DARREL ALEJANDRO HOLNES
Your Lips are Copper Wire
after Jean “Cane” Toomer
If we do this, promise me you’ll untie
the sailor knotted ropes and rescue
my body. I don’t want to be
fire’s hostage, scorching, becoming
a raspberry incandescent.
Promise me you’ll breathe fresh, crisp, opium
back into my lungs, or at least give me
the pleasures of erotic asphyxiation,
blurred vision, an entitled giddiness—
A rouge undertone rushes my face
and swells my neck as my pulse accelerates
its ticking in anticipation, and my toes anxiously curl
around the detonator, my muscles contour
and contract right before you fuel them up,
right before my body’s inevitable
little deaths. If we do this, at least promise me,
some kind of flame retardant afterlife.
Tell me our wings won’t be made of phosphorous
or carbon, or covered in feathers, or wild silk. Say
this heat doesn’t last forever. Fly me
to the rock wool garden. Show me
how to play with matches in paradise
and not feel the flame’s wrath.
Though what game is worth winning
where there is no risk of loss? What love,
where there’s no risk it burns you alive?
Here, in death’s throat, we men risk the swallow
to savor the cave’s salt and natural gasoline,
its octane tang, its parched volatility,
to thirst for ignition, for death by combustion,
for the boom, and to, just like that, disappear.
Face to face in a lip-locked detonation
with our greatest fears and greatest courage,
let’s leave this world big banging into
the apocalypse no one, otherwise, will survive.
114 The Paris-American
Darrel Alejandro Holnes is a writer-producer in New York. His poems have been published in Callaloo, The Feminist Wire, The Caribbean Writer, Lambda Literary, featured on The Best American Poetry blog, and elsewhere in print and online.
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