Size / / /


loosen your collar your tie
            & let the bruised & bloodied vocabularies
      of the urban night descend between
your cool shirt & warm belly
        like hinged scraps of living meat

leaf up through the poles of a dead telegraphy
        & let your body lie like a lingual corpse
(mummified to fibrous desiccation
                          & ossified to sledge-splintered bone)
          impaled on the pinnacles of a brassy skycape:

      a crime, she screams, a dirty sham
            as you give her back her time-thorned flesh
                                          the knotted tongue   the open fist
the canted thighs   the clenched kiss
                                          the eyelids smudged with kohl
                    the lashes clumped by bodysalt
              'til sight is rendered in disparate jigsaw flashes


like a city that changes its sex so often
            it has morphed to a jaded spaceport
                where the ejecta of the not-so-known universe
        gather to calibrate their stellar deviance

like a building that changes its floors so often
you are imprisoned in an reiterative elevator cycling
      where your destination & your departure
                              can be three-d graphed as a single
                temporal echo & spatial ululation

like a small boy crippled & maimed
            & given a beggar's bowl
                  & sent forth into the streets
                          of the teeming metropolis
            to be rescued by some
      purportedly beneficent nonagenarian
              who employs   skin grafts   collagen   prostheses
            to transform this adolescent monstrosity
                                into an adroit & perverse paradigm
      for his/her own divine/demented satisfactions:

the brood, she screams, the spattered blood
        the family, she seethes, the homespun homilies
as you give her back her brittle mindclasps
            in a blinding entrechat that flash/scours
                      the vile-urchin-argot graffiti from the
            entablatures of capital invention


when we descend iron staircases
                into the celebrated dungeons
      of the spiral nebula
                at the moment of canonization

when we whisper & laugh & brush shimmering tresses
            back from seamless brows aware that
      the entire cosmos may be watching

when we try to answer the questions that
      have been imposed upon us by unknown interlocutors
              in hours of isolation so utter
the metaphysical weight of a notion is overpowering

            all tropes are reduced to contortionist conflagration
      all similes & metaphors conspire to dovetail
into a single explanation/extirpation
                beyond the tangents of cellular comprehension

      the transliteration of all we have learned
                      rage-flagrant in blue peonies:
the corolla's velvet violet insistence
                        the stalk's violent heliotropisms
            pollen's bombcloud trajectory
                                parsed by slo-mo-holo cam
                          in graceful articulations
                      speechless as orgasmic clarity:

enough, she sighs through parted lips, c'est fini
                              as you give her back all the dead petals
              she once gathered from the gardens of the moon
                              (finite compost fragments coalescing
                  to a shifting teleidoscopic symmetry
                          that redefines the lesions of genetic sin)


Copyright © 2000 Bruce Boston
First appeared as a limited edition broadside published by Miniature Sun Press.

Reader Comments

The author of twenty-eight books, Bruce Boston has published in hundreds of magazines and anthologies, including Asimov's, Weird Tales, Pushcart Prize Anthology, Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, and the Nebula Awards anthology. In 1999 the Science Fiction Poetry Association honored him with the first Grand Master Award in its twenty-two year history. He would be delighted if you sent him mail. Bruce's previous publications in Strange Horizons can be found in our Archive.

Bruce Boston is the author of forty-seven books and chapbooks, including the novels The Guardener's Tale and Stained Glass Rain. His writing has received the Bram Stoker Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Asimov's Readers Award, and the Grand Master Award of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. You can read more about him at and see some of his previous work in our archives.
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29 Nov 2021

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