“Then ’twas the Roman, now ’tis I.”

1. “Fingite me,” inquit, “mortuum esse. Dicite aliquid belli.”

I measured it, and there’s no telling:
where it frays you tie a knot.
For lacklustre boy who dreams of lustre
(will he ever pass muster?)
sitting will be told from standing
only at the plot.

(Ghosthead Napoleon, self-crowned in fury
O’erleaps the overleaf
Makes good the promises)

Although I thought I saw
as you lifted your shirt
a little worm sleeping through your intestines
that was but a passage, a coda marked with pity—
“First, imagine that I’m dead – then say something pretty.”

Whatever song you sing, you’ll be forever foreign.
This one’s for your birthday
and this one is to grow on.

4. Mortua heic ego sum et sum cinis

Hold still, hold still!
(an effigy of this body, burned)
and cling to your disease, for the remedy is terse
Delay the day that we will float
behind the slated hearse

Claim a place among the ashes
untethered, fecund, robed in passage,
nostrilling aflutter;
one affect for all together

’Til then a poor, bare, unfucked animal—
but if she comes this way, act casual
Peel no eyeball lest it be spurned.

So bounded in a nutshell
the prince of peanut dust
may think his prick a thorn
to the wretched paw returned.




Tadzio Koelb has lived in France, Spain, England, Rwanda, Madagascar, Tunisia, and Uzbekistan. He now lives in Brooklyn.