(Skull) No. 1

You bare your cracked mouth
in a yellowing arc of bone.
I shine my worn eyes white
on you – pared and slender man,
and in your sockets’ sink-basin shadows
see my own drawn heart.

My gestures dwindle like the heart
of a skeleton; your broken mouth
makes my fingers half a shadow
of slim cigarette bone.
and I can’t wrap their secrets like a dead man
would – you rolled them tight and white.


If I could, I’d gnaw your white
bone-arm until my teeth were stiff with the salt heart
of it – if I could know your old man’s
Rosetta code, the chiseled alphabet you mouth,
I’d read your vertebrae until their raised bone
glyphs rubbed my fingers down to the shadow.

But I’m not so brave, so shadow-
less, to build as full a frame as your strong white
one, where there was only the head bone –
that flawed bowl, glued like a heart,
or a model airplane, a hinged and clasped mouth,
the jewelry box of a bereft man.

I have only a container, one that’s lost its man
to a circling, circular shadow.
Now it holds my strangeness, this dull mouth
and cold semblance of a white
and bloodless, dried out heart.
Aside from that, it’s not that bad a bone –

Your stark lantern-jaw of bone,
that seems to be as loose as any man’s,
gapes for my kiss; the lost heart
of your rot, that grows in the shadows;
and the burnished, burnt white
of your cold and lipless mouth.

I admit it, dry bone – you’ve shown me your shadow.
I see the remnant of man in your sandblasted white.
To subvert my heart, I’ll open what’s left of my mouth.

Published by

R. Brookes McKenzie

what fresh hell is this

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