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Tara Calishain

The Saint's Mirror

We begin blessed
then burning, all infinities
blurred in the glaze of memory.
Virtues lay locked in grey caskets
while vice is tapped,
a wave of black stinking brine,
leaving traces on every falling stick
every bone and intention
fermenting, meaningless,
boiling, eating the honest dust.
Eating the muscle, the smiling spark
eating the poetics of movement
gilding our breath with
prophecy of failure.
Even the ocean is twisted so
eyeknobs to rattlebones foundering in the essence
choking on the remnant of a lie.


Porky withers and smiles in the reeds.
Thirty years gone to a stuttering heart
a smooth skull amiable in the low tide
all corners rounded by time and the lapping wave.
Sixteen year old Porky, they remember you
around the dining table, over dinner
Porky the dire warning, Porky the victim
Porky the foundering archetype
Granny tells you in a tale smooth
as a bone flute, Porky the marble
a die with no faces, a mood gliding
into my conciousness, lean with a fluttering sail
Granny makes you into a bundle
feeds you to us, Porky the memory
I dream of Granny dancing you alive
passing you around, and how you smile
with leaves over your eyes
and how you sink beneath for the last time
traceless, ageless, utterly white.

The Painted Dog

Trapped in the taunting slant of remembering walls
and veils, cursing with a thorough knowledge of history
the painted dog sits mirrorwise and tries to recognize himself
abandoning pursuit of the time-passage that gilds him
spinning and reincarnating himself with dust and a jawbone.

Restless, the painted dog befriends a window
and mistakes paranoids for scholars and nature for bedlam.
Heartless, he names sidewalk idiots and red-headed whores
and mercyridden mice, asleep in their cubicles
with equal aplomb, equal madness, equal method.

The strange painted dog mutters in his awakening
and touches away ceramic sleep from his painted raven's eye
Feeling the drag of his tribe pull heavy
devouring into his subtle country
rendering his heartbeat weak, and his body recklessly trite.


The prince of roses in repose is like a hanged man
emulating the circuit over a pentatonic path
discovering the route with a crowning ignorance
of the state of things - why he is not king.
The fashionable fool smells this in his voice
showering him with names, as loyal as a silver nail
a tribute to a little lie to wear in the side
but giving him nothing but a hoodful of nights.
It was so hard not to know you over orbital discussions
and lunacy, and the fitness of the grotesque
but I triumphed by making burdened fables
clear and cold, tucking them into my belt
numbing my fingers against the moon and your reason.

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