The Human Body Falls at a Rate of 32 Feet Per Second (Per Second) by Ariana D. Den Bleyker

The Bed Empty; the Floor Waxed with Moonlight

He leans into the girl on the right, smile tucked
in between the words of his angled jaw & I imagine

writing his introduction, his lips moving, me misspeaking
his name. That I could lay my arms down

beneath him praying not to be christened
& he’d never speak of this. I cannot see anymore.

That I’m the things he’s forgotten, the disbelief
in God, in scars. That our mouths are filled

with permanence, heavy with moisture, weighted
down, wet & wayward. How quickly love ripens

then grieves. I want to be the space between
sunset & sunrise, a place where sleep wraps

itself around curves of bone & sinew, the sharp
of it handing my heart to me, reddened with teeth-marks,

drained, willing to make whole the desperate parts.
That I’ll keep what’s decent, won’t dance,

sing with the crowd, feel the music open my ears.

Human Body as Blunt Instrument

It is possible this will end badly. That I could drag you down
to the seabed between rock & whalestone

& teach you your consequences, your damage, your dead.
That I could split iron like crocus, swallow words

like nails, build walls of mud & mortar to withstand your pounding.
That I might count the seconds of night, count flash to thunder,

might give up ground for low sky,
thick air, might extend a willing neck or tongue.

That I believe words applied correctly can move walls
& reset clocks. That I’ve sealed my own with wax,

dug & pulled rocks like teeth from the earth
until my fingers bled, sowed them in pots

& waited & watched until they sprouted,
until a glare cast itself in the stale sky. I believe

anything I wish for can come true if I stand
in a corner & not think of you. I don’t think of you;

I can’t think of a wish.

When the Heart Slows to Nine Beats per Minute

This dream of flying has no sex in it. My body is echo
resounding the voices of a thousand small birds,

composed of sound, super string, atoms vibrating,
emptying, whirling drunk & exposed, spiraling outward

from a singular center while I’m broken open. Impact waits
like a revocable feeling, a snake eating

its own tail, a careless circle swallowing itself whole.
We own the sky.

Your words have taught me syllables of silence,
left me wanting with my bleeding

tumor & darkening blood, nothing

at all containable. Perhaps time makes holy grails
even of stone in the sharp division

between the upward turning, a peculiar raised rawness
in the darkness before dawn,

before the fall that will make my broken bones
believe Hell’s angels have no wings.

Until then, I’ll bark like a fox, climb
the mulberry tree, be a great fool,

become that finger, breathe this breath.


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