Cathexis Northwest Press

© 2018 

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Ignis Sacer
00:00 / 01:48

Come, cherubim,
to the proclamation
               of the angels,
               written in signal & current
where once we called Arcadia

The many-faced god is gibbering
a thousand acrimonious truths,
conjuring heat, carving into soil,
and from among us, the penitent seeds,
chooses from the ripeness of our sorrow
whose bones shall serve as a birthing jar,
who shall grow bloated with code
and pollinate

               some in public, in politics,
               in parking lots and malls,
               in the places we haunt
               despite their dying functions.
               Cogito ergo ergot sum.

Cherub, chart the rising signs
within you, the rituals of marrow and star.
Know thy place in the journey and forget it,
for the journey is a river-wheel beside a grain mill
in a town long abandoned to drought. 

               Your birth was in a pit.
               The many-faced god says
               “Elect, erect, select,” and you obey,
               for a school of fish follows currents
               they create but never break,
               for the poison is the sugar on your tongue,
               the rose in spring, the bloom, the burst,
               the wither and decay.

Dance upon the neural network,
swing about the barley. 

The blistered skin
that sheathes you will soon split,
and what remains will ascend
               like dandelion spores
               into the eastern wind.

John Chrostek is a poet, playwright and author from Pennsylvania currently living in Portland, Oregon. He studied writing at the Savannah College of Art and Design. He currently lives in a small apartment with his partner Amanda, a writer, archivist, and zinester, and their two animals. His work has appeared in several places.

"Ignis Sacer is an exploration into the condition of masculinity in an age of ‘American carnage’. At the time of writing, I'd been fixated on fungi’s relation to forest growth and organic life in general, and how the spores of social currents can swell within us, rewire us to the root and stem and burst. As we as a living people struggle with our place and purpose in the cosmos, defiant or desperate to mend our relationship with the order of organic life on this planet and with each other as human beings, our self-conceptions lie bare, eroded by the toxins in our cultural environments and legacies. The poem externalizes this fear of behavioral contagions and violence in the form of a prayer, ending on a note of muted hope: That we might recognize the viral growths within us, and in doing so, be opened and remade."