from TOXIC SONNETS: A CROWN FOR JOHN KEATS
from Toxicon and Arachne, Nightboat Books, 2020
I read about the tubercle at night
and I went under. As a crime scene can excite
a drop of lumen to exude its hit of light, I shed wet
light. I wrap the motel room in light. I carry knives
bladed with sputum, and an instinct for spite
like a tree that reaches upward for the heat and wants to burn
or lay down in the slurry for the churn
to paper. Write me
down, chum me, make me into chyme,
spit me out to lay in sawdust like a germ
then burn me. I release a noxious smell.
Dose me with aminoglycocides
till I give in, then lay me in your litter.
I'm a threat to life.
I'm a threat to life, a violent butter.
I spread my toxic inklings like a cloud
-seeding-drone, & drop on crops my shake
of violet water. As the clotted vena cava
sucks dye for the camera, a violent thought
turns all my justs to anger. A fist of cloud
breaks the crowny crater, which vomits up
its own grand cru, palpates the sternum
of the sky for ulcerations. O fish in flume, resting
on your mutagenic breasts, who do you give
your milk to. O mouth that cannot close, oh planet cleft
what cache of weapons do you lean on as you dream
in your pleural cavity, desertified, depressed.
Bad host, you clutch your guest.
Bad host, you clutch your guest. Green seam
fluoresces in night vision, signature of
heat and flesh. Green ghost
lifts headline to the camera, proof of life
washed white by sudden flash. From satellite,
Earth turns on spit like a gut infloresced
with bad intentions. A god descends
with gifts of poetry and plague, he lights up
factory hens, a baffling intervention. They tote
their viral load on wheel, on wing, on breast,
transmigrate the globe and upload
souls to Heaven. O victor-bird, o vector,
I am like you, a non-state actor,
Death-fletched, alive, immune to all elixirs.
Death-fletched, alive, immune to all elixirs,
I sit like a drone pilot at a dock of screens.
My attention is a fang that sinks through plasma
like a toxic arrow or a tooth in Coke. I'm fine.
I'm sick. I grip a joy-stick. Outside, a pink
crust announces evening, buzzards ride
heat signatures at dusk. Inside, plasmodium
reshapes itself, now a slipper, now a gauntlet
tossed down in the gut, and now a Glock, a mouse,
a Mauser, the lucky cloud that mounts the hill
to breaks its blessing on the forehead of the bride
or the wedding guest who's dead
yet cocks his eye
at any light now breaking in the sky