Body : Night
Lately I’ve been asking where the body begins
and where it ends. I can still tell my arms apart
from the night, but dusk after dusk I lose teeth
when I breathe the dark in. I tell the vicious jawbones
I meet on the street It’s just a disappearing act.
Just think of it as juggling a liver and an eye ball
with one hand. The pink sharp nails
choose their fortune card and wait.
Too bad you’ve come so far to see another skeleton holding a scythe,
supposedly a sign for fleshless death. Everything that dies
near me has flesh. I remember a place where
there were more mouths than heads. Tell me
what were their names, who wore whose face.
I need a new name for the graveyard I guard
between my plum lips. When it doesn’t respond
to tongue, I call it migratory swallow smashing
its head on glass, or lilac worm splitting a man
in half. It is so quiet I hear the Lungs complain
about the dry setting. Mrs Lung, in a beautiful
piano black dress, wants Mr Lung to tell her
to undress. Mr Lung wants the dress on, wet,
see-through, so I say Let me drown it for you.
Because I wanted to remain the adjective,
I nailed myself in the noun.
Because even the comma couldn’t stop me
from getting to the end of the sentence –
a lifeline as thin and graceless
as the unfaithful subtitles of a French film
I watched to fall asleep. And there it was,
the present tense holding on to the past,
beautifying it into gravel, pressing it into a boulder
and then rolling it straight at your glass door.
The door is made of glass because
language. Because I have made my decision
from the leftovers: words I failed to translate
before I came to kneel here.
Here, poorly written, beneath
the beautiful actress’s beautiful lips.
You are right, I don’t want to be read lightly,
I want to feel eyes and their desire on my skin.
I want you to come after me
like you would do for any hero.
I am thinking underworld, undercut, undergod.
Be careful: the verbs can’t get you anywhere,
you need to use your legs.
About the Poet
Christos Kalli, born in Cyprus, recently graduated from the University of Cambridge. His poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from Ninth Letter, the National Poetry Review, the American Journal of Poetry, the Adroit Journal, the Los Angeles Review, the minnesota review, PANK, The Hollins Critic, Harpur Palate, and Dunes Review, among others. His chapbook INT. NIGHT / Nightscarred was a finalist for the Sutra Press Chapbook Contest (2017/2019). From 2017 to 2019, he has served on the editorial board of the Adroit Journal. Visit him at christoskalli.com