Varnish

Frayed epaulets tarnished to a matte patina.
Whiskers grayed by hard nights and whisky.
Firewalker mum, blisters and sisters.
Bronze light of September. It has always been
deathly. When the glistening swords appear
after honing all year.

A serpent held at bay in the fist
will live to strike first another day.
Light under the firebush burns.

Seal it under plastics or polyurethane,
the petri dish, the psaltry, the fount,
archaic machines, tortured logics

Legacies of midnight, gasps of vision
glass in the eyeball, having glimpsed
what should not have been seen.

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