Words Burst the Thirteen Open

“I have nothing to say and I am saying it; that is poetry.” — Thirteen Words, John Cage

What it is or was mulled over like cheap wine
we drank although we didn’t know it and so we
called our passions sad mistakes and so refused
to comprehend but never mind it overall and if
you’re sorry that’s the price or so you say but
I was giving it free of charge in case you didn’t know

(grow old with me I said
as childishly I pulled you through the grass across the lawn
behind the backs
of those
who paid themselves to watch)

What it is or was and in the end became to be
because when I just happened to you accidents
can happen to love you and there’s nothing else
to say and my mistake was letting you believe
that I could accept nothing free of charge.

(grow close to me I said
as hopelessly I let you block the light across my soul
behind the house of cards
I built myself
to watch fall down)

Where do you think those words came from?
Did you think I was kidding?

Would I have struggled through this:
aborted our unborn children,
burnt our home together down with deliberate matches,
killed the part of me that made you love me
just so you could sleep easier knowing
it was one less decision you had to make?

Look, here is the moon you wanted!

In my worthless, bloodied hands you see it;
it is what you want, but my having it makes it dirty;
you look away – the sight of me
with your sky makes you weep.

I am the sacrilege in your dream.

Your emasculated knights could never bring it close,
the feeble soldiers for whom you feel appropriate,
but I have held it here with me for three months now,
fought dragons and returned near death,
in vain, to hang it on your wall.

Although you want it, you must not take it from me –
that would mean something, a commitment.
I refuse to let myself be shamed by your refusal
of it; it was not the moon at all you sought,
but mere reflection of it:
substance, not the style that hides it,
is the gift you turn from.

That is my flaw, that I have substance without style,
truth without flowers –
these are my bitter pills,
presented without their sugar armor.
What it is or could have or to have not anything
about will never weep my secrets:
I have cast myself into this pit
and wrenched my heart from where it was
and burnt it here upon the hearth –
for rather than the something different

something

I would have the nothing that we shared and then made sorrow
by denying
that it mattered, that it felt,
that it was real, that it was anything …
that it was everything.

Look, I can be more than just your mistake!
I can stop hurting, just like that!
I can deny that i will always love you!

I can look forward to Hell, where
I burn now for lying,
and you commit yourself like murder,
while we stand aside and watch ourselves
drowning in the fire.

1994

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