once touched

“having a harsh, disagreeably acrid taste, 

like that of aspirin, quinine, wormwood,
or aloes; hard to bear; grievous;
distressful; causing pain; piercing; stinging;
characterized by intense antagonism or hostility”

Millsis Adoma,

she said it to me in bed “”
but, it can’t be lifted
you were a manacle, like speaking
in code: Adoma Millsis



the memories you placed before me
laughed out onto the table, antiques
appraised, then returned to collection

in code, of course.

in code, you were strong: unfragile: harkness
hung from the stable. but now i am here, decoding.
legs beneath my writing desk: worrying: eroding.

in code: the stable.

you’re both here, cutting, crashing, set upon the beach
for the first time: miraculously: miserably: confused
hand-in-hand, our mouth cast out over the pacific
i cut, you crash, we’re all watching for this
purple sunset.

in code: misery stretched out over the ocean
like a tightrope: hung from the stable.

don’t close you eyes: sleeplessness is a gift
accept your giftlessness, sleep: in code: she said it to me

here i am again, beside her
lifting the language, exposing
the bleak, black experience


we’re here beside bibles
dread thesaurus, rhyming dispair
pitter plots of rotten condensation


dry sharp tip of a knife, blood
bitter bite of a page-thin blade
played to lip and jaw and


mentally there is no weight to curl, it’s all power
perceived through a prism; when you move your hand slow
across the patients’ covers it trembles, imperceptibility
a cheap parlor trick. like, the fear is in your know.


we’re here among the bibles, our teachers’ patient parlors
and we’re like waiting, clock watching, tossing knives
into the softwhite up above.


like speaking in code: i’ve stopped thinking about myself
just long enough to address you. once i’d known
apelike kings and a snakelike pig; we knew each other.

she said it to me in bed “”
but, it cannot be lifted
your manacle is speaking
in code: Adoma Millsis, once touched.

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