The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness

Iliana Rocha

Remember the night you tried to kill

us: The moon takes a bite

of itself. My mouth, the same, you write

there a story about hunger: your mother, wax

& surrogate. Knuckles crackling, star-like.

For each emptiness, you put a dent in me.

For each emptiness, you put a dent in me.

It’s worth repeating this line to kill

the meaning. Doesn’t work, like

bite your tongue, bark is worse than bite, bite

the bullet, I won’t bite. The wax

baptism of the moon, I write

moon too much, my teacher said. Write

anything else. These dents in me

couldn’t be moon or stars. What about a wax

museum? A President tipping his hat? Kill

the magical realism, although as I bite

through blood, that’s all I see. You like

too much — they have to be earned, like

these. See these here? When she writes,

we believe it. See how she uses bite?

For each emptiness, you put a dent in me

perhaps too figurative. At the end of kill,

a telephone pole’s resolve. Fog’s wax

& wane, the only slowness, clings in wax

mosquitoes. Texas fields unspool like

grass ribbons in flames. This will kill

me first, & last. The hardest to write:

For each emptiness, you put a dent in me,

a planet gaping volcanic. I take a bite

of splinters. I take a bite

of metal. Bites of glass. My heart, a wax

apple stuck with teeth. Please tell me,

has this one been earned? If like

is a hinge, what I am connecting? I write

his name down, then erase it. Kill

& live?


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