Fritz Ward



My life is a train deceiving its destination, and with its cargo of bread, blood and ash, I meant to cross your station by now, or be stationed at your cross. But the birds haven't beaten the air into complete submission yet, and my kiss—my kiss is that of a seamstress's mending the torn. I couldn't kiss you unless it would kill you.

On my way out of Ely, I stopped at the Blue Light, but couldn't find more than a single sweating bottle of myself. When I didn't see you, I didn't see her. I knew one of you had left a note: A woman wearing a glass of water can incite a funeral. I sighed. As a ventriloquist for the dispossessed, it was my duty to write it on the rust-flecked mirror in the men's room.

What I had in mind was a linguistic contortionist with a cinnamon aftertaste, a dissident in black, a Dionysian in a red wig—someone to fracture my story with the simple circumference of her wrist. When I found her, she was disguised as a pediatric nurse. It was over. All I had left was to detonate the g-spot and translate the lexicon of labia into one long legato. She pushed my head down and said the orchid is a white fever and the body a stain we sweat away.

There is the past: Glass-shattered. Metal-bent. Body of impact. Body of inertia. Blood spreading like wings on the asphalt.

There is always the past: Prayers to the god of anesthesiology. The needle's sutra. The white flag of her body—all the blue thread unraveling as red.

It hadn't happened yet. Everything was in the next room. Prayer was just one more erogenous zone. Yes, I'd swallowed a magnet or two and sipped some Persian blue house paint—but it wasn't always vertigo, always vice. Once, before hymn and hymen became one, before her whisper: Orgasm is the pit of the fruit, lyricism its flesh. But the truth is: Truth and the epidermis are individual matters, like seed and cervix, like the one she, the one you, the one epiphany of arrhythmia and freckles.

By now you know I'm not as infamous or tempting as that glass of water, nor half as gnostic as the cold front and its resurrection of rain. But some mornings, I wake and exhale with the hypnoerotic swagger of Raoul. The rest of the time, like any good reader, I take my clues from the weather—or from a cardinal, which possesses the same temptation as a drop of blood. Which is to say free association can get out of hand, or out of a locked hotel room without breaking a sweat or a window or one of her long, luxuriously painted nails.

The I is trying to say he bought a cactus in Ely, taped it to the dash and named it post-modernism for its one red flower, its idiom of irony. He fled. Yes, the I is ransacking the blood bank, stripping the smell of ammonia off a doll's lips, trying to understand a field simplified with snow—to undress the unaddressed, which is to undress himself past postmortem.

Afterwards—meaning after I'd given up on meaning—I made her one black dress entirely spectral and let it say absence, abstinence. I had contracted something semi-omniscient. I took the last two slivers of her fingernails left on the sink and put their affected affliction on the pillow. The bed was wholly unused. I was in. I was divisible.



In the triangle of dust and dead insects,
we divide your mother's memories
into boxes, choosing what to keep
and what to forget in the name of charity.

The spiders have all gone, leaving
behind their stories of tension and symmetry,
so when the web breaks across my face,
I'm already thinking about the past: the year

before I bought you the ring
and its colorless stone endlessly refracting
the light, the year before the radiation
licked your mother's bone marrow clean,

and that evening of broken rain
against windows, the yellow light
from her bedroom spilling into the hallway.
          —It doesn't matter how I got there.
It was her bed. Her yes—my yes.
                                                       Yes. I counted
the silence between the lightning strands
and the web of thunder.

And then the storm was over,
the eye two miles off,
her panties crushed
like a white flag beneath us.

So if I lean toward you to steal
a kiss now, it will taste like hers,
that coda of wild ginger and mint
I will never give back.



First, a toast to dirty martinis
in blue plastic cups.

To the church
of unfolded hands.

To grace

To each mouth:
a scar that opens

and opens
in guttural prayer.

Then cut to the interior
with sudden bleeding.

To the tallow tongue,
the brain wick, the heart smear—

all candled into a Wichita stitch
of honeymooned light.

To the highway
hyphenated with dried blood.

To the stitch and moan,
the stifle and burn,

the stop, drop and weep.
The ringing.



These poems are excerpted from the chapbook-in-waiting, Sig. "Letters to Lynn" began as an actual missive to Lynn Emanuel.