come morning
he cleanses his hands
before praying
goat skull stringed to his forehead
hamsa amulet hanging down his chest

bronze bracelets fastened to his wrists
the river stream graces his feet

like the fur of a lion, he was
camouflaged in the desert sand
black lightning streams over a white sky
he cuts cactuses with gold daggers
sharpens his blades while sitting on sour apple trees
in solitude, the dew thickens over the lake

the sandstorms ripen their plague

he chants without end, nude and glistening

born inside of the deepest of caves

glowworms illuminating the limestone walls
vampire tarantulas burrowed
under his pillow as he half-rested

two eyes closed and his third eye open
slimy papaya melts between his fingertips

his sister nudges his shoulder with a stick

hungry and afraid of the ten-foot demons

he transforms into a spotted hyena

and eats them

regurgitating their corpses back to her

before he dives into the river
clouds of mist steaming over it
all a part of the eternal prayer
swimming back into the cave

to feed his sister with
the mammoth that he killed
from there to his settlement
a current in the desert stretches out
from one quasar to the other

sister has nightmares of killer whales

swimming over the dunes

where cemeteries glide like arcus clouds over her head

horns of the apocalypse blaring in anger

her right arm rattles against its will

swelling, turning purple, nerves at war with each other

and all he wants is for the medicine he made

to heal her, tying lemon balm to her wrists

he stitches lavender wands into her blankets

and fathers heart also weakens

singing out of rhythm

no medicine or blessing to mend him

who else can carry their truth

and meanwhile, he dreams of being trapped

naked as a younger boy inside of a viola case

the instrument playing one solitary note inside his chest

krrrrrrrnnnnnnnn, like a metal fist crushing his entire body

and all his hand-carved knives are plunged into his forehead

the torment of a monsoon broke out as the boy hyena

was out on his hunt, gathering his killings in a pile

stacks of chopped burning cedarwood near a waterfall

skeletons of elemental demi-gods scattered around him

remnants of their bone fluids glow and taste like honey

boy preying, festering, but pensive as he lingered in hunger

his thin and fragile chest on top of the highest limb of a pine tree

he sharpened the steel blade of his knife with his teeth

gazing down at his prey, the thousand-pound albino alligator

and as he came down to kill it, a lion-man scalped it with him

the beast lashed out its tail as its guts spilled into the black lake

and the two of them came to know each other through telepathy

smooth lightning splitting trees in half all over the forest

hymns of thunder give way to lull them through the night

the hyena-boy gifted him the severed alligators head

they tore apart a venomous seadragon and shared it between kisses

killing, cleaning, feasting, the ritual of festering in mounds of blazing gore

and then allowing the holy rain to rinse it all away

the lion ripped open the boys cotton waistcoat in a fevered temperament

its buttons breaking off and dropping onto the goldenrod mushroom fungus

and they rested among the sordid mud and guts, embraced in bedraggled fur

pit vipers attempting to coil around them as they become like crest and trough

the lion’s golden armor of glimmering stars shattered into glass into dianthus flowers

his heavyset body dragged down to lather the boys dick; three fingers thrusted into his ass

the heavier it rained the faster he thrusted into him, and when a calm breeze came by

he pulled out, letting his seed explode over the hyena’s muzzle, some over his eyelids

prayer, marriage, today, now, this is forever, they say together

the next day, he brings forth all the kill with his husband back to his folks and ancestors

for his twentieth birthday,

his mother gave him new pants

stained with saffron and cardamom powder

and a silk shirt with a hundred gleaming beaded evil eyes sown to it

his lion-lover attached feathers to the curls in his brown hair

kneeling together beside a field of sleeping stegosauruses

each of their plates painted in different vibrant colors by his father

kabbalistic symbols etched into their ivory tails

couldn’t this be forever sister, mother, father, my lover

but it isn’t because the earth is churning to dust

not G-d but insects working together to crush an hourglass

as sacrifice, a brother, a son, a lover

lays his back over a jagged mossy boulder

the masked medicine ladies banged their drums

from each side of his bandaged ears

black smoke from bowls of clay drifted through

his nostrils as they cut apart his clothes

shaving off each hair particle, keeping them for later

jars with sweat, sperm, excrement, urine, tears

and a circle of vultures paraded around him

for his father, he peeled out his heart

for his sister, the veins in his wrists

the nerves that she needed in his spine

he plucked them all out like wisteria flowers

for his lover, his kidneys, his intestines

he scooped and dissected it all for them that he loves

devitalize his young and healthy body

carefully flay his smooth skin

dispense it to them

and the ladies remained until the vultures had cleaned the flesh

from his bones and then they molded his remains into powder and dust

to scatter from the peak over a fluttering halo hovering above the lake he was born into

          three scarlet blood moons screamed his name into the gemini constellation

          galaxies on life support wept out crushed planets

          unhinged melting galaxies collapsed into supernovas

           and his eternal soul of unsuppressed love


                                                         spread itself

from one quasar                                        to another          

Damien Ark is a self-taught outsider writer that specializes in transgressive LGBT+ work. He has no degrees in literature and has taken no workshops. His first novel, Fucked Up, will be out sometime in 2020.

*Image credit: Artwork by Damien Ark