Stay, Illusion! | Liam Max Kelley

Image: Thought Catalog

Stay, Illusion!

Some purple pile of angels,
stone, by base of worn stairs, watch
eagles adorned with your teacups,

and Shakespeare is mistaken
for Jesus going sideways down
the metro escalator.

I’m warmer for your shaking.
My pills hurt swallowing

—the king assumes his photographer
wields rifles and vermin
instead of
red spinning tops—horses too tall
for stars to hold
any meaning beyond
lost beanies and orange wine.

(Somewhere it’s Thanksgiving, so I’ve left

Maybe an old woman veins out
licorice toffee
to each of her teeth chatting
on the morning train
fortressward, coastalward…
she smiles,
offering to bag me,
and I take the first my fingers find.

Another lady, bald,
offers me four licorice cough drops.
Though one falls from my hand.

Mouth beating black three
—I cross over
the ocean seat. My scarf doubling
a pillow
for wrist splints—the fog
spreading out over the window,
old blood on a warm bandage.

I take back-to-back photos of you
scalpelled behind yesterday’s closed eyes.

Hamlet’s cream puff pulls espresso
with broken glass pain and
our future light, the
question burning—

my napkins parade away towards
a mooring…

You stable that Christmas
rat in your arms—

for one you stand sleeping,
steps broken,
the other your stare
bungees under shadow
of labyrinthine brows,

buried deep
in the casemates
by Holger Danske, the bats, God,
and that penis
gunned down in stone.

You took a bite of my cheese
sandwich at the station—right before
I tossed the timeline ruler.
For a moment I could’ve swore
I’d taken you for a swan
or beached Ophelia,
but I recalled then
this country’s hole is a castle—
words, cannons
—please remember we are in a church.

I vain thanks for a moment

to remind myself
of where the metal ball should be—
then board a top car backwards,
returning home to you…

Liam Max Kelley is a Chilean-American playwright, poet, and teacher. He is a board member and open mic host at Stain’d Arts, an arts non-profit based in Denver, Colorado, and the co-founder of RuddyDuck Theatre Company, a local absurdist theatre group. He writes poetry to avoid making an argument, to highlight life’s horrid ambiguities, and to turn the heads of those he holds dear.