I’m learning to sweat—learning to swear.
When I speak of God, edges of broken-
glass words: the father who art elsewhere,
thou cannot stitch together jawbones with breath
breathing life in pierced tongues and barbed
sentences. I don’t want mankind to work anymore at
establishing communications or commandments
thou shalt stop ignoring that I cry with and at your creation.
In a no story neighborhood
I read all the time,
letters glyphed on a page like I am If I
would ease into taking notes I’d find
something to do when there was really
nothing I could do.
A woman, whose name might have been
Eros, demanded I pack my unfolded I-love-
you’s, some not even dry yet, run them back
between clenched jaws, let myself down
from the rack and leave her
smelling bittersweet—like dried blood on
cracked linoleum listening
to those damned birds who wear
the dust like an old tweed jacket.
Aaron Graham hails from Glenrock, Wyoming, population 1159, which boasts seven bars, six churches, a single four-way stop sign, and no stoplights. His work explores the relationship of desire and violence currently ostensibly through juxtaposing Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans with classical exilic figures. He is an alumnus of Squaw Valley Writers Workshop and the Ashbury Home School. He is a veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, where he served with Marine Corps Intelligence as an Arabic linguist. Aaron is currently finishing his PhD at Emory University; specializing in modernist poetics, Arabic language poetry, continental philosophy, and cognitive neuroscience.
Image credit: Agony in the Garden by Andrea Mantegna (1431–1506)
Read more from Cleaver Magazine’s Issue #13.