FACE TO FACE
God is a creased forehead,
a laminated eye.
Only heroes draw his innards.
The horror of escaped air confounds.
Hours burn into swollen pillows.
The lame whistle far and wee.
The paneled walls
There is no face to face,
only sandpaper on naked skin.
Two-second splashes, then
A view from the window will not stop
the ship from sinking.
God’s creased forehead
folds back into brain matter.
A pre-chewed gumball lodged in the skull.
We keep eating
whole continents of regret.
Fat sighs pinning us in place.
A merry-go-round absolves
my continuous stare.
It’s the interior chain that keeps giving.
So, the traffic shifts suddenly.
So, the night mounts a war I will never win.
So, stupid moon, deaf birds in empty hallways.
Wax from toy soldiers bleeding on light bulbs.
Meatloaf of troubled heart, soggy and pink.
Desire is a blind man rapping his cane against my shins.
The church closes its metal tongue on my outstretched hand.
Thirst of the vacuum never fills.
The alpha wagers words; the omega erects a wall of syllables.
Every flash is magnetic for the bodiless God.
Framed by cracks in the horizon.
Succubus of language.
Is it a cloak or rug, I cannot tell.
Heaven is a silent solipsism.
a double-edged word.
among broken eggshells.
My house: walled-up in a dream.
My love: a cancelled check to an unknown God.
MR. WHISKERS AND THE PICNIC BASKET
Mr. Whiskers stole our picnic basket. We had just finished
a romantic movie and drove to the woods
for fancy cheese. We spotted a perfect clearing,
lush grass hidden by old trees. My girl hiked
up her skirt and we plotted our future. From here
to eternity. That’s when Mr. Whiskers snagged the basket.
We ate pine nuts from my pocket and scoured
the woods. Small footprints littered the dirt.
It was a hard search with menacing clouds.
So we packed it in, returned home.
And there, by god, was Mr. Whiskers
curled up on our new couch.
The picnic basket half gnawed.
Cheese crumbles wedged between nose and mouth.
Slogging back our wine, ashing his cigar
on the coffee table, chuckling.
My girl spoke about proper actions.
For her, it was simple.
Punishment as extension
of the human predicament.
All the worst returned to my mind:
the half-blind bully who tripped me
every time I was near a girl I liked,
the UVF uncle who bounced me
on his knee and whispered my future
as he ran my hand through his beard.
We dunked Mr. Whiskers’ head
in the toilet bowl, stuck pins
under his toenails, pierced
his ears with a Black and Decker drill.
Eventually we stuffed him into twelve layers
of trash bags, dragged him
to the basement, and buried him
under the floor in a steel box.
And we returned to the woods and began
a new picnic. No cheese. No fancy wine.
Just a boy and his girl sitting in silence,
eating apples from a broken basket.
THE TRUE ANTI
I’m anti-ant so I place ant traps in strategic places.
So many red armies, so little time.
I play poker with my juiced-up friends.
I feel Ireland as uncle Charlie whose heart
was a bicycle he pedaled morning, noon, and night.
Uncle Charlie, your winks deserve credit.
Your little ponds deserve credit.
The holes in your mind deserve credit.
You taught me how ducks matter.
Quack this, quack that, then a poke
from the ice cream man for fifty pence.
The Elders call those who turn away anti.
They say there are holes in your head that need re-drilling.
Hello, Mr. Anti. Poor Mr. Anti isn’t feeling well today.
Really matters. I swim in it.
At bedtime little lifeboats appear
but when I step into them the air wheezes out.
* * *
Marcus Slease was born and raised in Portadown, N. Ireland. Currently, he teaches Existentialism to freshmen at UNC Greensboro. Recent poetry has appeared (or is forthcoming) in Hayden's Ferry Review, Conduit, Columbia Poetry Review, Diagram, Gut Cult, Typo, Milk, Shampoo, Spork, and Octopus.