Forfeiting My Mystique's image

Forfeiting My Mystique

It is pretty to be sweet

and full of pardon like

a flower perfuming the

hands that shred it, but

all piety leads to a single

point: the same paradise

where dead lab rats go.

If you live small you’ll

be resurrected with the

small, a whole planet

of minor gods simpering

in the weeds. I don’t know

anyone who would kill

anyone for me. As boys

my brother and I

would play love, me

drawing stars on

the soles of his feet,

him tickling my back.

Then we’d play harm,

him cataloging my sins

to the air, me throwing

him into furniture.

The algorithms for living

have always been

delicious and hollow,

like a beetle husk in a

spider’s paw. Hafez said

fear is the cheapest room

in a house, that we ought

to live in better

conditions. I would

happily trade all my

knowing for plusher

carpet, higher ceilings.

Some nights I force

my brain to dream me

Persian by listening

to old home movies

as I fall asleep. In the

mornings I open my eyes

and spoil the séance. Am I

forfeiting my mystique?

All bodies become sicker

bodies. This is a kind of object

permanence, a curse bent

around our scalps resembling

grace only at the tattered

edges. It’s so unsettling

to feel anything but good.

I wish I was only as cruel as

the first time I noticed

I was cruel, waving my tiny

shadow over a pond to scare

the copper minnows.

Rockabye, now I lay me

down, et cetera. The world

is what accumulates — 

the mouth full of meat,

the earth full of meat.

My grandfather

taught his parrot

the ninety-nine holy

names of God. Al-Muzil:

The Humiliator. Al-Waarith:

The Heir. Once, after

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