FALL 2009

Joe Millar


      for Joel

He tightens a thin veil
of plumber's tape over
a one-inch ebony dowel
stretching the hole in his earlobe,
shows me the steel hooks

they stuck in his back
before he was hoisted, mute
dreadlocked carcass,
over the darkening fairgrounds.
Only the first two layers,
he says, you don't want

the muscle to lift.
If you've drunk enough water
the previous month the skin
loosens easily, "tenting" seven inches
away from the bone,

and you hang there in shock,
dazed, cold, bright trails
of plasma streaking the ribcage,
body's soft candle lit
from within: radiant icy adrenaline.

Sioux war chief, scarred
Druid, flayed Christian
mystic: the dark Asian horse
tattooed on one shoulder
blows its blue smoky breath
down toward his heart.




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