Thallium, Cyanide, Hemlock
How to predict that the pattern will overwhelm reality?
—Aase Berg, “Visionfield”
Orange-blossom honey, blue, not as cataracts, but blue even so, as orange-blossom honey,
blue: this misperception is not without you. May we see in the complexion of our mistake
two castrati and their poisoner inside a floodmeadow of chicory, brittlestars, and nightsticks,
so nauseous their Dictionary of Poisoned English begins at Lockjaw, and finishes with Ossuary.
Were an oyster bed the signature of our error, you would ask not what affluence we loosen
from the septic proofreader who vomits for us, but what blue honeycombs glisten in the mucus
of our oysters’ gills. OK, listener, you know. Odorless, the calligraphy our capillaries imply
returns to mind. Know our heart has five chambers: the castle of the air, the college, the page
of cups, your hedge maze with its lost message-boy, and my unborn son waking and waking.
Later, in a White Room with the Burial Ships
The Sleeper Shows Up as a Blip on Military Radar
There is, tracheal and long, the candle-inches of the unreal taking its communion in the night hospital
of the nearly real. Sleep passes your center, as frankincense, adieu: I wish everyone knew I love you, you
all, you, so that the moon’s mausoleum would fill with coral, as a winter’s worth of coal dust punctuated
by a pearl. Having dreamt in you a headless fawn, I reach across our sleeping-car and through the Arctic
Circle, where Lucifer, an abacus, would separate from ice crystals the Palace of Versailles. We were, once,
a trash fire. This light is the lace that leads to your cheek, a final, wasted thought of Earth ⁂ When I wake
in night, where have I been, with a cherrystone lodged in my throat? What is left to me, when I wake, but an aviary
stone-vacant and warm to touch? Left to starve, I could be hollower than the clouds that muffle autumn: I was born
poor, at the opera, where I lay screaming from the orchestra pit ⁂ Our virgin queen must be the last to speak.
When a Voice from the Aquifer Detaches a Snail from Its Shell
You hold in hand the city Chichén Itzá flick-flickering, and the ribs of its afterthought, its marmalade
factory; to think so is to hatch a pyramid with one feather-deep step for each sunburst inlaid in you.
Which fungus has sleep left to your inner ear? Its middlemost verbs, enlace, infest. I say, “we remain
ourselves for fear of waking effaced,” even as the city reaches past us to eyeless gardens darkening.
In my handbook to the afterworld, your palm holds Chichén Itzá, where the hieroglyphs affix to our
names a body dreamt of cartilage; were this true, an updraft would double us, the sinkhole swallow.
MATTHEW REED COREY lives in Chicago, and recently completed a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he won the AWP Intro Journals Project Prize and the Paul Carroll Award in Creative Writing. His poems have appeared in the Massachusetts Review, Crazyhorse, DIAGRAM, Artifice Magazine, and elsewhere.