Joshua Aelick


My Fathers would have you believe
I was a barcode baby,
fingerprints all straight
& scanned, a baseball-

&-apple-pie boy, the kind
of kid you could stamp
on a Mercury dime & trade in
at the gun & coin show

for a Don’t Tread on Me
flag & a slingshot.
The truth is I was pressed
from the haze where a rusted-out sunset

met the last bastion of blue sky,
that my lovers are still lost
in the steaming labyrinths
of my lip prints on their inner

thighs, that I wake to vulture
& phoenix feathers between my sheets,
weave them into my skin,
offer up chicken of the woods

at the braziers at Cypress and Cyllene.
When my Fathers tell you how quickly
I ran the pilgrim’s marathon from Athens
to Calvary, don’t listen.

One night, I stole like a thief
out of Jerusalem. Lingered
on the threshold of the Golden Gate
as if between the faces of Janus.

The stones decried my departure
all the way to the Hellespont.
Yes, I’m creatine Robigus,
bending my knees in the squat rack

until I’m confessing,
but in truth I sweat out no sin;
become no holier.
My Fathers did not want a son.

They wanted a trifold effigy
of corn husks, mower parts, general
store cologne. My Fathers
did not get the son They claimed

to want. Instead, They got an oracle
who gnashes their teeth at the fungicidal futures
they see rising in the chasm’s spores,
& missing, bites down on the insides

of their cheeks; bleeds luciferin.