some roads to knowledge do not lead where knowledge lives  

cannot be explored by sugar-coated saints in white drapery     

paring their nights and days with tiny blades hair-thin and inoffensive endlessly polite    

the dream of correctness the dream of power to correct everyone around them   

one road down the border between two vast cornfields the grass dances in the rain          

another crossroads plaits the top of a hill the dusty center no man’s land of august crushed toad    

how practical these desiccations and saturations difficult to justify       

the avoidance of dung avoidance of doubt as though both unspeakable sins

land made into image of home is no home   

a stranger comes to town and tears it down wants to build thinks he has a right to remake the people          

build the new home he will sit in from the bones of the ones who do not yield   

he pulls a pelvis from each bearing person   

pushes his hands in there his cabin he pushes his stone in there his horse its rough cart he pushes his life in there      

his life fills the bodies of the people the lives he stole the bodies he stole          

before they know it there are many hundred thousand of him and still it is not enough     

to sustain him he says to others of him       

i will make of these people ships to use to bring other people to use to sustain me and everything that is mine and they too shall be mine    


and the days after that begin and end with the sound of an axe 


Jay Besemer is the author of the poetry collections Theories of Performance (The Lettered Streets Press, forthcoming 2019), The Ways of the Monster (KIN(D) Texts and Projects/The Operating System, 2018), Crybaby City (Spuyten Duyvil, 2017), Chelate (Brooklyn Arts Press, 2016) and Telephone (Brooklyn Arts Press, 2013). He was a finalist for the 2017 Publishing Triangle Award for Trans and Gender-Variant Literature. Find him online at and on Twitter @divinetailor.

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