Autumn 2020 Poetry

Song of a Grieving Achilles

by Chaidie Petris

they’re rubbing Patroclus’ ashes in my wounds like salt
          the ropes around my wrists
the menthol in the back of my throat
          the black, bacteria-filled bits between the bricks
where does it stop, where does it END?

I’ve got you here, in the back of a black truck trapped
          trapped in your body, trapped in your eyes, heart open, eyeballs ajar
they pulled off insect wings and kept them in jars
          this one labeled wars, this one closed borders, this one prison system

I said with eyes bright who are the women on the street
          they drove a black limousine 
          they wanked on the pavement
Rousseau drove his car backward booty out mooning
          all the girls in long ballgowns coming out of the opera 
                    and laughing

they put my hands against one of the boards — do you remember?
          from the doctor’s office when we were kids
          put your hands against it it senses warmth
          makes a big green handprint — do you remember?
waiting for your dad to get out of the psychiatrist’s office
          waiting waiting trying not to hear anything
          making art that fades away in another couple seconds
          but that’s what’s incredible — it’s there — and then — it’s not

I put my arms around her shoulder and rolled a cigarette
          and burned her thigh in little circles
                    I remember watching them get infected
                    and putting fly wings in them
                              and then the skin healed
                    the wounds and then she had fly-skin

and now I broke all their jars and they’re cutting me with the shards
          they’re tinged in yellow insect blood and bright red mosquito blots
and they push my hands over and over again down on spiders
          so I feel the awful crunch
                    of the life leaving their bodies
                    sickening and vomiting everything I didn’t eat
                              vomiting up my stomach lining and my organs one by one
until I’m a sack of skin clinging to bones and they use the bones
          to carve out the bacteria-ridden blackness between the bricks
and I see you and your cigarette and your bow and your laugh
and I weep for you, Patroclus.

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