Your face relentlessly
blooms from cans of spray paint.
It chisels into layers of skin under
a tattoo’s needle. There are painters
who know the brush stroke of your stoicism
like muscle memory. Somewhere
in Cuba, they have your severed hands.
I wonder who cares for them, if a man
somewhere visits them, a secret
pilgrimage, if he falls to his knees
and asks for your blessing. Somehow,
ideas survive beyond the wars they lost,
even the worst of ideas attack
like a virus, and the best ideas
knock the wind out of us and demand
we pray amidst our ruins. You come to me
in my dreams sometimes, handing
me a cigar and battle fatigues
and I ask you which will kill me first:
my vices or my love for this world.
You answer, Every love is a vice,
and your hands vanish as your wrists
turn into a fistless stigmata. Mythologies
have always had the power to jolt up a spine
and split a body in half, the way theories
flash in a head like trapped fireflies
that can only glimmer in darkness
but can’t light a single room.
Che, I live in an empire
that will never repent.
I worship fire
as if only ash can purify.
Your face hangs over me, death mask
turned to emblem, doomed
prophecy of the idealist, disembodied
insignia of our paralyzed mutiny.
Anne Champion is the author of The Good Girl is Always a Ghost (Black Lawrence Press, 2018), Reluctant Mistress (Gold Wake Press, 2013), and The Dark Length Home (Noctuary Press, 2017). Her poems have appeared in Verse Daily, Prairie Schooner, Salamander, Crab Orchard Review, Epiphany Magazine, The Pinch, The Greensboro Review, New South, and elsewhere. She was an 2009 Academy of American Poet’s Prize recipient, a Barbara Deming Memorial grant recipient, a 2015 Best of the Net winner, and a Pushcart Prize nominee. She holds degrees in Behavioral Psychology and Creative Writing from Western Michigan University and an MFA in Poetry from Emerson College. She currently teaches writing and literature at Wheelock College in Boston, MA.