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Mackenzie Leigh Oct 2011
In a blanket of breath now pleasantly swathed
Our bodies made broken; prostrate in the fog
Exhumed from the boughs of tree-tops so balmy
On alabaster bones that tremble quite calmly
With thoughts of tomorrow, our miasmic today
That in wistful contemplation is thoroughly dismayed
Like the sullen, windy chimes of a church bell that rings
In the hardened heart of winter, on frost-bitten strings
Which frail, arboreal appendages, with nimble purposes pluck
To indulge the dulcet beds, in which our thoughts are tucked
In a licentious yawn that drifts, from scentless, sleepy shrouds
Like azure ships now sailing, through lofty, lilting clouds
Our pendulous hands still pawning these passionate decrees
With fervent fears to consummate your swiftly slumbered vestige
Atop my flesh, all slick with sweat, and in shadows sorely rapt
The mellifluous hum of reverent sight, through keyholes quickened pass
My heart is estranged from the banal constraint of this stagnant mortal coil
Held aloft in the piercing plea of love’s unbidden toil
All visions captive to the subtle sway of your chest now undulating
Like waves that crash, in rhythms vast; my thoughts, they are invading
Urgency deemed, from unconscious form, in sharp pangs of desire
The crease between your lips, the hand heavy on my hip: the nuances in which I am mired
The idiosyncrasies of you like a poem that is repeatedly folded
And jettisoned into my open mind, where these precious admissions molded
Taking form in tangible caress, to envelop with silken shivers
On the sill of windows wide where lonesome flowers withered
Thus proffered throat, in porcelain quiver, where stilted lungs concealed
In tear-wrought arrows, tempered and true, fly with errant zeal
To pin my ruminant heart upon this ragged, beggar’s sleeve
And chain my weightless body, from where it floats among the eaves
Mackenzie Leigh Oct 2011
Oh, happiness, you know, is such a mystery to me
For my sweet mind, so nubile, now tempted and teased
In daisy chains constrained, becomes unflaggingly naïve
Amidst hopeless, hungry caricatures of a fresh, degenerate breed---
It is these sad amalgamations of cynicism and greed
That beg so caustically for my poor pauper’s decree
Wholly, humbly, in morally hazardous beseech
Reminding me that I will never be exempt from this disease

Because a bird that has for all its life been caged
Would know not, in freedom’s grasp, just how it should behave
And I imagine, most ignorantly, would haplessly spend its days
Flying in circles above the cold cell in which it was once contained
For it is the fear within that forbids us from ever wandering astray
Not, as we convince ourselves, those despicably tangible restraints
But the prejudices and prospects upon which we were raised
The unforgiving pathways of a pre-determined fate

Well, I’d rather die simply, dreaming wistfully instead
Because even the corporeal hand of freedom is ghostly akin to lead
The poison in my veins that leaves me ****** and unfed
It can scarcely compare to the beauty I’ve concocted in my head
And ‘fate,’ I admit, is something that I’ve come to quite dread
To think my end is not my own makes me wish that I was dead
To be voiceless and choiceless and paralyzed in my bed
A story that was written and never to be read

My existence will never course on a single, narrow line
And there will be many, many beds in which my loyalties lie
The destination may well be as crooked as the path the arrow flies
And for all of this uncertainty, I most assuredly will be fine
Because mark my words; let doubt not linger in mind
These cages and these pages will be now and forever mine
Just an arbitrary reaction to the hand-me-down destiny I’ve defied
The parameters I have made to covet all the corners of my life
Mackenzie Leigh Oct 2011
I still feel your breath on my neck sometimes
With that stiff, clinical hand that you placed upon my spine
Examining my face for harsh, worrisome lines
As I walked the chemical tightrope that exists only in mind

Now, still precariously balanced, still unanimously blamed
I'm holding out for your smile in each passing face
Though it's been years since they burned you in cold Virginian flames
I can still see you watching me through the windowpane

My name displaced in your mouth like some placid stone
The weight on your tongue silencing thoughts unknown
As your fingers nimble upon needles, weaving our winter clothes
Once slept in a box where your ashes now are stowed

You held no Catholic reservations, nor illusions implausibly sweet
And left me with no bullets to deliver from stolen grief
But sometimes, in my dreaming, you offer me reprieve
With skin so milky white, loose and starch like a sheet

I watched you behind that curtain, with satin on your back
In the flickering light of candles, where shadows often pass
And criss-cross in patterns, over blue eyes watery and vast
To ignite a glowing smirk, whose teeth do shimmer like glass

Your hair still wispy and short, the color of strawberries faint
Fallen in a gossamer crown, to covet your wrinkled face
You would take to me like a feather, and swath me in your immortal embrace
Speaking divinely of Heaven, and all your ghostly grace

With that kind, melodious laugh I have so terribly missed
Pressing rosebuds to my temple in a matriarchal kiss
A dream we were in, your wings reverently clipped
For a time, if only, I felt within your loving grip

You warned me not to be fooled, to make no mistake
You would have returned to your grave by the time that I should wake
With trembling fingers clinging tightly to your remains
Standing in your old room, the bed forever made

I remembered whispering in your ear, as your conscious mind wore thin
Life support wailing, the color drained from your lips
My fingers searching desperately for the pulse that was buried in your wrist
I told you I would never forget you: my precious, parting gift
Mackenzie Leigh Oct 2011
It was September when you closed your eyes.

The trees were verdant and fat,
Their boughs abuzz with the fluttering of birds;
The warmth of pre-autumnal breezes, pale and whispering:
“Alive, alive,” as the breath in your lungs.

I rarely contemplated your absence
Not for lack of trying, I assure you
It’s just hard to miss something you never really had
Not altogether impossible, but difficult, nonetheless

I could not miss you as my tongue
Could miss the taste of sugar sweet;
As my hand
Could miss the hand of a lover fair;
As my mind
Could miss the dulcet caress of poetry
Poignant and soft;
But I could miss you still, blood of my blood
As your presence should grace my thoughts faintly
Like some spectral invader---
A sometimes patriarch beguiled.

I dreamed of you the day mother informed me
Your eyes had finally opened.

The trees had worn thin by the time of my visitation
I could see them rapping between your blinds,
Scratching the glass in a hallowed colloquial,
The language of arboreal appendages fading:
“Alive, alive,” but just barely.

It was October.

Your days and dreams and dalliances
Compartmentalized into a series of sterile routines:
The steady drip of morphine
Into your veins;
The turning of your body,
In bed,
At the passing of each half day;
The fluids vacuumed,
From the hole in your throat,
At a quarter till every hour.

Your body became a clock, defected
Feebly measured in the perfunctory gasp
Of your heart’s meticulous monitor

It was just a week shy of November, and you were waning.

Haunted by those seventy-one years,
Long-lived, painfully slow,
Taunting you from the fraying end,
Of an agonizingly short rope---
Seventy-one years, and all it took
For the months to drop, skittering away,
Was the blink of a bloodshot eye.

It was October, but it should have been September.

That ruddy, porous grin,
The bullfrog blues of your grandfather’s smile,
Now made far and few between
By your unabashed lassitude,
By your hesitance to meet the gaze of another,
By your impatience at the sound of voices,
Talking about you like you weren't there.

You were a big guy, I noticed
I never realized how much so until I saw you
Laid up and sprawled unnaturally upon a hospital bed
Little more than an invalid,
Unable to lift a finger, even to catch
The choking, viscous saliva that would dribble,
Infantile and unbidden down your chin;
Unable to speak.

The catatonia fooled you, unbeknownst,
It pried the words from your swollen mouth
With skeletal, sable fingers,
Leaving penitent ghosts in their wake
So that your lips were moving, muttering,
Pressed with the phantom vocalizations
Of what half-formed apologies needled their way into your mind;
Of what no sounds produced
You even tried to tell me you loved me---
Though the affections never quite came to fruition,
I felt your taciturn ruminations, regardless.

I suppose that was a start.
You were near an end.
But it was a start, nevertheless.

Inhabiting the mere space of a windowpane
Inside of yourself as you were,
Your eyes remained outgoing:
At times they contained boredom,
At others longing or contempt,
And within those murky depths, I swear I recognized
The unshakeable, abject face of terror.

So much change for so little provocation:
The leaves outside, they rustled;
Cars continued their coming and going on distant highways;
The soothing azure of the day dampened,
Corroded by the cold, unrelenting hand of a changing season;
Gradually, the sun rose and fell.

It rose and fell:
(Your chest) rose and fell.
(Your face) rose and fell.
(Our hearts) rose and fell.
It always stayed the same.

And in your vacant, unwavering gaze,
Always something different:
The deathly vestige of repentance,
Folded between the window’s shade;
The laughing, lilting silhouette,
Of days forever passing;
And you, unmoving,
In that hospital bed,
A sharp juxtaposition to your caretakers
And their mock celebration:
“Alive, alive!”

But those saintly visitations of shadow and climate
Rapping against the window,
Waltzing across the far wall of your antiseptic prison,
They bespoke celebrations of their own,
Callous facts you knew all too well:

“It’s October, Tom. Autumn is here.
And you shouldn’t be.”
Mackenzie Leigh Oct 2011
In American night, our sins amended
Dwell sable souls from Cain descended
Their perforated grins, their degenerate heat
To cut bone-bred fissures upon cobbled streets
With wandering mouths, in lust will reap
The quivering lips, their thighs do weep

Bodies hum content in pleasure's psalms
On the glistening flesh of Gilead’s balm
No repentance sought, nor vice repelled
Tongues of Heaven do burn like Hell
Desires persist, and thoughts be ******
In the ebbing crest of this carnal demand

— The End —