is a 29-year-old poet, based near Chicago. He studied Theology and Philosophy at Dominican University, and has appeared or is forthcoming in publications such as High Shelf Press, Snapdragon, Allegory Ridge, and Waxing & Waning, among others. His debut collection of poems entitled, “Well Into the Night” will be released by Energion Publications at the end of the year. Battling Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder since the age of five, he translates teardrops.
I’ll strive to have a soul that ages better
than my face, my body, an expensive
bottle of red wine. I’ll waltz with violin strings
and shiver with their ache into silence.
I’ll glow as I weep. Inject fireflies into
teardrops and hope the light doesn’t drown.
I’ll pray until the kingdom doesn’t come.
Dance with the unseen; crown it in an
inflection of murmurs and thorns, like a locust
tree whipping its head back in worship.
I’ll be in pieces, and peace will cement the
shards mosaic—how an awkward hug still has
warmth between it. I’ll believe a breaking heart
can be nourished by the quiet that follows a kiss.
I’ll stomach a shadow’s sermon, and if I
can’t see beauty in the darkness, I’ll declare
the dark as beautiful instead. I’ll be the
corrosion and the communion. My voice will
rise through the throat of the abyss. I’ll grab roots
like reins and ride a bloom to its color, drink from
the cup of a ghost’s longing, consume the collective
wince of the dead, and I’ll pull the appetite out of
nothingness like a rabbit out of a hat. I’ll say
my name that stings my lips until it knows it’s
a song, bleeding back into my veins.
What prophet is screaming along the streets
of my throat? Whose teardrops are in my eyes?
Who left a suicide letter on the table in one of the
valves of my heart? Who is sending messages through
the Morse code of my misfiring nerves? Who nailed a
list of damnations beneath my eyelids, like Luther on
a church door?
When I was five, I spilled fruit punch and punished
myself as if it were blood—smacked my face until
it was as red as the juice puddled on the floor.
When I was seventeen at the Pantheon in Rome,
I told myself, You too could aim for heaven and
escape through an oculus atop your head.
When asked, What do you have in mind?—I reply,
Please, anything except what’s already inside it.
You see, I don’t know why an echo is doomed to its
birth, or why I think fingernails are a euphemism for
claws. I don’t know why each eyelash is a library of
fallen prayers, or why every time I smile it feels like
something unwanted is having its way with my face.
I don’t know why each wave in the ocean is an eyebrow
raised in suspicion to the intrinsic goodness of humanity,
or why life seems to be a waiting room with no time to sit.
I don’t know why my body is full of the dark corners
of the world—the pulse in my collarbone; the crooked
voice jammed in my ear, or why a ribcage looks like its
choking the will out of something. I don’t know why breath
means war, and there are no weapons here but us, or why
we are desperate to reassemble our dust with vanishing hands.
I don’t know why exit signs are glowing brighter than
any tomorrow, or why it’s possible to drown in your own
saliva and choke on your own thoughts. I don’t know why
it’s always raining somewhere beneath my skin, or why
night baptized me in the name of everything it isn’t.
My brain has never really fit in with my skull,
and the truth is I don’t believe in gods, but I believe
in prophecies: the grains of sand that accumulate
into a desert.
I also believe in saying, Fuck it, and rewriting them
between the top lip of history and the bottom lip
of the unknown.
Our chests are cathedrals—
something holy, now empty—
eyes like stained-glass windows
filtering light through the stories
we see and tell. We are prayer-
books with all their pages torn out.
We don’t know if God is gone
or if God is here, as our blood
circles over and over again
where the scriptures take place.
We have raged at God until our
rage became a god. Is God in fire
but not the burning? Is God in
blood but not the bleeding?
Is God in silence but not the
listening? Is God in the storm
but not the wreckage? Is God in
the nails or the hammer? Has the
face of God been assembled with
teardrops, anger, and the desire to
worship instead of love? Will the love
of God and resurrections flood our
streets when we show one another our
wounds and none of them are doubted?
They that are nearest to God know there
is nothing to cling to except each other,
and that it’s more holy to save a life
than a soul.
To have pity is to be filled with the holes
of another, like Christ; to wear another’s
tears like a wet and cold t-shirt until it dries.
It means corralling someone’s pain into your
ears like a wounded animal to be rehabilitated
and released back into the wild beauty of their
being. It means listening until the pit in their
stomach becomes a peach in your hands—
sweet with the pulp of their value. Pity cups an
emptiness like you would a face; gives it borders.
Pity sits with Daniel in the lion’s den instead
of the Lord. Kisses the roars he thinks will devour
him. Devours him with kisses until he is stained
in love. It means falling into an empty well with
the unwell, and drinking from each other what
the other does not have. It means being broken
until you are a part of the lives of the broken.
The compass in compassion points everywhere at once.
Pity is a clear sky huddling around a seemingly
infinite cloud. I am pity. Give me your heart.
will be your ribs.