the lament of the man who burned alive

I cannot say that I am sane, though they will say I flamed in/sanity.

To plan and pick a day to die, no guarantee of death.

To find a wide expanse of green, soak your clothes in gasoline.

To write a manifesto or no? A match or lighter?

Walk along wide avenues, shuffle, look down, sigh;

think of sorrow, treason, lies.

The newest bruised recruit, blue and silver, the senseless shame of another man shot.

Skin flayed by a pale hand, the interlocked signs of hate on holy walls.

The spasmed seizures, overdose, relapse.

Water rent by poison creeps up peeling paint—I am no saint.

Dare not venerate my name.

I burn because to live is not sweet pain, but bitter.

Every place of cool repose has been uprooted, no one knows

when the magnolia may bloom again, the child see their mother, arms intertwined.

I have never drunk from any glass but rancid wine.

Walk the line, throat parched and heavy-handed.

The restless heat of dust plumes and the sign that shuns.

Persecute the righteous, the small, the weak, the numb.

Somehow I start a fire, I do not recall; walk, then run, then collapse,

against a low white wall.

One man is a flame unto himself.

The dull half-awake between life and death, the deep regret,

the darker knowledge still that soft flesh will not relent.

Plumes of unstable smoke drift overhead, the nightmares bearing down.

Echoes of old stories, martyrs, god—the flames, shell-shocked, are all.

Hear the coiled snap of demands, harsh billows, steam,

the smell of soiled sheets—I cannot stop them now, and they cannot stop me.

All is too rancid melting ash to know if I am fire or smoke.

Perhaps no/body will be left to say I lived. Delusions and despair.

The spring in Arabia was sparked by such a man as I.

He was a seller of fruit, though I know not what I am.

But still, build upon my ashes, let me be the cornerstone.

I was never sacred save in my loss, my load.

I had no faith till now.

Acquiesce is a word I do not pretend to know.

© 2019 Anna-Christina Betekhtin, All Rights Reserved.

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