Heir Apparent

Issue #5: November 2012

The Wine-Dark Sea | Mathias Svalina

The Wine-Dark Sea

I want to answer questions:

what the date wants

from its box,

printed in red, a bright


The concerto

cast a morning

on me beneath

all the bridges

where the ropes dangle.

I cannot stand

inside myself.

What emerged

when I opened my mouth

was a thanking tomb.

So we tremble.

Do we tremble?

We tremble.

The Wine-Dark Sea

Asking is easy

for a number,

viral & tilted.

Words are burdens.

Mouths lumber.

I should not be afraid

of myself: a little

perpetuity with arms,

a comb whose teeth

are all bent back.

Around me the white

draws a ring, a one.

The Wine-Dark Sea

The hum, yes,

that corruption.

That rot

at play.

Beneath me, Easter.

Meanwhile, I am very difficult.

Meanwhile, a PO Box.

The Wine-Dark Sea

I almost died

like a letter

never posted.

The glue

crisp & brittle.

I needed it later

but by then

each word


in quotation marks.

The Wine-Dark Sea

I breathe

with the gate &

I breathe

with the light

& not only with it.

This is repetition.

I breathe the


the uninterruptible


of no money

that we really love.

The Wine-Dark Sea

Bed of rain,

bed of fur,

voices bent in wire,

margins trimmed

to night.

The scriptorium’s walls

when touched.

Despite it all,

I am making an effort

at humanity.

In the future, I’d like

to look back

on the next chapter of this life

as “The Quiet Storm.”

The Wine-Dark Sea

Always casualties

of our educations:

the beautiful line,

the glossy rind.

My utopia opens

from both directions.

My problem is that

I’ve never not been able

to write.

The Wine-Dark Sea

The periphery

is interconnected.

Enter any blackness

& emerge in any nowhere.

Every nowhere

has blood.

The location changes but

there is only one Michael.

The Wine-Dark Sea

I am a stone heated

until it sheds

a skin of charred dust.

But the past,


grunts & buoys.

Memory draws back

with dangling lips.

These unreal

reasons to write,

to say, straight true.

It is already a month

since I was

in the hospital.

Like everything in letters

there is only a little

& then ligature.

The Wine-Dark Sea

Come back, the with

of memory upends

the feeble balance.

Come back to ants

swarming up legs,

a pool of urine

on the kitchen floor.

Failure configured

into bent pine & incense.

The Wine-Dark Sea

I dig three points

in the frozen dirt & set

a small fire inside.

Wherever there are two things

there are three things.

The Wine-Dark Sea

Washed up in the island

that speaks a language

I can only understand.

Twelve years of service.

Long life is easy

on an island,

where a wish

is anything rotting

on the shore.

The Wine-Dark Sea

Let us not count the days.

I drink from both sides of the glass.

There is a sickness

& below, only

violin strings, accord,

& beneath, the dusty streets.

It is more horrible to imagine it

than to see it. We do this

every day.

The Wine-Dark Sea

Night rises

from the slit veins

of mown lawns.

Every song emerges

from the sea. Just as

every word lies

beneath the dirt.

And the music

makes the dancers

move together.

You should dance

if you want to dance.

And you can dance

as the devil dances.

The Wine-Dark Sea

Yes. Make margins.

Appear in the city

like sun-slits.

By night the lights

of downtown

loom & the patients

down their pills.

I am turning

but where is it going?

What I need is a chord

of bright light.

It is not a disappearance.

It is waiting.

The Wine-Dark Sea

I wanted nothing.

And never got it.

And now I want to want

a home for homes.

What was missing

was an of-margin.

Still I need

more maps.

A long work of logic


Desire is precarious.

Eventually I did that.

The Wine-Dark Sea

A brightly lit classroom,

an ageless crawling sun:

error is not the problem.

Another obligation,

another bomb scare

& the window propped

with a faded soup can.

Surveillance, punishment, shame:

why are you so small

Marx, Freud, Rimbaud, etc. ?

The Wine-Dark Sea

The wrinkles around my eyes

& my cracked teeth: finally

some objective facts!

What I am scared of most

is never transmitted.

If I had will

I’d be dead.

But I can’t remember when

I decided I would kill myself.

It happened all at once,

not like a levee breaking,

more like a car, at the end

of a workday, turning off the road

& pulling into a driveway.

The Wine-Dark Sea

This nowhere pulses

as a stuck key, so many things

inhabit it emptyingly.

I try to think with.

To feel clouds in each

piece of paper. Again,

these long days of white moths

rising around each footstep

fatigue. I don’t want

to give up, to feel

the clouds scratch

my throat.

I am thinking,

in our dayskin,

always thinking.

The Wine-Dark Sea

I know the curses

that bones speak.

I know the narrow

blessings of the dark.

It’s hard to be seen

through microscopes.

It is hard.

It is

the doubled exile of home,


You, see my hands,

see my wrinkled face,

those too an opening.

Hold me in you.