Two Poems

Tim Liardet

Empath to the Punctured Kevlar Helmet

World is the head inside. The jump of the optic nerve.
Its Uzis are genteel. Its arbiters are deaf.
Add to it the lips that are less a grin than a grave.
Its guns hang like salamis. Though they are bereft
of protein they somehow often seem to bleed.
They’re tagged with the tenderloins. The new Pietà
is now only hands with no body to be lowered.
World is the otiose oils. It is the stigmata.
I am the lopsided and the flagrant heart
pierced by all the needles the blowpipes blow.
World burns in my acids. It is too much fat,
too much glucose. I offer it a stomach that by now
can only manage honeydew and cantaloupe;
I offer it hunched self, hair-fall. My baby tooth.

Your spinal reflex, coddling at its base the warmest ever spot,
so tiny, says: withdraw. It feeds your despair
through the reed of the street-player’s clarinet.
It is the mirror neuron, which looks at the war
and finds a war more terrible looking back.
It is gene and cloned cell. Whatever littlest grief
is a magnified self, which lowers, then cranes its neck.
Better, says the reflex, to feel nothing, if
every cell in you is someone else’s yell.
If the oily chain seems to make it hesitant
the lift that heads down, heads up. It is full
of black flowers. The narrow streets of existence
are all tight corners and tall trucks.
They are both through-routes. And cul-de-sacs.