Rumpus Original Poetry: Three Poems by Michael Wasson

now tell me / we’ll make it
to the end / of our unanswerable lives / tell me how / the cities
will make our bodies / beautiful enough to forever / be locked
behind a glass cage / with our broken names / show my tongue
the only way / to dance until the whorl / of dark silk below
your belly- / button is as slick as the pink / of our animal
tongues / give me / the directions to a place / bursting with
mosquitoes—full of / welts & terrors you’ll always know / we’ll know
the coming / of someone’s jesus let’s call hunger / dear,
it’s the end / of winter so / sleep next to me until / the black
under our eyelids / is no longer the thinnest slip of skin
but the mid- / night of a country growing / before us
tell me this / will never ruin us / god, tell me / please.  
T H E    T H I R D    M E A S U R E    P A U S E D    &    S E T    T O    Y O U R    B R E A T H I N G
How might it feel to be a vessel
of light? Like a moon held in the throat
of the sky—a cold pressing the lips
enough to shatter the tongue
of any open mouth. How might it feel
to be so vanished
that any movement is
but a brief torch lighting
your scented ankles now
gone—a smear of
fire ignited in some-
body’s lost history. a foreshadow? The spine reaching
in both directions. a telling? The recipient of a 2018 NACF National Artist Fellowship in Literature and the 2017 Adrienne Rich Award, his poems appear in American Poets, Beloit Poetry Journal, Kenyon Review, Narrative, Poetry Northwest, and Best New Poets.      you desperate
desperate animals      run until you enter the earth       alive
you are       trust me. I swallow
what remains of the failing air
like a casket dissolving
over a god’s awful taste
buds. &laquo Previous post like this

Rumpus Original Poetry: Three Poems by Michael Wasson

By Michael Wasson
August 9th, 2018

 
 
 
T H E S E    S W A L L O W E D    P R A Y E R S    A S    C R E A T I O N    M Y T H
– wáaqo’ ’óykalana titóoqana hinéesmux̣sin ’ilcwéew’cixnim. Michael Wasson is the author of This American Ghost (YesYes Books, 2017). So how might it feel, Lord—
to live only behind
the teeth. The stars
unraveling from inside
the head. He is nimíipuu from the Nez Perce Reservation in Idaho. Leaving me
& you on the bedspread—side-
by-side—our bones never once touching
lost in orbit around tonight. Death pointing inward. Let me treasure
your touch enough to cave
my ribs in. More from this author → Lord
press your fingertips
into me.  
Y O U R    S T I L L – L I F E    I S    N O    L O N G E R    S T I L L
Your hands bright red as the skin / of the red delicious
we shredded / to taste what’s closest / to the core / this
isn’t the blood / of our newest ghosts / the snow
touching the skin / of only the living / will become
beads / of breakable sky / shiver, my dear— / for we are
soon to be so / gone / this same land is smearing / into
America / my hair smelling / of river water—is this
an omen? Somewhere
at the distance of centuries
your body could penetrate the skin
of my eyelid like this
until the ceiling of the house
burned away. & yet for ages we’ve been holding on
to this silence       as any child born I learn to move
these forsaken hands along the damp walls of this god-
less body       as if I too am your animal       the only torch
this monstrous heartbeat rippling everywhere & no-
where       I reach towards a blurred opening to the other
room      meaning a life-sized rupture left vibrating
like decades around a skeleton      listen—the xím xím
xím of the animals twists into your body      was made
to always hold you in place       & this you has come so far
so why not disappear       just this once       the ink
drowning the eyes       the bloodstream carrying the body
on & into the white noise of translation       & soon
this you tears open the brief sáw between its own ribcage
under a newer light       a fresh fracture like softened ear
bones ringing after another heavy rain of holy
gunfire       have I gone too far? To crush me
so gentle now that I am made
to be the very last light
gravity remembers.      I pray for I might enter back
to when we were all once singing láw láw láw      before
the jaws of ’ilcwéew’cix devoured us       as though a city
now vanished       we who built its bright-white cathedrals
of bone       & hear the dark—unlike any other       whispers
of our faceless gods buried into the flesh       every exit
a fire escape       the flexed diaphragm a pupil’s black-
lit aperture capturing the muzzled breath of our beloved
dead       & yet through the dead—here, your body inside
the body—is the only way out       isn’t it?