CHRISTENING THE DANCER
Ash flutters like a butterfly beneath a bell jar.
My darkness is as thick as grease.
"Fine, now tell me something of love,"
the dancer inside me screams.
The wind wraps like a bandage
around my blistered feet.
The dancer is clawing through my lungs,
clawing through my back,
bursting from my flesh
like a channeled text, leaving
splinters of bone on the floor.
"Is it my turn now?" the dancer says.
"Yes," I say, "now it is your turn."
The orphan dies in an empty room.
The creator dies on the seventh day.
"Look," the dancer says, "I am flying."
The great gleaming eye above the clouds
bears down like a smoldering drill.
Stars are bursting like bubble wrap.
Scaffolding is removed from my genitals.
Thermometers lie broken on the surface of a thawing lake.
I am becoming the dancer,
the dancer is becoming me.
I am becoming nothing,
I am becoming choreography.
I am as empty as tomorrow's urn,
and the dancer is dancing
on the stage of my emptiness.
And the dancer is dancing
as blood pours from his palms
and water spills from the hole in his side.
"I forgive you," the dancer says.
"I forgive you," I reply.
The song spreads like a frayed seam.
The dancer bleeds dust, the dancer
drinks light. Like an old god,
the dancer dies and is reborn.
And his name, whatever it is, is not mine.
JOHN AMEN's poetry and fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in various publications, including The Drunken Boat, Sidereality, Three Candles, 2River View, The Melic Review, Samsara Quarterly, Disquieting Muses, and Branches Quarterly. He has performed widely as a musician, both as a solo act and with a band, and has released three recordings, Wild but Willing, Eat Mine, and Four Forty Four. His first book of poetry is scheduled to be released in late 2002. He is editor-in-chief of the online literary publication,