the destroyer > text > Amanda Silbernagel



I want to be in love and of it, to live
in a postwar, radioactive city
or on a ship at the bottom of the ocean
because I’m just that invincible, my force field’s just that bomb.
I want to know God, to approach him
with no puns intended, with a gun to my head,
to be beside myself, outside myself,
to crave the unspeakable––I want my voice to
explode in my dream without waking me and when
the alarm clock goes off on the horizon
I want my body to stay prostrate as my fake one
runs through strange streets soaked with blood and maybe gasoline,
and Flame, I want that rush to the head
of butterflies foretelling our impending destruction
and subsequent mass production of hate mail
and frantic prayers for halos––I want to be in danger of believing
everything they tell me, of taking the prophet on the subway
for a terrorist, religion for protection, quantum entanglement for proof
it’s not just me and my decisions. I want to believe
every word of it––and laugh. I want my life back.


I’ve been shut up
for millennia in this ward
with a terrible question
on my tongue, I’ve been
reticent stricken and bound
by insomnia because
dream-language smacks
of drunk slurs and I’ve
had my fill of those. Believe me
when I say that heaven is this
world, and this world is
a theater where paupers go
to don themselves splendid
and render hope possible,
because we’re all just
deus ex machinas taking turns
with the suspension cables.
Believe me when I say that
I know that beauty is in
the noose through which
the gaze shoots its arrow
accidentally hitting a sparrow
flying crooked against the wind
a split second before
your foot slips. But it’s more
than that, and less: it’s the dark
figure penduluming under
the meteor shower / between
two Judas trees. See, I’m attempting
to explain how I know that feeling
is the kick-away foundation
of belief, but on good days
belief is a paper boat that sets sail
in a gentle stream, in hopes
of disintegrating before it
reaches the waterfall.
All I’m asking is why this is
a bad thing. Why when dandelions
disseminate a wish that took all
of ten seconds to formulate
I’m filled with a dread
that could move mountains,
the very mountains
through which my brothers
and sisters are tunneling
their way toward the light.
Why nothing, absolutely nothing
is so complicated as that silence
that bewitches the mind
just prior to creation, or so simple
as the one that follows
the end of the world. Because god knows
we’re addicted to these intervals,
and for this, like god, we’ll be judged.
But like god the author
is not sorry and offers
no explanation as to why
my poems give rise to more
eyebrows than jihads,
and dares whomsoever
has never sat down to write
a letter to the universe
and couldn’t find the words,
who’s never strapped a bomb
to their person just to feel it
detonate, and spent the rest
of their life at the river’s edge
alone, contemplating
not death, but the conditions
of resurrection––
to cast the first stone.

[author's website]