What Rough Beast | Poem for May 2, 2017

Christopher Hennessy
Parrhesia for the First One Hundred Days

Abject amok—smoke-lunged Worm Kings in
bled sod, the cancer-soaked seeds germinate. Hate the
cankered tongue, slickened in rot: easier oil, old trick.
Defection, or defecation. Extrusion, or expulsion. Post-scatological.
Even the eschatological demurs to the one who
flenses a decent dawn from the guessers, grovelers,
gropers, guilty…and the living guests, too. Bone-
hurt, honesty becomes a predator for me, prey for you.
Irradiated whiteness rises, a great iris opens on the horizon.

Janus, we invite, but Iago comes (though
kin to him) and blocks the door.
Limn the end with beginning’s blight, hated
Moor, or hated general, or hated whore.
Nix love, trust, and oath. The twin faces of Janus,
Othello, they stare at us, toward future, toward
past, and we would blame them while
quieting the voice that admits “I am not what I am.”

Reveal reveal unseal reveal relieve: Primeval
snow, slow-falling ash, blinkers all sight. Nights of
teething men, their bibs’ slobber: human grease.
Undoomed from conscience, they consume, down to the
virus, itself a fossil conspirator. Eat your flag,
waste-landers, stand your hollow ground.
Xenomancers at the watchtowers, cast for vultures.
Yoked shades, pace your prison waiting for love to bring you to
zero: the bankrupt good, a borderland…or, if…a gun’s righteous aim.


Christopher Hennessy is the author of  Love-In-Idleness (Brooklyn Arts Press, 2011), a finalist for the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry from the Publishing Triangle. His two books of interviews with gay poets are Our Deep Gossip (University of Wisconsin Press, 2013), with a foreword by Christopher Bram, and Outside the Lines (University of Michigan Press, 2005). His poems, interviews, and book reviews have appeared in PloughsharesAmerican Poetry Review, Verse, Cimarron Review, The Writer’s Chronicle, The Bloomsbury Review, Court Green, OCHO, and Crab Orchard Review. His poems have appeared in the anthologies Love Rise Up: Poems of Social Justice, Protest and Hope (Benu Press, 2012) edited by Steve Fellner and Phil E. Young; Among the Leaves: Queer Male Poets on the Midwestern Experience (Squares & Rebels, 2012) edited by Raymond Luczak; Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry (University Of Akron Press, 2012), edited by Stacey Lynn Brown and Oliver de la Paz; Divining Divas: 100 Gay Men on Their Muses (Lethe Press, 2012), edited by Michael Montlack; and others.

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