The Gilded Frame

Madame de Loynes by Amaury-Duval (photograph taken by the poet)


In the shadow-flood of twilight’s purgatory, when halide stains the shuttered panes that seal out the light field’s glow and paints your skin with needle tracks of halogen

The latticework of gold that binds our silhouettes to plasterboard dissolves like dew shine on a lily’s tongue, but we stay tied to the pattern of our lives, captive to what we’ve become.

Once exiles of desire, now prisoners of addiction, and the enclave where your eyes shone bright as winter sun has dulled into a cage of neon.

There, my heart was chastised, sorely punished for its blasphemy, repeatedly wracked to breaking across the gap between the ideal and brute reality.


A baroque cheval glass edged by clasping vines, drip-fed by prismatic tears wept by Medusa chandeliers, confines in its jade numberless reflections that incline towards infinity

Puppets of desire that sway between ennui and perversity, too enamoured of the surface gleam to perceive the drag of unseen strings or the parallax error of autonomy.

A black stain spreads beneath our mirror of vermeil, eating through the laminate to peel silver from the chrome, and its pits of darkness undermine the blue enamel of your eyes.

There, my heart was crucified, half-revived by your Judas kiss and crucified again, condemned to endlessly expiate its sin but never purge its shame.


Luminous arcs of spray decorate the grand vitrines that shine above the linden colonnades, perfect mirrors of the fountain’s fall and rise, from the stasis of the apex

To the foaming basin where the sea nymphs glide. In the windswept plaza, lonely men wipe the spume from benches and stretch out their arms to embrace the void.

The waters churn with illusory change: the loop replays as recurrence or reprise, and Poseidon rakes the trash and scum from the vortex of the drain.

There, my heart was paralysed, numb with retrocausal grief and failure preordained, the long black worms of despair that rise from its wellspring and devour it from inside.


Beneath these bright façades, behind these dazzling screens, below the glistening snow of words, the torment of the heart ignites the alchemy of the soul

As in the depths of the lily pool, the milky flesh of the sleeping nymph coalesces into the dream image of the dragonfly, so the filament of the Poet’s spirit burns

To illuminate the arc lamp of his soul, scathing enough to scorch fallstreak holes in heaven’s dome and sear away the viscous mesh of destiny

Scattering beads from His rosary of fate like sparks cascading from downed power lines; I gathered up those lucent pearls and made each moment mine.


But now their lustre fades: to unbind the cross weave of His tapestry is to smear the meniscus of phenomena to which the soul adheres

And the surface tension cannot hold; the self-perpetuating transmutation drags me too far down, into the abyss behind the mirror, the chasm beneath the frame

The beauty of those moments just fissures in the pane, a rainbow across the coming storm that drives me like a rudderless scow into the maelstrom’s undertow.

Beyond the sternward rails, I see the shining path of wake recede, its radiant swirl darken to the spiral down, its glittering wavelets repossessed by a shoreless black sea.