Les Quatre Nobles Vérités [a poem revisited]

I. Dukkha

August heat and aerial moisture
drives us to the river; to jump in
and drink its amber liquor—
it’s a calming haze and a cigarette after.
the foam shimmers, this sunlight deludes
in slick industrial passage;
the water’s cold.
nearby the bitter dry grass and shrubs
are ready to kindle; to feed the flames
birthed from the swelter we breathe—
the water reaches not so up to it.
above us only rollers paint the sky
not sponge dabs or brush strokes
but it’s utterly smooth:
i need to see roughness to know i can rattle
i need to see roughness to sooth it out with my hand.
up is endlessly slick—
here is jagged and brutal.

when we lie out naked
the vittles cling to us as we roll;
when we rise the desolates prick our feet
when we stand: our blood is all the moisture
these barren morsels shall drink today.

this strip of Earth is barren,
but the air surrounding us is so fertile
that even to feel it against our faces
makes our minds wander:
as a swarm of sweaty palms
the river currents rush over the riverbed
quenching the eroded rocks below,
and they smooth out like the skin on our backs
when tampered with. it’s all part of a vision
—sacred, perhaps, is
what the LORD commanded of us—
where we can swim with the gushing current
and we can feel the foam pop against
our torsos and our loins.
all this makes me thirsty,
all this makes me know that no rivers flow in this building
where we sit,
hoping for a slice of air to cool us,
and for, if anything at all,
a way to ease the burning on our skin
and on our flesh—
it’s too much to handle right now
without a glass of wine in my hand
and a bottle of champagne on my head.

this land is of dying, suffering,
we are of dying, suffering.

II. Dukkha Samudaya

across the table, through the haze

a streetlight concerto bears the night,

holds the starlight steady

under which we (tired from the drunk)

leave our padlocks empty—

it’s been a long time.

the vodka flows and the wine engages us.

burning chicken smells ground us—

we are not in Eden any more, darling;

we are not surrounded by fertile hills

and ramped plains. instead,

we sit in a crowded bar and imagine what the other

would look like sprawled out on the floor;

i imagine you under my bedsheets,

in a slumber that only exhaustion and strain

can induce.

around the bend there’s a car horn

and once again we shake our heads.

are you alright?

i’m okay.

just okay?

could be better.

let me pour you another drink,

let me wet your lips and you can wet mine.

of course—who knows who leaps up—

every word hangs in the air

because i can’t drink them in

as i can drink this glass empty.

are you okay?

i could be better.

another drink?

could be better.

she brings another; my hands tremble

and my fingers curl around the glass.

it’s so cold but my hands give more moisture.

my words should only be so chilling.

when you brush your hair aside

my throat dries up. you tell me to speak

but i can only dream—what you would look like

without these lights on; how soft your body is

when i lay my bony frame upon it;

how when you finally fall asleep

i can finally fall asleep, too.

the bar is loud.

are you okay?

i’m fine for now.

i could be better.

III. Dukkha Nirodha

light up;

a light out

from the tunnel—

here’s a way for us

to shake off

these feelings









amores juvenis

a light now;

a light when?

we need it

to anoint us—

by simply kissing us;

rubbing our aching muscles;

and not fucking us

—to tell us that it

is there

IV. Dukkha Nirodha Gamini Patipada Magga



starlit echos tantalize the

eyes; the pupils dilate, they

open wide. the water drifts to

show the temp’rate kisses that we

scorn obtusely. deadly symbols

scare away our hands; they kill us

dead with beauty—blinding us

evermore with fleshy torches.


kisses always kisses; always

aimed at lips instead of hips and

bones. when minds align they cherish—

hearts denied remember only

hurt. but how does recollection

make intention? understand the

body, understand the mind and

think of double, not of single.



girls, rejoice! the boys are here—they

want to play! and said they’ll travel

arm in arm to pick the flowers

growing tall beside the river!

boys, rejoice! the girls said yes!—they

said that we could grab their hands to

follow them and kiss them by the

riverside! to pluck their flowers!


Annabelle came home one day to

find her husband naked. then he

said profusely are you my wife?

Annabelle conceded it; she

buttoned down her blouse and skirt. he

fell asleep but Annabelle got

up to make his dinner; salty

tears adorned the steaks she made him.


stirring coffee; looking out the

window; alive and well. statues

still parade the park where

girls and boys remember how to

play. remember when you used to

know to play? remember when you

had concern for games and for

making pawns from those in dresses?



it’s enough to put the bottle

down; enough to put the light from

cigarettes completely out but

not upon the skin of dear ones.

it’s enough to steal the bottle

‘way from angry hands; enough to

spray the flames with water while you

count how many times you’ve done it.


evermore remember what your

mother taught you—boys always

will be boys and girls should always

keep their hands outside their dresses.

evermore remember what your

father taught you—girls never

know to keep their hands out where you

want; remember to remind them.


take these verses; pick apart their

veins to find what makes them bleed. a

hint and recollection makes you

see the light before your eyes. now

take your thoughts and keep them picking

out the rivers, when currents

flow about the land to quench the

throats of rightly tired women.


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