UNIVERSES AND PARADOXES
What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?
When I hand you a pen that writes on anything and a page that can’t be written on?
Is this how we love? With spears that pierce everything and shields that can’t be pierced,
eating flesh that starves us: primordial order soaked in chaos.
What happens when irresistible love meets immovable hate?
When immovable hate is an irresistible love gaslighting the night awake—
Rothko’s black square like oil on water
one in the same that never meet; strangers with their names as anagrams.
What happens when immovable truth meets irresistible lies and plummets,
into the finite plural:
there is many much more most: inertia dragging, tugging microcosms back forth
Against bivalence into colorful black:
universes bulging under man-made stitches; paradoxes lining our luggage bags.
The truth of each other never successfully resisted
The love never successfully moved. Only impartially,
in filtrated hatred:
all breathing, like uncorked wine, over
a porous primal scream
INNOCENCE IS A SLEEPING GIANT
The child grows:
with eyes that have erased faces
and seen beyond the skull of strangers
with hands that have suffocated life
and borne the stigmata of loved lepers
with feet regimented over scorched earth while
squeezing juice from beds of grapes
with a mouth that legislates
and teeth to chew the cud of wonton dreams.
In the background giant ears hear the axe snoring away at the beanstalk:
the smell of sour milk lasting all through adulthood.
Here is where the giant woke and ran
falling prey to a childish prayer and a choice:
survive at all costs; steal back what you lost.
Has the table already been set with nametags in alphabetical order?
Has the mold already been fitted; every scientific anomaly accounted for?
Have corpses seen everything in their cold birth?
What of madness and belief and
nothingness striking like a match against itself— ending ceaselessly.
THIS AND CO.
This is the fleeting-memory-dream we longed for,
a past and future remixed into water.
This is the place where particles become light,
open wounds scabbing and bleeding.
This. And Us. Are
lovers departing and arriving
from each other
we touch, we kiss, we say goodnight.
Is Here anywhere but a language of organic borders,
violence distilled in gravity?
(This silence escaping all searching sound.
This hallowed ground.)
Face values taken to heart; the heart of things forgetting their start.
We hover over, shadows of an eclipse
sweetly torn in two in full view
of absolute This.
DEFINITIONS OF MEN
We lie there not as lovers but as men seeking comfort in each other
Spartan (noun): My father weeping at my queerness.
Viking (noun): The boy I cuddled with when my parents went out dancing.
Zulu Warriors (collective noun): The heterosexual males who embrace me unafraid.
Queer (verb): To curve lines of sight; to dream of language as a river.
Faggot (adjective): A man petrified of his G-spot.
Two-Spirited (noun): Men who devour the peach and the pit.
Man (verb): To concretize oneself under a crushing bolder.
A GIFT FOR BURNING
Only certain elements burn a bright pure flame unlike the cough-warping of metal.
My carbon frame burnt to catch a whiff of what crawled and creeped in your undergrowth.
Did your insides catch like cinder, a fast whisper through brown fields;
did they singe the air in despair that all you were could disappear
when a slanting light cut through you?
Or did it linger, a slow-fueling singer, dancing upon licks of enigmatic prayer
that here we would be—indecipherable and always—burning to believe.
If we harnessed these gifts for burning could we have forged a path through:
changing our chemical compositions—like lithium upon a flame—
atoms splitting, fusing, forever changed?
In order to escape winter ink spills from fingers,
sonic radar vibrating off topographies of weeping hope.
In order to escape winter I fly to a cerebral north
pick-axing fetuses lying buried in crystal.
In order to escape winter bodies draw out of sight:
a vulnerable giving; an indiscriminate taking,
Northern Lights erupting beneath bone.
In order to escape winter
play dough bodies crumble each other up
reenacting childhood games that never left us.
JARRED THOMPSON graduated from Alabama State University with a Summa Cum Laude in English. He has been published in Typecast Literary Magazine, Type House Literary Magazine, The Best New African Poets Anthology of 2016, New Contrast Literary Journal and was longlisted for The Sol Plaatje Award and Anthology of Poetry and placed second in the Fitzgerald Museum Short Story Contest, a national contest for college students in the US. He currently resides in Johannesburg South Africa where he is at work on his Masters at the University of Johannesburg.
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JARRED THOMPSON IN CONVERSATION
I wanted to extend that discomfort throughout the poem, taking words associated with masculinity—and its subsequent anathemas—in order to produce similar disorientations that could open up new ways of seeing words and their associated meanings.