Of Arcadia

 

— The Praeneste fibula, or the ‘brooch of Palestrina’, is a golden pin dating back to the seventh century BC with an inscription in Old Latin that, when first discovered in the 1880s, was the earliest known example of the language.

 

 

Unsprung gold neither poured nor forge-
ry, it is lithe-limbed
as marble-skinned men lathering
one another bathhouse-bare, or strigil-
scraped till glowing (my desires
on this matter tending toward to have — not to hold
but to be). My mind: a Janus beggar, lintel-
lounging, of two minds. On the outside, I am whole-
hearted, peering in the Etruscan mirror
of the Venus, the Eros; all-male
movies read their marquees, and in every aisle a cock-
sucker (epithet used only unusually
in malo) hard at work. Of them: miracle-
seekers, Morton-toed, overripe with animal
atavism — and me made of envy. Why wasn’t I better made
to refute assimilation’s maze, sex
forever more than a contagium
of gens and generation? One’s body
gets bored of the business of filling its own skin, wants
respite in the form of a different sticky situation. An anchorage
at the thievish harbor of grand-
mother tongues, a Polari upon which Ursa
Minor
hangs her ladle emptied of warm water, cant
in the sanguine language of Original Plumbing’s skint
polity. Of the brooch: ornate and oracle-
tongued as an anteater sucking supper up
through reedy straw, Manius made me
for Numerius inscribed on the side, a love
note (could be) numinous as the milk-
spilt sky. Beneath which, in any given February my navel-
joined second self might be trawling
through torsos, swiping
right in search of midnight
wabi-sabi, a hanky decryptographer (light blue, right
side, or red) code-named Mania (the feminine
form — figures). Meanwhile, the gods: howling at the stars, laud-
anum drinkers of the noctilucent hymn, and me
still walking around in this same body I was born in: obiter
dicta. Yet even in Arcadia am I.

 

 

 

 

 

Of Leather

 

Outfit of an adept — another animal’s
shed (unwilling) shape, snake

in morality’s outhouse rafters, slowly susurrating
out of the past season’s

skin — made into the outline
of another creature. Creaking

as floorboard or door you hoped to open soon
and slip (unseen) through — thriftstore motorcycle jacket

 

*

 

found by a young queer (she wears her wisdom teeth — pulled cheap at a dental school years before — on a cord around her neck) who considers it her biggest score. Too tight already to hunch forward over anyone’s imaginary Honda,

 

*

 

and in its pocket, thin envelope
of someone else’s (inhuman) teeth — talisman and shape-

shroud of a body that contains
another’s, and parts of yet — one more. There

 

*

 

are many ways one makes a body bend to another’s, bezoar of hair a knotted jewel in the belly or coyote baring its incisors as you pick your way sideways down a sheer stone slope (steep slope slow down read the sign along a highway south of Kunming, or the time she bit down on a pig’s tooth — a premolar — in a carnitas burrito), its footsteps following, filling, yours. It lays back its ears listening for a human inside it, stands upright:

 

*

 

Isaac,

at the altar, bound — but this time,
god says go ahead.

 

 

 

 

Photograph courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Terminology
The Swallow’s Nest