SUBMISSION - Quentin James Reynolds Poems


Poems » quentin (james) reynolds » submission


for Mark and Debra: Malleus Maleficarum

The ground was never recovered, nor the legions, for their numbers were
thought so ill omened that they never again appear in the army lists.

–  J. M. Roberts

It begins with Diane – the gold shingles of her razored hair
alight in the wind that whips the trees,
the cotton slips pinned to nylon lines: these improbable ghosts.

The first I ever loved can still incite such desperation. Betrayal
lashes the careful stitches, the slight fabric;
its design undone.

She would take her switchblade and cut spiders in half --
a quadrant of scars radiating from her wrists and elbows, she wrote
      my name in blood,
let matches flare against the cuts

small yellow head, searing. I used to operate on myself, she said.
Separate a triangle of skin and place objects -- silver pin
heads, glass beads   close to the bone.

A private surgical kit, embroidery scissors, alcohol, fine needles, and
violet thread; silk, cat whiskers tied in complicated bows. She
remembers this way, where things are

where they are buried. We studied history together, this is how we
      met. Recovering the Roman
Empire; she draws military disasters in her margins, mail clad
      horsemen pitching
violently to the ground, the movement of the cavalry

a swarm of locusts. Her silver compact slit open, because there are
       assassins in the narrow hallway;
her fine pale feet turn to form an arabesque (a delicate
       design of flowers,
leaves), furrows in the sheets and mattress,

pearls. Ropes of black pearls and a black rubber dress -- submerged in
       the green haze,
the depths of a nightclub, listening. Submission; she hit his thighs
       with a chain, a hook in his mouth

her lips were alluring. Red feather quills, bright red flies. I think of
      him, brought violently
to the surface, his tensile body still below the thin edge of the filleting
his slick flesh streaming as he surrenders -- a ceremony of scales and
      gills, useless to him now,

as he breathes in and out. She told me once that she was like a
       scorpion, and I did not listen.
I let her creep between my fingers, and danger was exotic to me then. I lived
       somewhere deep
beyond the coastline, in the crevices of rocks and wood planks,

her gold hair spins like loose coins, strange and valuable. The
       currency of nightmares, where
the sun burns the earth and empties the seas -- there are skeletons, gingerly
       reaching for night

night will fall in a rustle of wings, the gentle sweep of the legs of