(Let Us Drink Together From This Grail)
No matter what.
from The Exhibitionists
If they were looking out … they would have seen me at the ridge, gathering myself from the climb … how I approached the fence through the flurries of snow, 200, 100 yards. That I stood under the spot where they’d scarecrowed you. I did not remember to cut down your body. That I turned and slowly trudged my way back. To them, my surrender may always seem like the promise of one biding time … for the right time, to revenge. Even for all that great white flag of snow.
In any case, living or dead, I could not have carried you. Living or dead.
I have died or where I will die or where at least much of me has already died, but inside: the impossible moiling of an infinite worm more beautiful than anything I could possess myself to imagine. Possessed me after I could. The writhing you see is not mine.
The death fever is closing in on your brow, now swollen pink veins wriggling with worms pores sputting pus. The death fever is sweeping in on you now–I seeded its dank swamp heat into all four winds and used all my charms to persuade every road and path, every air current and water channel to change course, to lead to your hollows. I breathed into every breath! I bled into maggots… I spat plague into your plague mouth.
Take me with you. Back into the good good earth.
My penis is a water snake and how grand and deadly it is sliding through the rivers; it will kill everything; oh but it falls pray to a billion mosquitoes, a thousand devouring piranha mouths! A skeleton that floats slowly towards the source like a garland of blanched fall leaves; glide backwards backbone, you vertebrae of everything, towards the throne of your grave, into the glaciers, the frozen semen, capping everything, as if you made everything, as if I made you.
I let you cut off my skin.
I begged you to cut off my skin.
When you wore my skin I was so proud to have given up everything, my raw muscles bulged with selflessness and dripped with generosity.
Your teeth grating over my skinned cock.
It felt right being deceived by you. It felt like returning home.
It was comforting to be betrayed by you.
I wore your neglect as a shawl and was warmed.
I sat before the hearth burning one cold stone.
A. Riding’s work has appeared in Gargoyle Magazine, The Adirondack Review, Red Fez, A Glimpse Of, Southern Voice, Apocrypha and Abstractions, YAWP, Yummyrotica, Conte Online, Exquisite Corpse, Oblivion Dispatch, Old Growth, Sex and Guts Magazine, The Face of New Orleans, and others. Riding received the Mary McCarthy Prize for fiction and has founded, co-founded, or been a member of a number of performance spaces and art companies.
This poem is previously unpublished.