two rubber soles

ashes tryna burn through cotton
pierced a perfect circle in her canvas shoes
sketched a portrait of a hidden hemisphere
glossed 180 degrees behind his eyes
it smolders there longer than it should
peach fuzz sizzles on a hot grill
seared tinge of dna syrup sweeter
than lingering in bed on winter mornings

there’s skin underneath more than silver
& bones cauldron of flowers simmering
when she blushes she blooms sighs out
a house on fire drowns within itself
tried to save her once but the pain feels better
watching embers melt oil landscapes off walls
tried to save her twice but joint her instead
evidence in feeling crossed legs in bed

ashes burned through cotton:
two rubber soles
remain

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lilies in procession

I lit a fire and forgot it

and the smoke of its birth
creeps just beyond my shoulders,
like the reaper straining to check
if he got the right woman, and
he did.

inside a Greek cathedral, I’m
lighting a candle for my grandma Jean,
massive white walls stretching to
what would-be heaven and
stained-glass frescoes heralding
the new day yet to come,
the fingers of a deceased stranger
groping at the page of a scripture
I wrote myself and
I pull it closer to my heart
to show god that I do
care.

outside, a body burns on a pyre
as the rain dives down
as the newscasters promised us,
and every living soul in the world
attends to mourn this fallen angel
and all I can think is how he
looks like meat on a skewer,
being roasted for his non-sins.
I’m going to Hell, certainly,
when his turn is over;
that’s why I’m always so cold.

“we’re not immortal, we’re not” chants
the hooded man next to me.
yes, our ashes reek of sulfur,
don’t they, and the body,
unlike a taper, doesn’t burn even,
the stranger’s feet long gone
while the strings of his brain
snap like overworked rubberbands,
and we all can hear his last words,
a dampened recitation, a residual thud:
not yet.

what a world this is,
where you attend funerals
of friends of friends or the neighbor’s
sister or brother or mom or dad,
where you don’t know the name
until the pallbearer at the door
hands you a prayer card,
and after the viewing,
you sigh in your grave relief
that when the globe was spun,
it wasn’t you who the pin
landed on.

I didn’t kill this man
I didn’t even look at his throat
or wonder why he went.
I’m not sure the body was even a man’s,
but hoped he was plump while living
as his belly ballooned
and I thought of a dear, undeveloped
child in there, enjoying the cozy heat,
much-needed at the head
of winter.

all I did was light a fire
atop a candle
in memory of my dead grandma Jean
who I only remember by the cigarette smoke
permeating her couches and cardigans,=
who I only remember for the secondhand
babydolls she’d gift to me
for the sugared orange slices in
frosted glass dishes on her cluttered
coffee tables,

but I never knew her voice or her face,
like a fire I lit with eyes closed
and then walked away
I forgot she lived once,
thinking and feeling
pulling over layers of clothes
and crosses to keep warm
and fearing that it will never be enough
like I do, like I will,
ignoring the smoke streaming,
the days as they fall from the calendar,
a flame invincible to holy water
and kindled by breath.