caesar's life
May 2016 · 910
survivor's guilt
serpentinium May 2016
i’ve let ghosts grow
inside me for too long
in a greenhouse of self-deprecation

i fed them sunlight in the
form of grief, water in the form
of tears, and tilled soil with heartbreak

now, i will cut them at the root,
tear at the stems with my voice
until my hands are bloodied by thorns

i will no longer be diaphanous,
i will let my limbs stretch
and take up space

i am human
i am an original orchestration
of carbon and screams;

i was made to survive
you're so important, i promise.
May 2016 · 830
i think i loved you too
serpentinium May 2016
i didn’t understand you–
i don’t think anyone did.
i don’t think anyone could.

you were the wrath of the lamb
and the rib of Adam,
you were the burning cherubim by
the savage Garden,
you were Samael and Apollyon,
brooding in Gehenna  

you were a god and a devil,
and i’m afraid
that i never found out who
won, in the end.

when you loved me,
was it because you knew who
i was or was it because
you knew what i would become?
i've never been in love but i imagine it feels a little bit like this
May 2016 · 1.1k
curse of asclepius
serpentinium May 2016
advice for future doctors:

1. learn failure early.
you are not perfect,
and your patients need
you to be–

but you aren’t and all
those nights spent awake
will haunt you with ghosts
tucked in hospital gowns

2. learn empathy like it’s
your body under the scalpel,
your skin pulled back and
exposed under white light

scratch at invisible scars,
recall the feeling of metal
against your chest, and shiver
at the touch of another

3. learn to cry anywhere,
whether it be between
floors in a hospital
built like a morgue

or in your car, going
too fast with tired eyes
down an empty road that
you wouldn’t mind dying on
i'm only pre med-- but these are the thoughts i have so far
serpentinium May 2016
i was twelve when my aunt took me by the hand
and lead me like a dog across the cotton gin;

white teeth, white skin, white cotton–
it left a nausea in my stomach that i couldn’t place

i didn’t know, dear lord i didn’t know
why my dark skin hid under long sleeves in the dead of summer

my frame shook as i crouched in the warm field,
sweat pouring down my brow

i still remember pulling my hands away from the thistle,
a small drop of crimson beading against my thumb

i ****** and it was gone, copper leaden on my tongue,
an albatross hung snugly around my neck
my aunt is an *******
May 2016 · 457
time is a good soldier
serpentinium May 2016
19 is a strange number
fumbling somewhere between
adolescence and adulthood;

it is neither quiet nor loud,
a paradoxical misstep down
the path to Shiol

19 is a forgotten year,
buried under college-ruled
paper and lectures

it is the scent of petrichor,
a yearning for something
once seen but abandoned

19 is a dull ache at your breast,
one that even a photograph
cannot remedy– it is melancholy
May 2016 · 640
those betrayed by aeolus
serpentinium May 2016
i. smile, they’re watching
–lips part, pink toes curl
against flat carpet;
what a performance

ii. wipe the disgrace
from your brow,
flick it behind your
shoulder; let it follow
on the ground as a
groveling shadow

iii. you see your reflection;
just another ship in a bottle,
with brown eyes and a temper
to match the sea

iv. lights beat against
bruised eyelids,
no sleep, no sleep,
you hush to yourself,
fingers pressed against
the neck of a bottle

v. this is a nod to sycophants
stuck with broken ships,
who, at some point, unfurled
their sails and found no gale
May 2016 · 603
samson was a liar
serpentinium May 2016
it is often in the face
of adversity that people
flourish, pushing past
cement and brick to bloom

or so you are told–
the lion you find is not
filled with honey,
and only sand scrapes your tongue

its ribs do not yield at your touch,
they do not fall apart
in ivory waves as you
crawl into its thoracic cavity

no, it is but a decaying relic of god;
a carcass left in the dirt
and you can’t help but wonder
how such a thing ever roared

you are no samson, but you
let your hair grow out anyway
and hope to coax strength
from the maw of the forgotten beast
May 2016 · 379
an excerpt about loneliness
serpentinium May 2016
you’re the sort of person
who cuts their fingers against
spiral notebooks

too soft, too shallow–
a reflection found by
Narcissus after an autumn shower

where even he could not
drown himself in your embrace

but you’ve only ever known hollow
things:
the quill of a plucked feather,
the darkness behind your eye-sockets,
the smile concealed by your teeth

it feasts upon you, this emptiness
like a chilopod’s unrhythmic gait against
your brain–
scooping up the patterned sulci
with its hungry pincers
until paradoxically, nothing, nihil
remains;

so how could you ever know
enough affection to
perform an intimacy like
death?
May 2016 · 244
eden is a happy place
serpentinium May 2016
dreams and ideations are
weaved into gold laurels,
tight circles of serpentine as they fall,

carelessly flung against railroad
tracks and burnt bridges
to be smothered by black smoke

you’ve got a habit of leaving
people behind– don’t you?
you laugh into the rings of ash

there’s a melecholy taste to
running away; it sticks against
the roof of your mouth,

past sharp teeth and soft flesh
and buries itself in your unyielding
throat like a parasite

you’ve become a host to these
horrors, shuffling day by day,
wondering, horribly, if this is all life is:

to be Atlas, and to hold the Heavens
prostrate against your back,
burdened by gods you do not believe in

— The End —