CCW Finalist, Poetry

Ruin: A Definition by Allison Joseph


Bruised carnality. Luxury of wishes.
Eccentricities of excess and lies.
What will come after the vanishing.
Covered eyes, open hands. Sleet
in the spine, broken barter. Language
of the photograph and history,
unraveling at each crinkly sepia edge.
Blistered lip ridge, serrated
like a knife, like a scissor. Caught
by duty, bound by sour, bought with sorrow,
by questions pistols answer. Mute pursuit.
Disciples spurned and spilled. Cartography
of ache, of dirge. Fortunes fractured.
In the study of what ails, insomnia
bitters. Dash of cement, hard in the
heart, that primitive piston, body engine,
corrupt arch, shivered spike in flesh.
Reign of last words. Last will, no testimony.
Not honey, not heat. Meltdown the sides.
Whistle where the holes go clean through,
where skulls dry hollow, no echo of voices.
Fragments to find in the ashes—bone chip,
metatarsal, fingerling, foundling. Orphan
hour. O how final this last apocalypse,
this martyrdom no one wanted.

Allison Joseph