Two Poems

by C. Derick Varn

What About This Day?

Saturated future, tense flitting,
the bursting eclipse fading the retina,
the ellipses leave the love out like
the fractured mud at the banks
of the fossilized riverbed. What
about revelation? Our god is
a god of battles, of flaming tongues,
of landmines exploding on the dirt trails
to Angkor Wat? Where is fate, my girlfriend,
whose negligee is torn, cotton fraying, as
she mends her wounds. Love is more patient
than the burning pinyon pines, cones exploding
and leaving the bark black velvet. The ashen ground,
split and chapped, more hardcore than me. What
about absolution? When the heart tenses, loses time,
and only sex soothes the trembling hands, the kisses
like the trodden grass, our prophetess and judge
has turned our ploughshare into swords and our
silver spoons flame-scarred from the cooking
of the injectables that burnt-out the heart
of our history. What is our song? The sparrows
glutting on suet, my shoes’ stitching undone
from age, my plaid going as grey as my beard.
Sentimentality is box-jelly fish wasted on a beach,
the algae blooms choking the ocean, the hand rolled
cigarette after love-making until the stomach knots
come and we cough the smoke of the burning
mountains and the dust of the valleys. This is
life, life. What is in creation? Bodies briming
with information, thirsting for touch, skin-sick
and touch-lorn. What about this day?


Why Some Believe in Shambhala

When butterflies supped on
the fluid from a trout corpse,
their sheen of omnicolor against
the drying scales, I thought of

a friend I love who asked me
as we sat on an iron-park bench,
exhausted from dancing,
why I prayed since there

is no god I know or believe in,
any mala counters or matins
raised to a sky filled only
with clouds and dust.

she touched my hand softly,
wondering why I kept
the habit despite knowing faith
is a moth-rotted brocade,

tear-torn vellum page
of half-choked, half-truth. Still
I daven at the dawn or
let mantras stain my lips, Hebrew

and Sanskrit mix as if a hedged
bet on nothing. Words are things:
the sibilants crush into sound
and, if the dawn itself kisses my face,

an Aubade to the soundless
visit about which Larkin droned or
Rilke’s fascist angels saluted
in Romantic glee. Let’s take a look

at what’s at stake in the cold
night fog where the gap between
memory and history sits
like the choice between salt brine

or stagnant water. A tremulous
waif in brown uniform, stumbling
froze-bit across the Ostfront
with nude women crucified on ox

wagons outside Berlin. In paroxysm
this tacks to the moral vermillion
of his mind and in looking on what
snowdrops freeze in flesh,

nothing fecund here. Forward almost
a hundred years, Bengali adhān
rings over cold bodies holding malas
in Chittagong. Both dervishes

and Bodhisattvas know what
terror is and how best it
is employed. The faces of Kalachakra
peer into both ingenious cup

made of well-wrought human skull
and glaive to rend it such. The
terrible symmetry of cold bone
in its fossil excess. Or, we

look at huddled bodies in the ghetto
named of Vilna where
Einsatzgruppen a left Yerushalayim d’Lita
without the warmth

of voices in the Lithuanian snow. We
understand this, my friend and I,
and know why Tibetans dream of
pure lands, frigid frozen

peace, ridge in the center of lost
mountains. But this capitulation
is not mine. The ice-worn does not
rot, but also does not grow.

Snow being snow and while tissue
stay in stasis, the crystals that
save it, rip down every cell. Hence
why I pray, the heat of voice

is motion like a child remembering
the warmth of piss in his sheets,
comforting him like a brow-kiss
as his father slams the bedroom

door. I do not pray to God, but to me,
even then there is no semantic
confusion. I am not a God, Saint, Dervish,
Arhat nor deva, devil, or dybbuk.

I do not want that blame. For
cold and silence comes regardless,
so give moans, whispers. The sound
is motion and motion, heat.

C. Derick Varn is a poet, editor, teacher, podcaster, vlogger, and lives in a society. He believes that nihilism is best left to professionals.  He is the author of Apocalyptics (Unlikely Books, 2018) and the forthcoming Liberation and all that other Bright Etcetera (Mysterioso Books) 

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