Poem of the Week: January 6th, 2014

Brian Clifton is the author of our poem of the week, “A Prayer to Forget.” He’s nominated for a Pushcart Prize for this poem from our Summer 2013 issue. His work can also be found in Third Wednesday, Iodine, Plains Song Review, and other magazines.

By Brian Clifton

Because I do not walk in measured strides
because I do not stride
because my measurements are never exact
because I am exacting only in striation
because my striation is a striation of the heart

and not of the mind and not of the body,
the striation, noose and artery, dandelions and twine
-a loose-weaved crown to mark my memory-lapse-,
because I claim to know a man but forget his hands
because this lapse bands together the time
with my hands and the time without my hands
because these times stand as times that mark the hour

let time and my hands be coated in honey
let honey be golden, if golden honey wants
what gold can be years from years in isolation
and let me name this love the love of honey
and honeyed love, a prayer in honey, a mouthful
of honey’s forgetful viscous strings sucking
on fingers and licking bruises under nails

this love wax-paper-lantern-light, this love orange zest,
this love that honey-covers my hands in their creases.
Let my smothered arms acquiesce to honey
let my torso rejoice crystallized hallelujahs
let my voice hone its own ode to honey
and let honey sing itself a love song in my voice.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Because my voice can never remember its birth
because my birth was measured in moonlight
because moonlight can be honey in alleys
because alleys are never exactly alleys
because alleys are sometimes dead-ends

pulsating with voices like water-washed honey,
and these voices measure tongues with honey,
straining for an ear for their honeyed rounds
because these honeyed rounds drown
the sounds around their harmonies and howls

let my ears be mortared shut with thyme soaked in honey
let this thyme act as notation, as the signal for the coda
to honey’s love song, which is to say let thyme limit honey
and let honey quit its singing when honey realizes
solitariness is the cloud of honey’s golden lining
let that lining pierce the center of the honey song

-sharp and silent like a dead pheasant
wrapped in gauze, preserved in honey-

poured into a moonlit bottle, its reflection, its ghost,
let honey echo its own finale on teeth
and backs of tongues as it pours down throats.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

And although I do not measure my strides
and although my measurements are never true
and although honey striates my hands and arms
and although honey is a kiss, if honey begs for a kiss
and although I have honeyed from birth,
if birth becomes its own type of honey
as it grows to form a child that time drips from fingers
and although thyme sparks in honeyed trails
and although these trails float to heaven
and although heaven teems with thyme’s floating trails

let me pray to forget honey and honey’s song
let me forget honey’s beautiful and useless viscosity

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