Behind the Sheets of Shuddering Cellophane

Mathias Svalina

I take my god
from the dust
on the windowsills,

from the blackened flesh
of the tumor
behind my father’s ear.

My god grows
snowy when
you turn the dial.

It has evolved
beyond a use
for its claws.

When you touch it
fire leaks out
& covers the table.

Fill your open hands
with fire. There is
no great art
in understanding.

Dead men with scars
know as much as
the tongues of the hanged,
bulging from the mouth.

• •

I take my god
as facts
move across
time into
tidal pools,

where trapped fish convulse
as birds menace
on phlegmy legs.

Language is a fact
& it moves
the dust.

Broken bones
set themselves
into kneeling positions.

My god bursts the hearts
of every hummingbird
its thumb touches.

The cops arrive
& arrest me
for changing my name
each morning

into something

• •

I found a hundred dollar bill
in the poor box
& gave it to the girl
who cracks seashells
with her teeth.

I found a hundred dollar bill
in the hands of a priest
& gave it to the wolf
that curled up
below the windowsill.

My knowledge depends
on the murk at the bottom
of the wishing well.
I am good when I
am in motion.

The space between
one fact & another
is as thin
as the fingerprints
burnt onto
the hot skillet.

• •

The thin skin between
tumor & air
grows blacker
as the jaw breaks.

I am good when I
enter the wolves’ den
& teach them to speak.

When you swallow
a handful of dust
you choke.

This is a book
of absolutes
that goes on forever.
It spells each name
in a tired script.

Spell our name.
Write it with the tip
of your finger
in the white powder
on the pane
of broken glass.

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