Here’s a conversation about temptation.
The voices are oracles. Water and blood.
Here, rivers of concrete. A new language
Of feeling is born. We breathe through
Immaculate ivory, ages deep air.
Breath from the Earth.
Celestial bone, temperature
Of fire yesterday, dreaming words
In California, where we hear the silver
Shot wind. We make night hours.
Ponder the old Adam. Inherent.
Learned. Imagine the first time
Adam and Eve surrendered lips to
Mouth and fingers and pushing
Hips and pulling, God forgotten,
Finally, ragged, helpless,
Looking and looking, knowing?
Maybe it was nothing like that.
Maybe they were not afraid of God
Until it didn’t matter anymore.
Knots of muscle light the palm.
Her skin turns red where he touches her.
I know there’s no such thing as silence.
Not like you can keep a secret from God.
My chest is this heart-hardened tree
Where I have written this poem already,
Where I meet failing images, bird-sounds,
Appling haunted Eden, tumbling lost parts
That occasionally fit themselves into place,
And set the duration of another poem, or
Another reason to get naked. They describe
Touching the faces of letters with dirty
Fingers, like language was skin, then,
When God was a word, Skid Row
Sensuality in the air before them, flesh-color
ABC fingers. How I lost myself and
Hear myself walking again. What is this
Sound? I can hear drunk music around
Superwoman. Tango suicide, hunters
Somewhere, hunting us. Love is a rhyme.
The dragon is coming like a whisper.
How can I find you, you speak so quietly?
Is your mouth flesh or words?
What would it be like, kissing a ghost?
Do you hitchhike my city, begging
The necks of alleys with churning hips,
Turning breathless to the throat of the high-
Backed alcohol-sweating towers, peaks,
Balustrades, and other human parts rising,
And watch the windows where slow-blinking
Eyes of identity, graven, run a reel-to-reel out
On the pale fruit of the moon?
I’m thinking this way. There’s danger here.
I know rock and roll comes on like tongues
Unfolding, flags of unseen countries inside
Us, planted through tender prisms
Of skeletal nakedness, madness, numbness,
My urge to fuck you, to jazz on-top the low
Ceiling of reality, to ameliorate a million
Manic fiber optics, wires cast in flesh, skin-rubber,
And a non-duplicable eye. Here then, this land
Of robotics, America, the Wild West, Los Angeles,
The shore, these coordinates in Cartesian space,
This skin, these angels of feeling where I stand
And read the wind, and have my urge to push you up
Against the motherboard, and have my life in you,
And your urge to see the future. One and zero.
There’s definitely something happening.
He throws a fist into a sky full of flowers.
Her lips steal syllables softly. They vanish
And reappear from her mouth, meandering
And doing little more than indicating meaning,
But bending the bars of the sound off-true.
Tell me your most useful lies, the kind
We can both feel sympathetic about.
They are not conceits. They are miraculous
As the talking children we walk hand in hand
With on Venice Beach, who spill and fall and
Are incomplete as the war you fight on sun-lit
Sand, pretty and so awful, strange in your
Atmosphere of floating dragon kites.
The war you’re fighting is against them all,
All the way to the hall of folding
Flags of countries you imagine as red-rimmed
And fiery roses, but are only green-swaddled hills
Running without a breath for flowers
Crowned at a distance further than our
Need to overcome it. I look for answers,
Like I look for you in unusual angles, like this verse,
Your grand literary war continues despite me,
Inspires oddness of my own, presaging coming
Centuries of your weird attention and how
I’ll perhaps evolve someday to understand the noises
Of your poetry, the bellied sway of feeling,
The taste of circumstance, the men and women
Circumscribed to walking Sunset, for love’s sake,
Forever Eden, Hollywood Boulevard,
Coming to terms with never knowing love’s center,
And the argument we’re having now,
About the passion of young Adam and Eve,
And weeping Joan of Arc and how Mona Lisa came
To where we follow steps of flesh
Like a red carpet leading into the premiere of yesterday.
Tomorrow, every day of light split into a thousand
Pointing, painting and reaching illuminations
On the East Side, and South-Central, and the Valley,
Word-stranger, and sell themselves in silent protest
Of knowing too much about the future. There’s
An internal logic there. Keep it simple.
Poetry is the absence of silence. Love is only
The absence of self. Death is the absence of God.
I don’t fight your war but I know you, remember.
The language of God is loving and fucking is
Rock and roll and Los Angeles electric church is
The starry old wooden dynamo of dice
Ever tumbling on white felt, magic pipes
Huffing love unusual, the blur of a good high,
All your lack-of-feeling aligned and polarized,
Touching where you can’t touch, eyes all different
Shades of earth. There is no answer, not in a poem,
Not in this poem, anyway, Only more questions:
Who was Walt Whitman? Will you be my angel?
Does joy run from the shallow well you drink of,
Metallic water something unearthly and changing
Your relationship with your guts temporarily,
Putting a cold magnet to your forehead and drawing
Thoughts of living, laughing, and the place in you
Where all the wars finally rise up, to your skin,
So we use colored markers to draw maps
Of the places you visit most, till your body
Is covered in ancient mother runes and
You look at last like an oracle to me, servant of Pentacles,
The stone eye in the heart of earth, swirling, a chance, genesis
Of all the roads to God and the Devil, face of original war,
Eyes bright with fear, the day religion was born,
And gave us the tyranny of the soul. The soul!
Perhaps the topography of California itself may provide
Direction, an overlay to navigate treacheries in your skin,
There are the ranges and the valleys like yours, and LA
Is very dirty like money-paper, like you, and my heart,
The map in my irises leading elsewhere and the future
Thinking of nothing but yes, yes, like every dollar has a soul,
Every dollar tests positive for Cocaine, every dollar is
A story we tell, and the grass here doesn’t try, and the
Mirrors are all very clean because we lick them
And lay the map over your body to find a secret
Route through burning avenues and so we follow you
Now, you know the way. Everything is on fire.
We have to leave. Are you listening, Eve?
The gate is closing. Where will you lead?
Here then is a conversation about temptation.
The voices are oracles. They speak with your mouth.
Hungry. They are speaking now.
Adam Ai is a U.S. Army veteran from Los Angeles, California, of Puerto Rican and Basque Heritage. He has previously been published in Chiron Review, Kanstellation, Thorn Literary Magazine, Ninshar Arts, South Florida Poetry Journal, Art Times Journal, Ancient Paths Christian Literary Magazine, Abstract: Contemporary Expressions Magazine, Pointed Circle, and Xenith. Connect with him on Twitter @AdamAiPoems.