Ecstasy Facsimile

By MARK ANTHONY CAYANAN

Longing to make his life compact as sushi, my shame
borrows the saint’s apron, shackles his swivel in her cincture. My shame
walks the earth with an electric blanket, goes to the gym to window-shop with
            it, heads for the hills where he takes selfies meditating. To the person
            on the bus who inquires, my shame
whispers, Am I burning? I am burning! My shame
has unrivaled courage, keeps it in a closet next to the toilet, air fresheners piled
            up like accusations. My shame
is a 17-minute thunderstorm, is leaves sticking to gravel, in the wind is hair
            finally freed from the tyranny of its combover. Lacking personality, my
            shame
is what he wears. When he reads, I’m voluptuous and lame, he declares, I’m
            sexy and helpless, adding, The grave that is my body has only ever
            known my shame
and its shadow, which is my body, both clingy as first love. Like a toothbrush,
            my shame
is without irony, meaning he wants to be vulnerable. He once thought of himself
            as so wicked that all heresies must be due to his sins. I know now this
            was a false humility, self-imposed to inspire in him the kind of guilt that
            presupposes responsibility. Nevertheless, my shame
soldiers on like a Victorian heroine, corset too tight, Clonazepam dosage never
            right, hyperboles ready to make light. My shame
takes a job as a projectionist so he can grow up to be a voyeur, my shame
reads romance paperbacks in secret and would rather spend his Sunday nights
            starching your shirts for the week. Years pass like gas, but the dream
            stays the same. Refusing to wear glasses, my shame
hails every available jeepney, squints in the cinema, picks heroes and Grindr
            buddies based on their baritone, my shame
devotes his impatience to the latest causes. He tunes in to an AM station and
            weeps at the horrible news, misfortunes he never has to inhabit. Every
            day shorn of wings I gnaw at the toenails of my shame.

 

Mark Anthony Cayanan is from Angeles City, Philippines. Their most recent poetry book is Unanimal, Counterfeit, Scurrilous. They obtained a PhD from the University of Adelaide, teach at the Ateneo de Manila University, and are a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Cultural Inquiry in Berlin.

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Ecstasy Facsimile

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