the every tree by John Compton

“while transitioning through each breath

at mouths playing back recordings:

welcome to life-after


you endure
until fire quits burning 
on your wrists


there is a form to the body 
that is shapeless.
the skin fragments 
like paint on an antique
vase. peel back skin 
to make blood but not to bleed out:
let the inner self relax.
the straight razors dash is brisk,
two lateral strips. the gist:
to become one with the dream. 


you wear maggots
like rice earrings. eat
eyes like oysters,
suck them from the socket
of the shell. salt
dehydrates until your skin 
hugs bones.your tongue dilapidated 
than teeth release. 
lips fall
from the jaw.
hair still grows across
your chest. you become

half asleep, half amazed
you woke. seams
on your wrist are newly scabbed.

from placenta 

poured onto the floor
naked & cleansed.

the dark birth 
purified him

washed dusk
from his eyes

opened the throat 
& lungs inflated

so, like an infant,
he can cry up phlegm —

this war is over
is just begun.

you stumble into panic,
crawling across the yard 
like a spider. on hands 
& knees, you traverse over grass.
where is it that you’re escaping to?
nails root into the ground
as earthworms:
wild & covered in slime.
your eyes dance until they are focused.
your mouth is pregnant with a tongue 
that will forgive you for drying up 
like a stone that will crush your skull 
& someone will find it as a mistake 
carrying you home like a pulled tooth.
your limber cock, that swinging 
pendulum like a trunk
an extension that will grow outward
as a limb
it rubs the skin, slaps the belly,
past dogs & cats & into the claustrophobic 
abstract landscape of ghost shapes 
mistaken for rotting darkness:
her breasts prepare to feed you. 
they burst; a river erupts in milk. 


when he slips
 through the density
of weeds
everything becomes heavy.

he strikes a match.

he hears birds
like hacksaws
cut through leaves:
branches shake
while a leaf
loosely fumbles
to the ground. 

he catches it
like a death-head moth,
carefully —
it tips off the edge
& driftsto the ground

a snack.

she sucks it
into her mouth. he froze
as her teeth
vanish in darkness.

he strikes a second match.

his ears turn
focusing on her jaw
in its midst
of crunching leafy-bone.


red stalactites
recede from inside his wrist
& go after her tongue 
like bayonets,
ripping out chunks
& what is left 
back into her mouth.


startled, he drops the third match 
into brush
& everything catches fire.


the tree’s tops
have settled into igniting
like wick

& her hair burns
& her skin melts 

& the ground swells
below him& shifts.


under the first layer
of thick charcoal mud —

a pine box. 

his heavy black foot
impels the lid.
a section of face 
laughs underneath. 

death’s deceased tongue:
“i have cut you down with yourself.”
dying rearranged his morning
& called him back to his dissolution.

bit down too hard.

coming untethered

stud bystud, the realism
falls loose
& that is where

he found the surface
of hell
through the heavy

of diluted

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