A Cheap Black Rosary

by Poetry

she taught me how to tie my hair back with a rosary;
this was when I was tired of learning –
like all the neurons had fired & all
the cerebral pathways had burned their
imprints in bloody membrane

when I wasn’t looking for a teacher
she arrived
with her casual blasphemies
wearing the crucifix between her breasts –
cheap, plywood, & with her sweat
the black dye trickled
& ran
until it stained us both

what do I do with it now,
left on the bedside table like
a ghost, a lost thing,
an abandoned dress tie or
discarded earring?

What did I do with it,
in the end? I draped it
over whiskey bottles like trophies
& occasionally drown in her.

It disturbs me, how the memories all come racing back to me; things I thought I’d forgotten suddenly exploding and made real by the simple act of emptying a drawer! Black ink smudging my fingers again, as it used to smudge my chest and stain my white t-shirts. My heart hammering again, simulating life and a younger man’s passions. All that lust, all that which could have been love; vanished now, gone, disappearing into the wasteland of Norwich, the last I’d heard.

How different I could have been, and what poisons I might have avoided or obtained, had I simply smiled, and broken a different heart, and followed your shape as it vanished into the depths of the train station, and left me – drunk and drinking again – another fool too caught up in his own conceptions of romance and love to know what romance and love mean to blood and to flesh.

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Swearing in Italian

I spend my days wrestling with angels,
gripping and grappling…

A Cheap Black Rosary

when I wasn’t looking for a teacher
she arrived
with her casual blasphemies
wearing the crucifix between her breasts –
cheap, plywood, & with her sweat
the black dye trickled