Living Will

in the voice of B. D. M.
before his death from heroin at the age of twenty

Let them sting, whichever
words alight—let
them bite.
Let their needles inoculate
against further venom: go ahead,
tell me what I know
I need to hear, even
if it means piercing my ears
or plugging my tongue with shrapnel.
Spell it out: I’m a slow learner,
I don’t know my place.

Let the ink burrow in beneath the scabs,
let each scar tell its own story—
I can fortify myself.
Let my flesh be a record of my passage.
Why save it for a marble comforter
& the rain’s devouring?
I can mortify myself.
Why restrict prognostication
to the crossroads of the palm?
I make myself a mojo of my self,
all funhouse mirrors.

May their power be mine:
spider web. Coiled serpent.
Grinning skull. Let them rise
from the graves pried open
by your clinical words, &
let them tell the world
its fortune: sweet
ferment of carrion flies,
spirochetes seething in the farthest
tributaries of the heart.


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