Two Poems

By Marshall Mallicoat

 

Speak, Father
I became ancient in my own lifetime,
a life now splintered into anecdotes.

I've bent my wisdom toward the thankless task
of getting money, piling up the filth.

My office has no window but the mail slot,
a leering mouth with grime around its lips.

It's to this house of wax I nail my grievance.
(I'm free to write this bile since none will read.)

Our forebears criticized this fallen nation
to grant us license to dismantle it.

Speak, father. Tell me how you used to smolder.
Recount the failure of the Leveling.

Remind me how we came, saddled with tears
of shame, to live in cities without children.

 

Sickbed of Emperor Cuitláhuac
To see is to use and in using to find
the tool's end, and yours by way of it.
Underneath layers of sheets and heavy down
I am too hot to think and lay in languor.
There is a thing I desperately wish to say
but cannot find a place in which to pin it.

Legions descend on me to abuse my illness,
surrounding my bed and posing me with riddles.
I have no answers. I sweat and roll my eyes
searching the purple face of my tormentor.
The candle's wick diminished to a nub
issues one final belch of greasy smoke.

I am the lord and emperor Cuitláhuac,
and I am now among the dead.

Marshall Mallicoat is a poet from the Kansas River valley. Their poems have appeared in Queen Mob's TeahouseNY Tyrant, Electric Literature, and elsewhere. Marshall lives in Chicago where they work with computers. You can find them online at marshallmallicoat.com