indulgences

| Alani Hicks-Bartlett |

first in naples, now in rome,

i set out to swallow silver coins.

the pink charms of the sails and the paper blue spirits

are yours now.

even illness pierces the darkness.

all of your appalling kin look dimpled and glow

like soft white moths.

as they flicker together in the darkness,

bound by some secret, dark project of greed,

anger rises in my heart like a solitary uncharmed fish,

a current ignored, a morning overthrown.

many of your constituents are missing.

the hellhounds are on fire, ruthless.

this is a dukedom we have all begun to dislike,

all of our unchristened vanities have become appalling

and the white spiders, who were never truthful, begin to bite,

whispering that you must swallow your preconceptions

of good islands and indulgent women,

or barter them—cast them aside for the fatal, selfsame panaceas

and the prickly, governing spirits you’ve made us all choke down.

here, the only one you love faints away over time.

her stony meditation is zippered tightly around her

like a rigid burial cloth.

the blood that you pour down her throat

no longer causes the flutter of her eyes, of her veins.

the travelers have caused this.

now, she has traded an oxidizing throne for the gray,

suffocating corner, speckled with dust,

and the only indulgence she allows are shredded cloths,

assaults by kindred souls with their skeins of human flesh,

and the thousand unmentionable crimes.

the new liars have truly forgotten

that once, before the final war, you had begged for mercy,

with your gentle hands clasped,

and your snowy voice a froth of tears and sighs.

i sent what was left of my dark, seeping eye

to you by messenger,

to warn you of this fateful spell,

but the young headless boy lost his sail among the hoary rocks,

and drowned there again and again.

Alani Rosa Hicks-Bartlett is a writer and translator who lived in the SF Bay Area but now enjoys the Autumn foliage of the East Coast, where she finds herself increasingly in a nudiustertian mode. Some of her recent poems and translations have appeared in The Stillwater Review, IthacaLit, Gathering Storm, Broad River Review, The Fourth River, and Mantis: A Journal of Poetry, Criticism, and Translation. She is currently working on a collection of villanelles, a series of translations of love poetry from Portuguese and Medieval French, the complete works of the Italian writer Amalia Guglielminetti, and a collection of villanelles.

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