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Three Poems
Desert Map

This is where the sand meets the

collapse / the flat line / cove     

            a silver or brown hole

a line                that causes a fever            

the shrapnel    in my heel

my vast / his tooth

to my fang                   my fingertips cut

special knives             cut out of time / more            

purple / my own                                 in my head

that hole with the never

be aqua whorl hole

             may his low funeral

yours or mine I will not

say but for yes / that’s

true                  I direct the twelfth second

into you / or the math of it                  will just film down

you / in lines that confused                 be solved

for one / equation        which was mine

or yours / or exactly sparse

the claw / the that

would explain my

pounding / in holes

where the shakes come through / could be

thawed or thrown over the

edge / into the sea what was once

edge but not anymore / as the sands

dip this way / just so you know how

I was once a sphere / spoken in the most different

breed / of seeds in my throat which I put there

which you did not


Now we are drooping to a nondescript flower

                 We tip back
                       our glasses to smell
                              the water that was there 

                              the water that was faces  

            We count all the faces in silica
                        pressed into our bodies
                                            nothing moving

                        (but for the water
                        he poured) Once        

            he showed us
            his belly           a river god swimming
            around his feet             Don’t see
            the eventual dyad of rock
            between us     Oh me? I just saw
            parsley, skull, one coin I could hold
            another coin I couldn’t

            We carved his bed of marble we glazed          his ilium with soil    
                  we wished on his          earring holes       (what was looped
                  through is anyone’s guess)   


                        May we bite down
            may our enzymes mutate
            to ovals
            like being born all over
                       again                I address him
            from the hairs of a star
                       seeping out a tangle of blue which I
                                               undo and wind onto an even bluer
            edge of water

            then settled into


            Look at an alcove of marble then look again you’ll see a name
            now blue now bluesilver and not ever,
            my chylds, return home again


                                                                               a source
                                   of being born there is no stopping
                     no returning from a father-folded
                                                           matrix: gentle oval
                                                of body cut by triangles

                                                            which make us all roll in laughter,
            in the echoes of which we sit
                         and shave while he begins
                         to spin

                         oh, the little things he says



The head has antlers and a cut where something was removed,
a process you picture as you unravel the dressing,

picture it as handles you might grab onto and drive
away. How locked up do you think the skull was

when it could still shake, a peephole you catch yourself in
and see eyes through? A belly you reap for warm gold fleece

to throw over the tables of your home. Let’s say you live
on a ziggurat. You listen each morning for boots

ascending, sometimes a skid on the steps and through your grates
you see them, boots worn by the clubfooted, boots worn by

the swampers who suck at the quagmire, boots with spurs
that drag at the stone, cleaving a sound that balloons

up to you like a dump truck heaving by with a body
of dew, swallow of breath as it passes and leaves

in its wake a vapor, almond-scent—then a planet
pulled from underneath you. But no, you are

a baby viper, you are see-through, each morning the light
pours through and you say, come fuzzy vulture land on my head.

Christopher Janigian’s poems appear in Boston ReviewPEN America, and Prelude, among other places, and he holds degrees from Brown University and Columbia University.