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May 022010
 

by
David Glen Smith


 

He wears his failures
as a hair-shirt- laced with layers of coarse
Tuscan boar bristles, the inner lining braided
with a series of Russian olive tree thorns
and strands of unwashed wool from a black ram. 

Every rejection
he hastily cross-stitches into the seams,
with knots of blue-black threads in embellished,
elaborate patterns to tie down the miniature bones
of his disappointments and unforeseen losses.

Tendrils of thistles
and wilted ivy choke out a tight Celtic knot
of faded paisleys and worn flannel,
the full pattern-years in the making-
exhibit levels of compounded details.

Sewn by his grey hands,
needlepoint letters appear
in high Gothic fonts, display a tightened vocabulary.
Stitched words flank across his lank sleeves
with an abundance of: lack, want 

omission, absence.
The full tabula rasa opens over
as a second skin to cover
the corrupted self hiding
the multiple sores, rashes, 

various scratches,
acne scars, and pock marks
which linger on the surface of the epidermis,
hiding the history of unhealed wounds.

The full coat consumes.
Transforms. Burns the old
into the new. Flesh and bone assume
the burden of the handmade cloak.

Soon he will become the wolf, rabid, 

insatiable,
shuddering to the ground on all fours-
a lost dog, crouching low, or a
wounded coyote limping home,
lupine desire slipping across southern borders.