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This verse is an admis­sion of the prob­lems of mate­ri­ality, of the inhibiting and appre­hen­sible, and, yet, con­fessing to escha­to­log­ical surety in uncertainty.

It is also part of a growing col­lec­tion of raw, straight-from-the-shoulder poems ten­ta­tively enti­tled “His Life Dithyra­mbic,” a project con­ceived as I revisit my life up to this point, its pains, traumas, plea­sures, and good fortunes.

The attending illus­tra­tion is a self-por­trait done specif­i­cally for this piece. It retains the fleshi­ness and color palette of the illus­tra­tion selected from my existing work for the first in this series, Pro­crustes.

Embodied, they say, as if bound in an unholy cage.
Ensouled, they say, as if to lift and rarify their clay.
Whether cast from heaven into some­thing darkly damned,
Or charging dirt with sparks sub­lime, both dueling dreams allay

The pain of that per­cep­tual power that swal­lows whole
Its bifur­cated being, splits itself from shroud of skin.
Con­founded by the dis­lo­ca­tion of the me from me:
Meat per­ceives itself in meat, deems meati­ness its sin.

What tremu­lous ancient terror, to grow aware and know
That all this gore of ner­vous vis­cera and clever grease
Is all that is; without obliging atoms knit just so,
No imma­te­rial soul to from this matter find release.

No elec­tro­chem­ical bin’ry, not just ‘on’ and ‘off’,
But ‘on’ sup­pressed; its inhi­bi­tionar­i­ness its thrall.
Far more impor­tant than what is and what, indeed, is not:
Is self-benighting fraud that hides itself beneath a pall,

Incin­er­ates all sense and sensing of its active parts.
This vast and knotted, bloody organ clut­tering up our skull
Spends its grossest force in obvi­a­tion and oblivion,
So small an effort spent on aught, excepting to annul.

Imagine hearing in the cav­erns of the mind, the brook
Bab­bling in artery and vein; throb­bing heart, heaving lung;
The gur­gling fluids and the squelching gasses coursing down.
Yet no such madding clamor, instead a mental bung

And muf­fled silence through. Think, if every scent was ever new,
How over­whelmed by nose? Or glint of light, how fraught our sight?
Cease­less din of engines, hum of pests would deafen?
Every fiber, grain, or mote each tac­tile nerve excite?

To silence is our nature’s first and stub­bornest defense,
Against too mad and mat­tered, ply and piti­less a being.
And so from that primeval moment when we split the rind
And sunk our teeth into abstracted me from meat, thus freeing

Ani­mating organ from unthought, inno­cent reflex;
Now moral, now deep-sighted, but ever self-concealing.
Is there some life here­after, as we can appre­hend it?
Anni­hi­la­tion? Dis­solving glob­ules recongealing?

I con­fess — no fin­gers crossing — that the dead are resurrected;
In a world to come is life, and a life that’s everlasting.
Is it me, my meat, my self-made self, this con­fected soul?
Well, I have my doubts imag­ined con­scious­ness is lasting.

Still, I have vision broad enough to pray and to condole,
Whatever’s meant by life at last will undi­vide, make whole.