Midnight. I trace the borders of this town with my two feet
under a blanket of stars. Darkness clings to me,
washed away by scattered pairs of headlights
shining like broken beads spilled onto the road
and rolling past me as I walk. August smells like
spent bonfires coughing up their burnt wood ghosts and
warm rain spilling its heavy and humid funk onto
dirt and concrete. I am naked; I am wet;
but I don’t care.
My God! You don’t know me. And you never will.
I’ve been the sky, I’ve copulated with every planet and star imaginable,
I’ve worn Venus on my left shoulder, and I used to
stink of the burning sulfur veils that she whirls around herself
when she dances. Orion wrapped his belt around me one night
and let me wear it for kicks; I’ve worn Andromeda’s chains
for earrings; and I’ve ridden Leo’s back, digging my fingers
into his mane of fire as we crossed the cosmos.
And now, I laugh at your suggestion that I should
wear clothes. What do you think? I cannot tolerate
how you cackle, screech, and moan about
my jewels being on open display, about not putting myself
under a proper black cloak or under a glass case or under
a stiff, red cocktail dress that only teases the air with
a rounded tan shoulder, a warm peach collarbone. You’re full
of shit. How do you hold back the sun, and how do you chain the moon?
Encased behind prison bars like cold black fingers,
shut behind grey walls like death rebuilt as a sick concrete backdrop,
they will still break free. And so do I.
Don’t worry about me. I’d rather be this than the
blonde wrapped candy that I was before I walked out
my front door. I’ve found God like candles, like
supernovas, like blood smeared across lips and fingers
from ripping apart and devouring time. And if you think I’m crazy
like Akka Mahadevi, like Rimbaud, like the mad old woman next door
hearing dead Indian voices, then I say: so I am. I make no
apologies for it, and I refuse your sanity like
chloroform strangling the mind with an army
of straightjackets. Fuck you. I will not strip the God
from my bones.
So let me be. I’ve found my heaven, and I intend
to return to it at every opportunity. I am inside bliss;
my soul leaps up inside that turquoise fire. I am naked; I am
wet; but I am clean. Which is more than I can say
This month’s challenge directed us to gather a poet’s work around us, pull out or underline lines we really liked, and then construct at least two centos, or patchwork poems (one each on days one and two, of course) from those lines. On day 3, we have the option of either writing another cento or parting ways with the lines and writing our own poems based on or inspired by our chosen poet. In case you haven’t read the other February Mini-Challenge poems, I’ll tell you that my chosen poet was Arthur Rimbaud.
While I return a little back to my own style for this piece, I tried to incorporate some of his stylistic elements. Knowing a little of his life, I understand that he was a wanderer, a Libertine, and rather restless. From my reading of A Season in Hell, I also began to understand his disdain for convention and an ordinary life. I decided to intersect this with what I knew of Akka Mahadevi’s life and experience. What I ended up with was a continuation of the story I told in one of my January Mini-Challenge Poems
Hope you enjoyed the read.