I the blood-dry lie awake

Haunted by a turn of phrase.

An empty page in lumen veins paints royal I,

Subject and source, mortal, ornamental I––

Proper, polite, ossified I––

(Or is this me upon the page?) Inquiring I

Find myself between the lines,

A pair of eyes between the lines,

A pen of blood writing Chapter One.

I am Orpheus! I, amorphous.

Before me are pages of my best kept designs,

Manuscripts of cartilage and carved phosphorous––

I’ve sold myself to the muses nine

Who spill my blood in summertime.

But how could I resign?

I the shaper sharpen sticks to spill myself in the abyss

For sonnets, love songs, novels, hymns,

And here the audience implores.

But all this of I and nothing of me,

Empty, unmarked me,

Eurydice can’t sing for me.

(I turn behind––a mannequin lies––

Above it hang gauzy, sanguine skies.

A crowd has gathered to compliment the talents of a man well-spent,

And there the supplicant skeleton lies.)

I, the spirit; me, the masquerade––

My skull is measured by Piaget.

And when the valkyries come for me,

Tested on the fields of prosody,

I can only point to a life defined

By metonym, metaphor,

Diagnostics scribed in Chapter Four.

Burning the Midlife Oil

Landon Wittmer is an emerging writer from Grand Rapids, Michigan, whose work explores the unspoken tensions of interpersonal encounters and the nature of community. His poetry parses the permeable membrane between verse and prose to find similar borders between individuals in conversation.