A babbling stream of defeat.


are you tired of being human? step right up to the plate get a full transplant brain scan artificial neural examiner corporate benefactor coming to give you all you ever dreamed of, it’s real, all real, except everything i say is a lie, it’s real, it’s real…

strong coffee at 4 AM, alone, trying to remember if I ever felt this way before; yes, in the summer of 2013, I almost killed myself by the stream in the ravine next to my childhood home, a single sunbeam whispering foolishness into my eardrums, the sound of bubbling water and the ancient dream of clay that my sister and I discovered here, probably twenty years ago now, Jesus.

Saved, yes I was saved that summer, by the grandfather, he told us in gravelly tones, glassy eyes, soft skin, desperate faith, that we were his children, he had no hope left, save in us, and I felt something, i felt addressed; hey, was he talking to me, his eyes said yes, glassy eyes said yes

that day, maybe day before, maybe day after, something visited, sitting quietly; said, “be here with me,” and Lord—

I promised “I will,” even though I knew it was a promise I would break over, and over, and over again, a promise that would someday undo me, as it’s doing now

i went to school, o i went to school, i went to school in the city, i bought myself a shiny new suit of skin, i loved the way it looked, it was a lovely betrayal

i went to school, o i went to school, i went to school in the city; two people saw through the suit, i call them friends, a clown poet yogi and an underworld-sensitive artist

i went to school, o i went to school, i went to school in the city; i learned how to delude myself when everyone was watching, what a trick! i learned how to fake my own death, i learned how to fake my own life, then i learned how to die, fortunately

i learned how to die, but i haven’t learned how to own my dying.

there are many deaths, but this one is mine.

it is ongoing

lately, death has flooded the basement

now my feet are wet, and i am sick

i can’t get up to say hello without sneezing

certainly not inviting anyone in.

shiny new suit lost its gleam neither new nor shiny no more

turned threadbare in the chest, yes it did, last year that’s 2015

people saw through the shine, saw the self-hate before i could

they told me about it, bless them, i didn’t know how to react, who knows how to react when someone tells the truth

basement still flooded, got a lame suit, no job prospects, trying my best to ignore it all, trying my best to remember how the suit looked and cover that hole over the heart

but last year i came to a place i never been to before

a place that’s got nature, yes, it’s got nature and its got people with badgers in their eyes and sturgeons in their minds, they’re naked beautiful questions

seven thousand five hundred kilometres from home, what was once home, where’s home?

but last year i came to a place i never been to before, a place i hesitate to name, not because it’s different, not because it deserves mystery, but because i can’t

ain’t no names for something bigger than that old box of language.

last year i came to a place i never been to before, it called to a dead king, some arbiter, a man in me i killed off years before, but he was just a child emperor, screw him

he came back to life, fuck that little prince; he groaned in a voice i hate, sweet-not-gravelly, young, unsentimental, full of infant promise and courage more than i ever knew, strength too, but unseen

he asks for his throne back, the one i’ve been sitting on playing videogames, the one i’ve been sitting on with my shiny new suit browsing LinkedIn and finding work in the city, the one i’ve been sitting on messaging girls on Tinder and Facebook and the one i’ve been sitting on diffusing myself then suffering the consequences without knowing why

too young for the throne, too young, i glared at him, i shouted at him with hate, threadbare suit revealing scars at long-last, that old hole in the chest wet with tears, has been for years, but he knows that better than anyone

he just looks at me, he’s sitting up straight, calm, i don’t know how he survived, now he’s looking at the basement floor; his eyes find a moldy page, he looks tired

he asks for his throne back, says it was made for him; me and my suit can’t fit, we’re too much in the world, too full of shit and bystanders and weakness and distraction

i’m lost, i tell him, surprised at exhaustion

i know, he smiles sadly, you’ve been fucked up on drama, pouring your anger into the rivers, you’ve woven baskets on the banks singing songs and given the baskets away to false idols, you needed them to survive; you don’t remember who i am, how we were together?

molasses, voice tells him yes, yes i fell in love last year; the king nods, of course he knew, i continue

i fell in love, in the flooded basement, wearing my threadbare suit, on your throne, i didn’t know what it was, never was destroyed before, never had someone destroyed before me, never embraced a destroyed person as a destroyed person, never felt so effortless, never knew so little

you did though, he replies, sloshing through the waters, approaching the throne — god how did we get so tired — when you were younger, when we were the same size, same age; brother, we could fit on this throne together, don’t you remember, i’d whisper secrets to you and you would treasure them, share them with others in experience or poetry; you’d look back at me and wink, gratitude writing a blank cheque on your eyes, you loved me, and I loved you

“it couldn’t go on forever,” comes an almost-whisper, helpless hopeless, “people didn’t understand what you saw, didn’t keep your secrets like gems under the mountain of language and hiding places, i certainly didn’t, what are you doing now — suddenly i’m afraid — you forgiving me?”

“no,” he says quietly. he’s next to the throne now. “You forgive yourself, that’s how it works. I just want my throne back.”

angry, tired of being human, unable to love myself less, having tried to love myself in all the wrong ways, now lying defeated, spiritually defeated, shouting,

i give in, give up, i cede the throne