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Carlo Matos

Among the Rigors (V.)

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If he senses I’m about to wilt, he might press the action.
He may even make me pay for it:
a moment ready-made and bound by obscurities—
sex as a series of equivalencies not specialties,
not just the simple execution of a clever conceit
but a threat at every turn         a bursting from the inside out             a method
for assigning words alternate meanings [for one night, at least].
And then the playing out of a game of cat and mouth,
where he somehow manages to fool around with himself and his febrile alter-ego.
He might even use the phrase “cultural signifiers”
in order to test if he’s in charge or I am:
the rib of bones                         the blood                     the bend in the lower back
the tendency to give the game away.
We are lured by the lack of detail in that annoying way of seduction, darling,
our access only through the fascinating and grimly decorated bedroom:
a tomb of gargoyles and gewgaws and grotesques from a previous marriage to a woman.
The effect is not immutable             not inanimate             never quite adds up to excitement.
Well, let me take that back, it never quite adds up to excitement for him—
the brown-eyed man in the autumn of my rooms.
Trauma has made me afraid of how the reliable works us over—
how it denies and ignores how easily one can become rapt.

Among the Rigors (VI.)

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His need is gentle,
as is the necessity to explore the particular expansions and contractions of character,
the full vigor                 and mischief                 and perils
of a person with bifurcated desires in a pair of old boxer shorts.
He is gentle but carries a quick left and a heavy right;
however, the more he abstracts,
the more he is reduced to a page of lower-case letters:
each character a moment without development         each a particular instantiation
each a coordinate [but only one].
When attempting to complete a rational thought during a physical challenge,
there is an urge to give way to incomplete syntactical structures,
like unfinished comparatives,
like Benchley’s stylish joke about being between the age of 14.
What is crafted specifically to short circuit can impoverish or fill to the brim.
A heretic, for example, loses his head
no less dramatically on the verge of simplicity as of complexity.
Consider the extent to which interrogating confusion
constitutes a dead end or, on the contrary, is a contest
to control the shape of terror and fear,
like how we survive and appear unscathed.
We substantiate the eyewitness accounts
even in the dark of my bed                   in the object position of the beloved
in the containment of male bodies so alien
though I have lived in one my entire life.
Are his hands those of a hunter or a lumberjack partially domesticated, partially defeated?
Do they carry with them connotations of experience
and the will to be torn asunder by a fist earned without anger?
My default reaction is also to go out swinging,
so tuck your chin when carrying me or we’re both lost.

Among the Rigors (VII.)

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My ledger includes more girls than boys [or rather one woman 20 years tall]
but when it comes to cleaving, I just can’t seem to tell the difference.
Unsure of which star to follow, I end up far from land
worrying the hard work associated with sacrifice:
where it breaks                           how it must be contained                   when it works
what holds us hostage,               who is guilt [and who, blame].
It leaves us wondering why her father targeted her for lack of industry

or his, for lack of anger         or mine, for not being his lost nor his found.
She is rugged and champions those who take blows from all sides.
He’s a self-defined do-gooder, always coming up against the limits of his own vanity.
As for me, I am quite difficult to pin down, except while wrestling.
We meet without coming into conflict,
focusing not on what is gained and what is gone
but on how it takes three to tangle,
pretending to be unable to tell where one ends and the others begin.
At its most basic level, it’s like the easy balm of a Phil Collins song,
or a blow job,
or a blowjob to a Phil Collins song.
And not all of the episodes are expressly tragic.
It’s not all mucking about and rolling your eyes
at the intractable and insatiable obsession with your exes.
The hardest part is the failure of the appeal to shared experience—
the inability to move beyond the obvious.
On the one hand, there’s the sheer reasonableness of the question
about who remembers the other less               or who remembers more strangely
or, maybe, who renders wonderful the most complex?
On the other hand, the answer is the very least part of damage.
To say so might be disingenuous,
or maybe it’s the truest thing that can be said.

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