Samuel Ace

His face the rock cliff

His face the rock cliff   a place of views   his face a shelter   a barn   a loyal brother full of lips   his face in aging   a mirror and a protest his son not yet amplified   his fingers on the keys   in the carvings a boy   a lawn   a dog   in the carvings a house   his hand in the dark his one pale cheek

An empty vessel of dreams   so vivid a moment ago   now driven underground   his pale hand cradled in a chair with the tides   lists into blue folders   scattered books and long-dried figs   rips at the crust of sour bodies and ruminant hairs   protected from the rising waters by a garden in the backyard   perhaps a pool   a solid yellow couch   a green weather

A whole trunk of prayer flings across the air   a green hush of his   a simmer of trains   he steps from the road onto a berm and into the grass   packed up and furnished   out of the way in the wash and the winter of a red glossy car   the musk of corners   the copper creek the frogs   he rides a motorcade through a long squeeze of tar to a tiny mansion made out of trust and quilts and gently patterned sweaters

Gently patterned in the mirror   beneath a blue and velvet gown where blood still falls from his cunt   a gown so long he must watch how he walks in his patent leather shoes   he fears he will win   drunk in a tight red dress   unformed and bare-assed on a New York night passing out and coming to in a restaurant   walking the city streets barefoot or is it his sister’s wedding   or is it yesterday   a shawl draped across his shoulders   not a boy   not an elf   not that girl at the piano   not that man still too skeletal to shout   he walks naked in wonder

Shaking in the coffee shop   naked with the grinding of beans   finger on the phone   a boy across the table   his linen shirt and his hat in the sun   perhaps a relative from the hills of Transylvania   a skinny man full of future   full of legs and full of hearts

It’s a well goddamn it   a well full of legs   a long shaft into a world under this world   he is submerged   no sides to stand on or grip   he kicks desperately   looking for a place to rest   he sinks in the narrow dark   a disk of light high above   the last he sees of an earthly day

An arm hits the paper   a page of earth without lines or coherence just the tap the tap   a typewriter on the back of a camel drives him from the mud onto a carpet to the large-sized boy-sized man   the thickness of him before the west   the rock of him turned into a deadly mass   he stands with a rifle   arms flailing against a house of sudden men   a house of institutions   a house of god

He chooses a little cube of air beneath a house of dirt   where the taste of dirt   where the smell of dirt and wormy gas   where the grit of dirt sails into his skin   where the dirt of puss and the dirt of hands and the dirt of barter and the dirt that enters through the dirt of pale moles   the daily dirt lying in caves   the ghost of dirt   the turning of bats in barns   and then the clouds and the dust that is left in the clouds

Samuel AceSamuel Ace is the author of three collections of poetry: Normal Sex, Home in three days. Don’t wash., and most recently Stealth, with poet Maureen Seaton. He is also a photographer and sound artist and is a two-time finalist for a Lambda Literary Award in poetry, winner of the Astraea Lesbian Writer’s Fund Prize in poetry, the Katherine Anne Porter Prize for fiction, and the Firecracker Alternative Book Award in poetry. A recent finalist for the National Poetry Series, his work has been widely anthologized and has appeared in or is forthcoming fromAufgabe, Fence, The Atlas Review, Black Clock, Mandorla, Versal, The Collagist, Troubling the Line: Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics, Best American Experimental Poetry 2016, and many other publications.

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