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Two martyrs stalked the earth
almsgiving equally
so neither knew the other
was capable of competition
until the first martyr sacrificed
his life before the township
by jumping into a fire pit.
Some said the second martyr
inspired by his friend’s decision
faced the pit and lit himself on fire.
After the first martyr saw this act
he was immediately resurrected
only to end his life once more
by lighting his body on fire
then jumping from the tower.
The town gasped as suddenly
the second martyr reappeared below
afire and shaking the tower until
its shattered stones covered him.
This cycle of sacrifice went on
for so long the two turned
into an attraction for travellers.
Soon they were not considered
to be martyrs anymore
but brothers whose punishment
for misusing fire
was to continue misusing it.













A horse has six legs
two belong to a man
who might be Pluto
disguised as the devil
abducting a unicorn
who is not the unicorn
whose horn was used
to purify a spring
that whetted the infinite
behind us now













The remedy for your ruminations is bedbugs.
When you acquire bedbugs
you are blessed
for you only have one problem,
like when you’re addicted to drugs.
When you’re addicted to drugs,
your problem is being addicted
to drugs. And bedbugs, like drugs,
divide your life.
You are thinking of them when you’re not
thinking of yourself. Thinking of yourself
leads to rumination, your reaction
to distress involving bedbugs.
Look upon your life as not bare
when you consider theories.
You do not live a bare life,
one without rights. An exception,
the bedbug is a daemon,
a nymph sent, like a dream, to connect you
to a history of visual communication;
for we understand as much about invisibility
as we do DSL technology.
The shadow of the bedbug remains
on your sheets when they are white,
like calligraphy from other worlds,
ideograms writ in shit
instead of clay, which seem to convey
that bedbugs, like Sumerians, are responsible
for one of the earliest systems of writing.
A bedbug smashed on its mattress
signs its will in your blood,
the same way they did centuries ago
with the limbs of kings, and gods
who took the form of human beggars.
Beggars who did not own freezers,
like mine, filled with clothing removed
when I got home from the movies.
I shook my pants over the bathtub.
Then folded, I slid them
between my jacket and shirt
where, if I had any, ice cream should be.

Amanda asked me to write this poem.
She said, write about something
you do everyday, something domestic.
I go to the grocery store when I can’t
make eggs with what’s in the fridge,
but I fill my freezer with clothing
as often as I leave the apartment.
My rite. I signed a contract with life
that states: a chair covered in fabric
is a divine throne of the city you visit
when sitting down and when you go,
you leave with an echo of that seat.
Once I brought a bedbug home.
The proportion of its body to mine was nothing
compared to its power upon my thoughts.
They use the stars and clouds and wind
to guide their way into your mind.
When you Google “what does a bedbug
look like pictures,” you are not Googling
yourself. In an image, the brown back
of a fifth stage nymph shines
like a mushroom
intoxicated by the effulgence of wet dirt.
Is mud the timetable of blood?
Mud is the roof of the underworld.
The underworld’s unpeopled palace
is colder than I thought, but nothing wretched
belongs there. If nothing is wretched,
thoughts misled me with my permission.
The bedbug is where it belongs, a body
was built to be vanquished. Trust the lovers
of beds and bodies. We hardly know
whom we’ve slept with. Somewhere else
a mosquito survives August by killing
a child who just learned cursive.
They don’t teach cursive anymore.
The coldest moment of morning
is when I put on my jeans, especially my thumb
touching the button. During that ecstatic instant,
looking at its imprint on the frost,
I think only of usefulness.













The god that writes a letter
sleep mails
sows our lids with images.

I dreamt a twin
who dreamt my dream
which did not mean
the same to her.

She had my mouth and
taught it how I speak
to fool myself.

She convinced me to
conceive the angel
all things undisturbed
owe their unwanting.








Alan Felsenthal

Alan Felsenthal runs a small press called The Song Cave ( with Ben Estes. They co-edited A Dark Dreambox of Another Kind: The Poems of Alfred Starr Hamilton. His first collection of poems is forthcoming from Ugly Duckling Presse. 


The Brooklyn Rail

DEC 15-JAN 16

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