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Conor Mc Donnell

"Qui vincit? (medicamina)"

This house could hold more empty seats but the people 
who would sit in them were put away long ago.

There is no work here bring out your dead no bodies left 
to pass the piss-test, close the factory down. 

Everything is not what you read, old colic torques to form 
new cancer a different diagnosis to ponder,

collections of atypical things eventually typify something
— backpain, beatings, boredom, parties —

get help any time you want to welcome old pain back. 
Fill the gap-year wound with tiny holes 

you poke in everything else, no chemical solution to your God-
sized problem (even if I say it with a little ‘g’).

You’re young you’re cute you got your own teeth the tank ain’t 
close to half-empty yet, plenty left to hock 

from home before you hit the riverbank set up camp & bed down 
in the shade of men with beards that crawl 

and eyes that never move. He’ll take you in and keep you dry 
spitshine your new cancer, help you slip 

the lure of fools that every moment is momentous. Leave a few months
sidle by, shine illusion warm so you can cake inside the 

lullaby of your greatest highs. Want no more than the one thing he gives 
for the one thing you have to give to him, warmth 

a mouth your grip on the rung cos you gotta have faith to begin with 
if you wanna question God. Blindfold yourself 

get a mystery tattoo let new love put its mark on you, look down,

grass pools red beneath blotting missteps and rotten deeds,
smoothing urgent rush to breathe. Brace 

each time you breach a surface, snap back to a memory of not waking 
up to or from an O.D., half-lips mumbling dusky 

‘I took nuthins’. Remember, you were not plucked from fading orbits, 
you have the constitution and perseverance

of a rash. You are the flightless moth that eats shed skin, and the shedder 
too, you are unstoppable impenetrable, kevlar 

to dull bullets yet prickable like a day-old balloon. What do you say 
when you travel so far that no one you know 

can hear you? Do you mourn the national breakdown? Rage at federal 
fugue? Tip this chemic coercion to a magical 

metastasis? You are no longer soft spoken now you are roughly spat
panhandled from cavitations and rooted to riverbanks

a ghoul that staggers through gaps in family photographs never having 
taken that first step back. You ask too much of water

we can only get so clean, no nudge or gentle cheat will reverse our cycle now.
We leer into morning exhausted from vigilance to a script

we have long absorbed as canon so know you are no more than meat, tilt 
your nose to witness starlings clot like clefs and peck at

the threads of your disastrous decisions. Blink away respite like moons repel 
satellites, crack the back-ups fitted to flood you 

with empty memory that weighs you down to drown on dry land in fluid 
expressed from deep within your own chest. I’ll be 

your gravity your creeping beauty the vine that hugs and dresses you best. 
I’ll be the first thing people see — a recognition — 

blinked away to tears. Let them go blind, where mind goes man will follow 
and no man owns the sky so look up not down 

where you prick and bleed . . . sleep and let your cancers breathe


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