2 Poems by Ross Stager

Babylonian Shroud
After C.P Cavafy

The new royalty
invited me in
to a room I do not respect

& announced my role
as the status quo’s
most secret priest.

Violet silk carpet & pillows.
Gold trim on the walls.
What did the engravings say?
The engraving lined the top
of the walls. Pray I know
this language. I’ll act
as if I do
which amounts to the same thing.

In what manner did they choose
to knight me?

How dare I claim any pretensions
to know what is going on?

Or how to help?

How many friends can I walk away from
this with?

I guess that’s exactly what
they’ve figured. Having their name
lift my veil. It was so much
of the beautiful all at once
my mind went right straight
to the theatrical.

I blush. It is a blemish,
& my main failing. My face can pronounce
its embarrassment. Can you really
tell how I’m feeling
with a single gaze at my cheeks?
Am I that dreadfully transparent?
Flaring up is the extra sensory per-
ception I have for shame.

Nothing else left
to blame.

The belief is boiling.
Is this how one stews a proof?
All tastes involve the tongue,
which in this language may also be translated
as: Let’s get all tongues in on the taste!

What is a word that has you shook?
It’s true: I prefer to look
at you more than at my book.

What is a word that rhymes with sex?
Kissing foreheads, ear lobes, necks...

We lean in, touch
what’s puckered. The poem
is what heats the skin from under-
neath. From within.

Cry for Help!, or The Sky Is Falling & I’m Left All Alone Again

Holy unrecognizable brother!
Pontificate, Secret Documentarian.
The Chosen Mythologizer.
The ghost of formalism imposes,
& other structural apparitions.

The light hides behind the body’s
contract with shadow. I recede into you.
But for witness my own emergence.
The astral projection walks out propertied,
in loose dress, fused to threads of flesh.

In our most constant
of horrors we daydream
of afternoon catnaps
nuzzled into our favorite
difficult-to-love person.

Memory pricks your finger
while you work. Morning
& night cycle like in galleries.
Stirring confessionals hush.
Words just grasp, no, they shackle.

What has changed your face?
Time. What your soul, Jake?
Speak up! Speak to me.
Tables eternally overturning now.
I see, I see, your books, your beard.

Ross Stager is a student of philosophy and English at the University of Minnesota and works as a night manager at a small grocery store in the southern suburbs of Minneapolis. He has published poems in Otoliths, Alimentum, Inner Sins, and more. He has also published a short-story for The Bacon Review. Catch him on Twitter with the handle @RossStager.

Ryan De LeonComment