“Final Poem for the Moon”

A Poem by Phillip B. Williams

September 8, 2021  By Phillip B. Williams

My first lover, my clavicle’s chiseler
sculpting me into blue lamentation

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and crucible for your lunacy,
summon me to scuttle forward—

cancer moon, cancer rising—and fill
myself on your dust-flashed milk,

your gray honey black-green grasses
use to sharpen their nightblades. My paramour

who gowns me in a yawning glint, Helios’s
canvas by which you find your aspects,

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find your shape misshapen in seven-eighths,
your eighth self finally filled with ochre blood

or the ruddy salutations of familiar fever.
You pass your sickness to me like fervor,

my heart a moon learning all its phases
at once. My idiolect and diaphragm,

deliberate disc slipped from Thoth’s spine,
Elysium I pitch my body beneath, white morning

glories opening from my sweat-flushed back.
I feel my veins harp-pluck toward you. I rise

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like any body of water compelled into risk,
pulled up the god-ladder of your gibbous.

You perfect your appetite in my blood,
hematite of harvest, scolecite that pulls

my bloodwaves to zenith in your skull
of good omen, your lambent weight

witness to worship and worry. I, a sun-celibate
celebrant ensconced in pearl. My mood unravels

in your fingerless hand. I dance lute-backed
in the armory of your niveous eye. Your snake-fang

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posture I hang from my ear, your crescent
weaning me off your nectar. I will grieve

your circumference, your diameter, your secant
and chord as you renew yourself with erasure:

Moon as a mouth no more.
Moon as a wound no more.
Moon wound round my fists
no more. Moon in the grips
of hunger, moon chip-toothed,
goat-eye round in shock no more.
Moon no beast aspires to kiss.
Moon the color of my coming
no more. Misery moon. Moon
dipped in a wail. Moonsick
no more. Moonward, dust floats
but lingers no more. Moon-heavy
chimney, no more. Moon-washed
tongue washing me, no more. Full
moon night’s chandelier no more.
How high the no-more moon?
The cow jumps over the nevermoon.
Moon River no more. Wider than a mile,
my arms take the shape of you no more.
Do not watch me while I look for you,
in the galaxy that breathes your many names:
Tsukuyomi, Coyolxauhqui, Change, Khonsu.
I am malaised by moonglut, moonstruck,
lunatic eclipsed by my lips’ supplicant O!



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From Mutiny by Phillip B. Williams. Used with the permission of Penguin Books.

Phillip B. Williams
Phillip B. Williams
Phillip B. Williams is from Chicago, IL, and is the author of the book Thief in the Interior (Alice James, 2016). A recipient of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, Lambda Literary Award, and Whiting Award, he has also received fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University and the National Endowment for the Arts. He currently teaches at Bennington College and the Randolph College low-residency MFA.

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